Should Movie and TV Production Be Considered “Essential” Work?

Is the business of making movies essential?

Just came across this article quoted and linked below about the outrage some California business owners are facing over having to shut down due to government orders while movie and TV production has been deemed essential since almost the beginning of the pandemic.

…ever since April, film and TV production has been considered “essential” work in California. According to a 23-page Newsom-approved document that lays out the state’s critical infrastructure, essential workers include those “supporting the entertainment industries,” as long as they follow public health protocols. And though some studio bystanders had been concerned that the industry might be removed from the exempt list with latest December orders, they were pleased to find that wasn’t the case. Says one top state official, “It bodes well for the industry that it made it through this round.”

Hollywood Insiders Defend “Essential” Worker Status Amid Growing Criticism | Hollywood Reporter

This is a vexing question to answer: what should and should not be considered essential work? If you have to put food on your table, your job — whatever it is — seems pretty darned essential. I feel for those work in any job and are shut down and can’t work.

The flipside of that is most people would logically conclude that entertainment is not an essential work. If your favorite TV show can’t film the next season during the pandemic, it’s not going to be the end of life as we know it.

Obviously, health care is essential. Both of us are in/around the retail sector and people need to eat, so would say what we’re doing is fairly essential. My wife’s job more than mine, admittedly, but we’ve both been blessed to be able to continue working the whole time.

I didn’t receive an annual performance increase to my salary, nor did many salaried workers at my company. Was glad that the hourly employees all received theirs and was fine that it went this way. Again, I was just happy to be working this whole time. A lot of people haven’t been able to say that and I feel for them.

So, treading very carefully here in determining what is and isn’t essential. Would all just seem a bit hypocritical to personally declare it all non-essential, but do agree that it seems the entertainment business is very non-essential compared to restaurants. If you close a restaurant for half the year, they probably won’t survive. That’s exactly what’s happening. Same with many other businesses, and yet them being open is very essential.

10 thoughts on “Should Movie and TV Production Be Considered “Essential” Work?

  1. There was a story about an LA Restaurant where the owner spent considerable money creating an outdoor eating area with good spacing so she could still serve customers, and she was told she couldn’t use it in this latest round of shut-downs. Yet, 15 feet away from her patio, a movie that’s being filmed locally has their catering set up where people working on the movie can sit and eat.

    No, I don’t think the entertainment industry is “essential” especially when there are so many other people suffering through this. If you’re going to let them operate, you should let others as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I beg to differ. While I feel for the restaurant owners, there is a difference between them and that catering for the movie-set. All the persons involved in the film production are tested. It is OK and advisable to eat all in the same spot. You can’t say the same thing about the customers of a restaurant. No, the movie business should go on as long as they are complying with safety protocols and part of the money they pay as taxes should go to the restaurant owners and their employees to help them survive although they are closed. The same with theater companies. And movie production IS essential work. If we are to stay home, we need proper entertainment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They can test people like they do at casinos which are still open. Those are on tribal grounds, so following state mandates is dubious there as well. Not sure what it is like in your area (are casinos open?) here they are which has made me wonder how there can be these discrepancies in following the rules.

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      2. Oh, they will always be higher interests at play, I give you that. For instance, here in Romania, they’ve closed open-space markets, but indoor supermarkets are still open. I couldn’t help but wonder which of our politicians has shares in one or more supermarkets. But I guess that the casino provides the COVID tests. Something that the restaurant owners can’t afford, I imagine. It’s sad, and I feel for all of the people who lost their jobs because of the pandemic. However, if taxes paid by the movie industry can be redirected to help those in the restaurant business (for instance, they are not the only ones who suffer) I can’t see why you’d advocate for closing the movie industry just because restaurants are closed. Patti above feels so strong about this issue. But Patti, in the movie industry there are not only highly paid movie stars who can afford not to work for a whole year. People behind the camera need to survive as well. Why would you want for them to suffer if the movie industry found a way to test them and provide a safe environment for them to work? That being said, they are not infallible. We read every day articles about a movie production shut down because someone tested positive. Let’s not forget that those in the movie industry are humans themselves and they make mistakes they shouldn’t make. So the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I do feel for the film crews. Also think movie stars could do more for those greater in need than crying in the media about the “death of the arts.” It just comes out hollow and misguided for the rest of the world. The crew that works on movies, the large portion of them are not millionaires, so you make a fair point, Jo.

        This is a complicated issue and the truth, as you put it, is somewhere in the middle. I slide back and forth on the issue because it’s just not a black and white issue.

        The movies themselves, though, are not essential as hospitals or grocery stores or emergency services. I think as a general statement that holds true. It doesn’t mean that the crews of movies aren’t just as deserving to work and put food on tables,

        Liked by 1 person

      4. And I beg to differ. There’s almost a century’s worth of movies out there to watch, plus television and stage productions that have been filmed.

        As for the safety, if it were only that easy there would be a handle on this already. Masks are not 100%, many people who have COVID and can spread it are asymptomatic, especially children, and people have to have contact with purveyors for food supply along with other trips to stores where it can be picked up. There’s no guarantees. I feel much more for the restaurant owners who are trying to survive and don’t know if they will be able to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table than the entertainment industry that could shutter itself for the next year and we likely wouldn’t even notice.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. While it is providing jobs.. I hover around it being ‘essential’ – sure it’s saving our sanity some – but as pointed out about the restaurant owner just isn’t fair. I am a die hard liberal, have major pre-existing conditions and I really think it was just a pisser to have these restaurants do so much and make it safe for so many and give employment – only to be shut down again. Honestly, I went to a Costco right before it was going back into effect and I wouldn’t even go in because it was such a clusterf**k but yet a small shop with safety protocols in open view has to close? NO NO NO.. the amount of cases traced back to outside dining was so low and the massive outbreak we are having is due to the fact people just couldn’t follow the most basic of guidelines during Thanksgiving so all these people have to suffer because of the selfishness of some. And it will happen again during Xmas.. so shut down TRAVELING not these businesses that we need so much. I do understand shutdowns..I do..but it’s been handled so badly in the US with all the loonies – we will never get out of this because of this. And it makes me sad.

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