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Film industry returns to New Orleans after months-long pause on production

1 year 4 days 10 hours ago Wednesday, July 29 2020 Jul 29, 2020 July 29, 2020 9:27 PM July 29, 2020 in News
Source: WWL-TV

NEW ORLEANS- The City of New Orleans is welcoming film production crews for the first time since March after being forced to shut down due to the spread of COVID-19.

The beginning of 2020 was a success for filming in New Orleans, but at least 10 productions were forced to put progress on pause.

The first season of the Bryan Cranston show, "Your Honor," and the fifth season of the television series "Queen Sugar," produced by the Oprah Winfrey Network, are just a couple of New Orleans productions affected by the pandemic.

2019 was the biggest year yet for filming in New Orleans. WWL-TV reports that according to Film New Orleans Director Caroll Morton, productions spent a total of $782 million.

Though these major projects will resume in the coming weeks, sets will look a bit different than before.

Jason Waggenspack, CEO of The Ranch Studios told WWL there is new signage on set, mask and social distancing guidelines, and hand sanitizing stations where there is a common cross point.

“We are asking ourselves, how is it that we can be safe and we make production happen as quickly as possible but also as safe as possible,” Waggenspack told WWL. “I am sure there is going to be a major expense that’s going to go with it. There is going to be a lot of coordinating challenges but at the end of the day the show must go on and we are really going to get this figured out and I think production is going to come back full steam.”

Guidelines from the industry are not lenient. Morton says serious testing is in store. For some productions, staff could be tested 3-5 times per week.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell recently announced new restrictions for the city, including gatherings limited to 50 people max. Some productions are having to rewrite scripts to adhere to those rules.

Those involved in these major productions are hopeful the film industry will return and for some, their livelihoods depend on it.

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