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WFH (Working From Home) Hollywood Edition: How Covid-19 Has Affected the Film Industry

WFH (Working From Home) Hollywood Edition: How Covid-19 Has Affected the Film Industry

Image: A cameraman wears a mask during filming. Photo: Aliaksei –

Tom Cruise keeping safe on the set for Mission Impossible VII.
Image: Riccardo Antimiani/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Throughout 2020, we’ve seen drastic changes to many industries, from fashion to film. While some roles have become undoable – the complete shutdown of theatre springs to mind – others have been able to adapt to a remote setup, causing jobs and processes to be completely re-imagined.

In the film industry, there have been some successes and some huge losses. As the pandemic has kept many confined to their homes, online streaming rocketed throughout 2020. In the first three months alone, Netflix gained almost sixteen million new subscribers, and according to a study from Conviva, as an audience, we collectively streamed more than ever before last year.

The demand for new films and TV shows is clearly there, but how has COVID-19 affected the film industry? Are filmmakers, actors, animators and costume designers able to keep up with this ever-increasing demand?

For Jurassic World: Dominion and Mission Impossible VII, release dates have both been pushed back… a whole year in the case of the former!


Animating from home

Although big blockbuster films had to halt production for much of 2020, there were still many roles within the film industry that have been able to make the shift to remote working. Animation is one of these areas. DreamWorks’ TV show runner Jack Thomas said: “That’s the thing about animation: You can do a lot of it remotely.”

As animation is one of the only sectors that hasn’t been forced to shut down during the pandemic, the future of film and TV is set to be more animated than ever. As casting director for Disney, Jen Rudin explains: “It’s truly the one thing we can all do while we’re at home.”

Final touches

Similar to jobs in animation, roles that revolve around putting together the final touches for films and TV shows have remained possible during the pandemic. We may not be able to start brand-new projects which would need a lot of people to be present on set, but adding the final touches to films that were planned for release last year or in 2021 remained possible throughout the duration of 2020. On the other side of things, companies were also able to work on pre-shoot work, including prep for special effects for upcoming blockbusters.

The recently completed final chapter in the Jurassic World trilogy, Dominion, required the cast and crew at Pinewood film studios to take a total of no less than 40k Coronavirus tests. The film reunites the original Jurassic Park trio, Sam Neil, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum as well as the trilogy’s newest stars, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Tom Cruise also wrapped filming for the latest episode in his action-packed series Mission Impossible VII before the New Year. Before completion (filming was of course temporarily halted in 2020 before recommencing in September) the entire cast and crew was required to wear face coverings. Cruise even had a major rant at various crew members who decided to break the rules towards the end yelling: “If I see you doing it again, you’re f***ing gone!”

Costume designer woes

Although some areas of the film industry have been able to work remotely and continue to meet high streaming demands, others have found the pandemic impossible to work through. The fashion and costume side to film and TV production suffered during 2020, with many A-list costume designers finding themselves completely out of work for months on end.

Again, film-prep is the only area in which designers are still able to be involved. However, with the ever-growing uncertainty about exactly when regular and safe filming can continue permanently, many freelance designers are left in limbo between projects. Ruth E. Carter, who is set to design the costumes for Black Panther 2, told us: “All of us, as freelancers, know that there’s going to be a period of time where we’re not working. That just comes with the territory. And those of us who have just finished [projects] have the luxury of having built-up savings. But for those who are just starting out, this is a difficult time.”

The future of red-carpet fashion

As red-carpet events largely migrated to the Zoom screen in 2020, red-carpet fashion is another area of the film and TV industry that has taken a big hit. For many A-list actors, red-carpet fashion and its ability to influence trends is almost as major a part of the job as starring in films and TV shows. In addition, the lack of red-carpet events has had a big impact on fashion designers, leaving them with little opportunity to reveal their new outfits to the world.

However, like with other areas of the entertainment industry, creative and remote opportunities are still available. Stylists and designers alike have adapted swiftly to online roles, with outfits being fitted over Zoom and stylist consultations going digital. The stylist to Shakira and Sofia Carson, Nicolas Bru, said: “Everything came to a halt suddenly, and my work went from in-person fittings and events to virtual ones. This is new territory for all of us, so we’re all having to adapt, which gives us this sense of unity, knowing that we are all in this together and trying to find the appropriate way to move forward.”

Much is the case with other industries – the world of movies and entertainment has been forced to adapt and evolve throughout the turbulent course of 2020. However, the creative strategies that many have been able to put in place give us hope for the future of film and TV in a post-pandemic world.