COVID-19: Nuggets from Netflix’s Ted Sarandos on Filming and Safety Protocols

By Pickle  May 6, 2020
Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix

Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer of Netflix has shared best practices of how the streaming giant is adapting and learning to filming in some parts of the world in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. While many countries have shut down film shoots, film productions have reopened in South Korea, Japan and Iceland and Netflix plan to continue to shoot in Sweden (later this month) and Norway in July.

“Netflix shows and films are made around the globe, we’re starting to learn how to get production going again despite the crisis. Filming typically takes place in intimate, high-touch environments, with scores of artists and craftspeople working closely together on tight deadlines,” Ted Sarandos wrote in the Opinion page published in the Los Angeles Times on May 5 (Tuesday). “While we will need to change this process — in some cases dramatically — to ensure the safety of cast and crew during this pandemic, the closed nature of sets also offers some advantages. Not least that they provide a relatively controlled environment, where we can track who comes and goes.”

The Netflix content chief has made it clear that situations and environments vary from country to country and city to city. ” (We) need to work with local health authorities to adopt safeguards that take into account the situation on the ground. There is no one size fits all,” he wrote.

Following are some of the examples cited by Ted Sarandos.

South Korea: Currently filming “Move to Heaven” and romantic series “Love Alarm”. Testing in South Korea only for people with symptoms. Temparature tested regularly for cast and crew.

Iceland: COVID-19 tests are widely available in Iceland. Currently Netflix is filming “Katla,” a science-fiction series. Crews have voluntariyly tested. Crews report to production after testing negative. Netflix has prescribed strict safely protocols.

Sweden: Test is scarce in Sweden. Netflix will resume production of its comedy series “Love and Anarchy”. Crew and production executives will self-quarantine for 14 days before shooting and throughout the shooting schedule.

Netflix Best Practices on the Sets

  • Maintain social distancing among crew and production members
  • Availablity of hand sanitizers
  • Boxed meals instead of buffets
  • Make up artists use disposable applicators
  • People on the set wash hands every two hours
  • Props cleaned and wardrobes stream cleaned every day

Ted Sarandos has maintained that some Netflix shows will need to rewrite scripts or look to add visual effects to what previously would have been shot live.

“The business of bringing stories to life onscreen is built on partnership and trust. We will only make progress if everyone who returns to
the set, whether they are in front of or behind the camera, feels safe doing so. Without this basic trust, the creative process breaks down,” says Ted Sarandos.

He ends his op-ed piece on a postive note: “The adage is as old as our business, but it has never been more true: The show must — and
will — go on”.

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