How Covid-19 has affected the movie industry


Hayley Davis, a former student of Roswell High School, now works behind the scenes at movie and tv productions and gives her insight on the impact of Covid on media productions. Photo Credit: Hayley Davis

Grace Swift

Movies are a massive contributor in today’s economy. Global box office revenues totalled $42 billion last year – an all-time high – contributing almost one-third of the estimated $136 billion in the value of worldwide movie production and distribution and Hollywood supports more than 2 million jobs and 400,000 American businesses.  This was all affected by the hit of Covid- 19. Covid-19 halted all movie and tv productions, as well as closing movie theaters.  

The effects of the pandemic is causing movie companies to become more cautious about what they are producing and how much money they are putting into movies.   The World Economic Forum reports, “ This has knock-on effects for production. COVID-19 has made movie financing more risky, due to increased health security and insurance costs. “  The pandemic has had an effect not just on the production of the movie but also what type of movies are being written and filmed.  The creativity in the movie industry is starting to decline and writers are more likely to write a movie based off a comic or story that already exists rather than creating their own story and movie plot.


The graph shows the decline in original screenplay and increase in movies based on already developed stories such as comics. Photo credits: Quartz Atlas


While the movie was already being affected by streaming services and customers being able to stream new movies and tv shows in the comfort of their own homes causing many people to stop going to physical movie theaters and choosing to stay home on their couches.  The World Economic Forum states, “ Even before the pandemic, streaming video on-demand (SVOD) was having a huge impact on the industry.”

As time passes and people try to get back to their normal lives or as normal as they can be, the movie industry is trying to get to normal as well. Production of movie and tv shows have picked up and movie theaters are starting to open up as well. 

Hayley Davis, a former student at Roswell High school, who now works behind the scenes at movie production, was asked a couple questions about how covid-19 has affected production on set.


 How do you think Corona has affected the movie and television industry as a whole?


Hayley: It has changed everything for us! From hiring, to catering, there is no department on set that has not had to change in significant ways to accommodate our new reality. Over the summer our respective unions and guilds in our industry worked hard on trying to create a standard for operating under Corona that has created a new set culture of health and safety being paramount. As we go on, these are more or less living documents that we update as we learn what works and what does not. 


What changes have you seen on set to help stop the spread of Corona?


Hayley: For one all productions have a new department on the call sheet everyday, Health and Safety. They’re in charge of our testing schedules, setting up PPE tables (hand sanitizers, N95 masks, face shields etc.) throughout the set, and ensuring crew members are social distancing. We have to be very mindful of who we’re around and how long as contact tracing is our best bet for keeping our crew safe.


What has been the biggest issue for filming because of Corona?


Hayley: Proximity. On a film set, we usually were all standing quite close. Camera, sound, our ADs and actors are usually all huddled together when we’re filming. In our new COVID world, we have to be more vigilant about who we stand by and for how long. Makeup and hair have changed quite a bit as well, with our team needing full PPE to get our actors ready for the day. There are less makeup and hair touches done on set to eliminate as many unneeded interactions as possible. So all in all, the set has become a little less crowded. 


 Do you think any of the changes that have been made because of Corona, will continue after Corona ends? If so, what changes?


Hayley: I think we are going to have these new standards of working for quite a while. There is no guarantee of a vaccine just yet, so the way we see it, we’re not looking towards the end of corona but always looking toward a better way to handle it. I think as time goes on, as we gain more experience working in the midst of this pandemic, we will begin to streamline the process even more than we have already. I believe the social distancing practices we’ve become accustomed to, and the routine of hand washing and sanitizing will remain for quite some time. We have all adapted to wearing masks for 12-16 hours in order to come to work and do what we love. Currently I do not see an end in sight for those things to revert back to pre-covid. 


 How has your personal job on set been affected by Corona?


Hayley: I am a production assistant for a television show, and one of my main duties is working with background actors. My job has been affected quite dramatically. The biggest change, In order to be able to safely bring outside people into our bubble we must schedule multiple COVID tests for them prior to the day they are required for set, and then when we do have them on set it’s about communicating clearly how our new set up works. Background is casted by a casting company here in Georgia so you really end up meeting a good portion of people from our state, some have never stepped on a set before.  So it really has come down to finding a concise way to communicate how our process has changed since COVID, and being vigilant about holding people responsible and making sure we’re all adhering to COVID rules. Background actors are required to wear masks the entire time they are with us, with the exception of when we are rolling. So keeping an eye on everyone on set, and making sure no one forgets to put their mask back on has become a large portion of my job.