As filmmakers are forced to adapt to these crazy times perhaps no director is more equipped to shift gears in a crisis than Steven Soderbergh. The Oscar-winning director’s career has found him careening from glue-and-tape indies to big-budget studio fare, digital video, streaming television, and experimental formats and release strategies with ease.
In a recent interview in The New York Times alongside filmmaker Amy Seimetz, who stars in his next film “Kill Switch” and just opened her own directorial effort “She Dies Tomorrow,” Soderbergh spoke about how necessary safety protocols on film sets amid COVID will dictate how Hollywood moves forward, especially in the budget department.
“We have an ability on a project to control how we move, where we move, how many people come with us — it’s something that can be manipulated to keep people safe,” Soderbergh said. “I think if we can withstand the economic surcharge that’s going to come with keeping a project safe — which I estimate is between 15 to 20 percent of the budget, depending on the project — and if we can scale this quickly enough, then I know we can keep people safe.”
Productions are already up and running in Texas, California, and Vancouver, among other select states and cities, but with enforced testing, personal protective equipment, and social-distancing guidelines. Soderbergh, meanwhile, is heading up a Directors Guild committee to determine a path ahead.
“If you follow these protocols we’re about to finish up with, I feel pretty confident saying that you’re not going to get sick at work,” Soderbergh said. “If you got sick on one of our projects it was during the 12 to 14 hours when I didn’t have you and I couldn’t control your behavior. That’s going to be the trick, is all of this downtime when you don’t know what people are up to.”
Soderbergh said the biggest challenge is corralling the necessary resources and keeping them flowing amid an economically stunted moment for the industry. “I think the biggest issue now is because of the resurgence [of the virus], how do we get access to the resources and the personnel that we need to run these protocols to keep a set safe?” he said. “It’s one thing to do one or two projects and see how it goes, but there’s a movement in the last two or three weeks to get lots of …read more