Filming and COVID-19: Is risking lives worth your Netflix binge?

Arnojya Shree discusses whether filming is feasible in 2020

Arnojya Shree
23rd November 2020
Featured image credit: IMDb, 2020 Amazon Studios, Prime Video.
If there is one gospel truth during the pandemic, it is that art has helped us get through most days. With everyone locked up in their homes, some away from their families, some wholly isolated on their own, Covid-19 has more than paused our lives.

Our dependence on art, be it literature, music, cinema or paintings has been widely debated around the world. Amongst these, streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Hulu have definitely experienced a rise in their viewership and demand. Following through, a myriad of web series, films and television shows have been released on these platforms since then.

The Witcher season two has been paused mid-filming. Credit: IMDb

As pandemic reaches its first anniversary, it's not hard to ignore that somehow, streaming platforms continue their supply of new films and web shows every week. Some of these platforms continued shooting upcoming seasons of the popular shows when the lockdown had eased during July and August under strict government deadlines. Amongst these, Netflix's The Witcher season two resumed its shooting in the UK in August at Arborfield Studios, west of London.

However, with four new positive Covid tests, the shoot has now been temporarily halted until further notice. The confirmed cases exclude lead cast members for now. However, an additional round of isolated testing would take place for every member of the cast and crew. Similar to The Witcher season two, the shooting for Amazon Prime's The Boys season 2 had carried out extensive covid testing during its shoot.

It is easy to imagine the stress streaming media companies and investors face when a pandemic threatens their supply

The Boys season two was also difficult to film. Credit: IMDb.

With everything going around in the world and in our lives, especially when it comes to financial distress, it would be worthwhile to reconsider our increasing demand from streaming platforms. We live in a world of competition where continuous success and capitalisation upon that success is favoured most of all. When it comes to television shows, films and streaming platforms, this is no different, if not more. However, it is easy to imagine the stress streaming media companies, artists, directors, producers and investors face when a pandemic threatens their supply indefinitely and for an unforeseeable future compared to the demands.

COVID-19, in the past year, has changed everything around the world and continues to do so. But the need to meet the financial demands when the government can't do much to help is as hefty as it sounds. Following this, workplaces around the world have been open and remain open despite an alarming amount of positive tests and deaths by Covid. The shooting for television shows and movies is no different. It is an incessant industry which continues to feed us "with necessary precautions in effect". But as humans with decency who are also devoted audiences, it is high time we ask ourselves, is it really worth it?

Have we started measuring the value of human lives at the expense of consumerism?

Tests are expensive, especially when they need to be taken regularly. Credit: Pixabay.

We love our actors and directors, and let's not forget the thousands of crew members who work day and night tirelessly just so we could watch one more episode. However, human safety must always be a priority for our media industries and is this not a threat to the personal lives of people if shooting continues during the second wave of the pandemic? An excessive amount of money continues to be spent on covid safety measures every day on shoot locations to ensure its continuity. But it is not really necessary, is it? Not at the cost of people's health. Or have we started measuring the value of human lives at the expense of capitalistic consumerism?

Alternatively, there is a cumbersome minefield of shows and films which have already been produced. As the world continues to isolate and look for ways to remain safe and survive, there couldn't be a better time to bring those shows and films onto our streaming platforms. Not only would it be entertaining and insightful to the generations who aren't familiar to it but also act as the most joyful throwback for the ones who are.

Featured image credit: IMDb, 2020 Amazon Studios, Prime Video.

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