The pandemic shut down major Hollywood productions in March and five months later it is still unclear when most TV and film projects will start back up again.
In Chicago, right now is typically when the three NBC shows from Dick Wolf ("Chicago Fire," "Chicago Med" and "Chicago P.D.") begin work on the new season. That's obviously been delayed. There's also the fourth season of FX's "Fargo," starring Chris Rock, which was nearing the end of its shoot here in town when the shutdown hit; producers are hoping to find a way to finish work on that quickly.
There have been ongoing conversations about possible starting dates in the next month or two for all of these shows. But nothing is official just yet, according to Bradley Matthys, president of the local IATSE Studio Mechanics union, which represents the majority of crew people who work on TV and film. "The producers and unions continue to negotiate," he said, "and while there have been many things agreed to, there are still many issues undecided." Everyone is hopeful; everything is in flux.
We know concerns about health and safety will shape how TV and film gets made and it's possible we'll see significant changes -- changes that were already in the works, but might be more rapidly adopted thanks to the challenges posed by COVID-19.
What might the near future look like?
Think digital and virtual.
The more a production can control its environment -- and who enters it -- the better. That could mean fewer scenes shot on location, with everything done on sound stages instead using high-resolution, three-dimensional photorealistic video backdrops.
Instead of a green screen, it's creating a virtual reality that the actors can see and inhabit -- interiors, landscapes, whatever.
This kind of sophisticated technology already exists for video games an it's how "The Mandalorian" was shot for Disney+.
Richard Janes is an entertainment analyst and the founder of the influencer studio Fanology. He recently wrote about what kind of changes he sees coming.