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Netflix’s Sarandos seeks safe production

Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, has outlined how he believes film and television production can safely resume amid the coronavirus crisis.

Ted Sarandos

In an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, Sarandos detailed how the differences in availability of testing for Covid-19 in South Korea, Japan and Iceland – the countries where Netflitx has been able to resume production – have shaped the streamer’s strategy.

“Circumstances vary significantly country by country, and even city by city. So, directors and showrunners need to work with local health authorities to adopt safeguards that take account of the situation on the ground. There is no one size fits all,” Sarandos said.

Netflix has been filming Move to Heaven and Love Alarm in South Korea and Katla in Iceland, while it is due to start shooting again in Sweden this month and Norway in July.

Sarandos emphasised the importance of protocols to maintain high standards of hygiene on set, including readily available hand sanitiser, masks and gloves as well as social distancing for the crew.

The Netflix veteran also said productions would inevitably have to be rejigged, with crowd shoots and action and intimate scenes needed to be postponed, as well as filming that requires international travel.

“Some shows will need to rewrite scripts or look to add visual effects to what previously would have been shot live. For others, that may be impossible. But if we can get some production going again, safely and smartly, we can learn how best to film under these restricted conditions,” said Sarandos.

“The business of bringing stories to life on screen 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.

“None of this is easy, and many questions remain unanswered. But we are cautiously optimistic that we can adapt to this restricted reality. So are filmmakers in Australia, Tyler Perry in Atlanta and others across the industry. There are thousands more crew members anxious to return to work, and millions of people relying on the entertainment they produce.

“As we’ve seen during this period of isolation, stories can help connect people even when they are apart. 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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