Legendary film director and producer Orson Welles once said: “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” Setting limitations is exactly what television, streaming and film executives are doing to safely create content amid the pandemic.
As the industry moves closer to pre-pandemic levels of production, carriers are busier than ever handling increased demand from studios, networks and streaming providers. However, after being hit hard with payouts and claims throughout 2020, carriers are no longer willing to provide coverage for COVID-19-related claims. Most entertainment insurance packages are now excluding coverage for communicable diseases, like COVID-19.
With no financial safety net, entertainment executives are getting creative, not just on the big and small screens, but on set.
To keep sets safe and mitigate the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak shutting down production and costing a significant portion of a project’s budget, the industry has developed extensive protective protocols. Concern for cast and crew is not only a driver, but also a financial necessity.
Producers now have engaged epidemiologists, not only to consult on the accuracies of a script, but also to understand how to keep the cast and crew safe and the production rolling.
Some production companies are mandating vaccines for all cast and crew. Other safety protocols include: mask mandates, frequent testing, social distancing and contact tracing. Cast and crew members are also being put into specific bubbles to limit any spread of the virus and multiple bubbles are ensuring the production continues even if someone contracts the virus. It’s a very strict environment, but producers are determined to find ways to get things done.
Though these protocols are making filming possible, producers continue to face challenges that threaten progress. Increasing positive COVID cases due to the Delta variant, debates over vaccinations and negotiations with trade unions are hindering efforts to push productions forward. In addition, these protocols are adding upwards of 10% to budgets - though many producers deem the added cost worth it in order to continue creating projects that will bring in revenue.
Managing Live Event Risks
Outside of studio production risks, coverage costs for live events are also increasing, even with exclusions. And event cancellation coverage is not only pricey, but difficult to obtain because of the pandemic. Carriers have exited the marketplace and those who have remained are cautious with capacity and implementing strict underwriting guidelines.
If a live performance shuts down due to COVID-19 it will likely not be covered, even if it’s being forced to cancel because of local, state or federal regulations. Municipal rules and regulations mitigating COVID-19 are constantly changing city-to-city and state-to-state. This is becoming a challenge for event producers and making it harder to map out tours.
Strategic planning of live events is evolving and not as controllable as film, television and streaming productions. For instance, the individual views of artists on vaccinations are a factor. Because of this, live events are going to return at a much slower rate compared to film and TV.
Protocol vigilance and updating will remain vital for all entertainment executives and producers to adapt to the changing political landscape, virus’s status, and coverage availability.
The Discussion Continues: North American Contingency Association Conference
The industry-wide discussion about mitigating exposures within entertainment will continue at the North American Contingency Association (NACA) conference in Austin, Texas beginning October 20th. Risk Strategies’ experts Tavy Smith and Scott Schachter will sit on a panel that further explore entertainment insurance trends in the wake of covid. The premier entertainment insurance event, this year’s NACA event promises to offer timely, crucial counsel to insurance professionals navigating the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the entertainment industry. We hope to see you there – get in touch with us below to meet up. We hope to see you there – get in touch with us below to meet up.
Follow ‘The Other Side’ blog series as we continue to explore the post-COVID landscape across industries.
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The contents of this article are for general informational purposes only and Risk Strategies Company makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information contained herein. Any recommendations contained herein are intended to provide insight based on currently available information for consideration and should be vetted against applicable legal and business needs before application to a specific client.