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Where entertainment industry workers can go for help during the coronavirus crisis

Camera operator Fred Iannone moves on a camera dolly during shooting for "NCIS: Los Angeles."
Camera operator Fred Iannone moves on a camera dolly during shooting for “NCIS: Los Angeles,” which recently halted production.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a wave of shutdowns across the entertainment industry, from film shoots to concerts and music festivals.

Many crew members, assistants and other workers who have been living from paycheck to paycheck now are dealing with the fallout, as more than 100,000 workers in the entertainment industry are now out of a job.

“We are seeing many, many people in a desperate situation; the emails we are seeing are absolutely heartbreaking,” said Todd Vradenburg, executive director of Will Rogers Pioneers Assistance Fund, which helps workers in the motion picture business. “We are going to provide a little bit of relief to as many people as we possibly can.”

The Pioneers Assistance Fund is among many nonprofit groups, unions, businesses and individuals who’ve stepped up to assist those hardest hit by the crisis.

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Here’s where to get help:

  • The SAG-AFTRA Foundation has launched a COVID-19 disaster fund to provide emergency financial assistance to current SAG-AFTRA members. Assistance covers such basic expenses as rent, mortgage payments, utilities and medical bills. The union is providing dues relief to members and has detailed a list of resources on its website: https://sagaftra.foundation/assistance/disasterrelief. Foundation President Courtney Vance announced that the fund has distributed $1.7 million in emergency aid nationwide and is continuing to raise funds, he said.
  • Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Assistance Fund. The fund says it will spend millions trying to provide some relief to those who work in theatrical exhibition, distribution or vendors exclusive to it. Applicants can apply for help by calling (888) 994-3863, Ext. 6003, or via email at the website https://wrpioneers.org. On Monday, the group joined with the National Assn. of Theatre Owners to launch a $2.4-million fund to provide financial assistance to movie theater employees. Anyone who has worked in theatrical exhibition for a minimum of five years is eligible.
  • #PayUpHollywood, a group that has been advocating for the rights of assistants and support staff, along with several leading TV writers and others, has raised more than $500,000 for Los Angeles-based support staff affected by production shutdowns. It has partnered with the Actors Fund to provide one-time stipends of $1,000 to all qualified applicants. For application details go to: https://actorsfund.org/am-i-eligible-help and select “Hollywood Support Staff Relief Fund.”
  • The Motion Picture and Television Fund offers a variety of services to provide emotional and financial assistance to qualified industry members. MPTF President and CEO Bob Beitcher said the group’s intake line is four times busier than usual. “The calls are mainly focused ... around health insurance, around strategies for dealing with banks on mortgages and auto payments, landlords, utility companies and credit card companies,” Beitcher said. “There is high anxiety.” Beitcher said the fund is ready to help those in the industry in need of medical, financial and emotional assistance. For further information visit: https://mptf.com or call 323-634-3888.

  • The Directors Guild Foundation has created an emergency relief fund with financial grants of $1,000. For more information, DGA members can call the Motion Picture & Television Fund at (888) 356-0537. The DGA-Producer Pension and Health Plans also is offering premium-free COBRA coverage and supplemental pension plan loans. For questions, call (323) 866-2200, Ext. 502, or visit the union’s website.
  • The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees offers members resources and information on health plan waivers for testing for COVID-19. The union donated $2.5 million to three entertainment charities, including the Actors Fund. It is also working with employers on emergency measures and lobbying the federal government to ensure that displaced entertainment workers are included in relief efforts. IATSE members should visit the website https://www.iatse.net/coronavirus-update-portal for further details.
  • The Producers Guild of America, which includes associate producers and line producers, has offered a three-month extension to members who are unable to pay their dues. The guild has set up a relief fund with the support of a $100,000 gift from “Grey’s Anatomy” producer Mark Gordon. PGA members can apply for aid at https://actorsfund.org/gethelp.

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