Unions say commercial shoots in L.A. can resume as pandemic restrictions ease

COVID-19 vaccine being administered
Darlene Dickens-Jeffers, right, senior manager of infection prevention at AltaMed Health Services, gives a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination to former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Commercials shoots, a key driver of local production, are set to resume on the streets of Los Angeles.

SAG-AFTRA, the Producers Guild of America and a bargaining group that represents commercial advertisers and advertising agencies agreed to lift a recommended halt to such productions, according to a joint statement Thursday.

The groups said the move, which will take effect Monday, was in line with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s recommendation, and they noted that COVID-19 testing exemptions for short-duration productions have been eliminated.


“While commercial and independent production may return to Southern California at this time, the parties maintain that film and television productions must abide by the industry-issued COVID-safety protocols and will continue to monitor and consider orders or recommendations issued by the Public Health Department,” the groups said in a statement.

Despite safety protocols, film producers and unions are still grappling with how and when to get back to work after a holiday pause.

Jan. 8, 2021

Earlier this month the trio recommended smaller-crewed commercial producers temporarily halt activity as the COVID-19 health crisis led to a shortage of intensive care beds in L.A. hospitals. L.A. County health officials also asked film and TV producers to minimize filming until the end of January.

Many Hollywood studios were pausing productions to allow more time for testing after the holidays, with some shows or films not restarting filming until mid-January. The commercials world didn’t have the same delay, and that is why industry groups recommended the hiatus.

After four weeks of declining hospitalizations, the county is now on its way out of its third surge of the pandemic, its deadliest yet. That means that film, TV and commercials productions can get back to work with less chance of being an additional burden on the healthcare system or fear that crew involved in accidents on set might not get treated.

In its annual report, FilmLA highlights how the shutdown of filming in 2020 due to the health crisis has led to a generational low in film activity.

Jan. 27, 2021


Shutdowns due the pandemic have caused the steepest dropoff in local production in a generation. On-location filming in the L.A. region produced just 18,993 shoot days in 2020, down 48% from 2019 — the lowest level in more than 25 years, according to a recent report by film-permitting group FilmLA.