RICHMOND, Va. -- The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated numerous professions this year, but the television and film industry appears to be an outlier in Central Virginia.
Currently, three productions are in various phases of operation in the Metro Richmond area, according to the Virginia Film Office.
Filming just started in Richmond on a limited tv series for Hulu called "Dopesick." Apple TV is working on a show based on NBA star Kevin Durant’s life called "Swagger" and filming is underway for season 2 of "The Walking Dead: World Beyond" on AMC.
“These three shows alone will be north of $120 million in direct spending over the next eight months in the Richmond area,” said Virginia Film Office Director Andrew Edmunds.
The demand for content has surged as families across the world were ordered to stay home. Edmunds said along with the demand comes good paying jobs for Virginians.
“It’s not about swimming pools and movie stars and Hollywood. It’s about on-the-ground hands on work. There are electricians and there are carpenters,” he explained.
One project hired 55 carpenters to construct sets. The growth in the industry parallels the need to comply with COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions set by governors and the CDC.
Production must also follow the health protocols as stated by the Directors Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild and other industry organizations.
“Only the essential people that need to be on set are either on camera or behind the camera. That’s it,” Edmunds stated. “What used to take a 50,000 square foot space to accommodate the work now requires about 250,000 square feet, so they can create the separation.”
Edmunds said the film industry creates jobs that can’t be replaced by automation.
CBS 6 spoke to Bourke Floyd via Zoom from his trailer inside an undisclosed production set in the area. The Richmond-native started acting professional more than 25 years ago.
“I love acting. I love entertaining. I love putting on a show,” Floyd explained.
In addition to his acting duties, Floyd must comply with stringent rules when on set.
“Temperature checks before you even talk to anybody, you got a mask on the entire time, you get your COVID test before you talk to anybody,” Floyd said.
Employees conduct testing and tracings of those involved in the film making. Teams are separated to ensure a virus exposure doesn’t take over the entire production.
Floyd said he welcomes the restrictions that allow him to continue the profession he's worked hard to achieve.
“I wouldn’t let something like the pandemic get between me and doing what I love,” he said.