Movie shoots paused because of COVID-19 starting back up, including in Pittsburgh area

Movie shoots paused because of COVID-19 starting back up, including in Pittsburgh area

PITTSBURGH — From the Southern Hills of California to the South Side of Pittsburgh, movie studios are restarting production on projects paused due to the pandemic.

“This is the first big project. We’ve done some smaller ones. There was a documentary in town. We’ve done a lot of commercials,” said Virginia Phillips.

Phillips is talking about the new Netflix series that’s about to start recording in Warrendale next month.

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Phillips is the business agent for local 489 I.A.T.S.E. studio mechanics.

She represents the people behind the camera who work on movies that are shot in Pittsburgh, such as “Batman” and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”

“I feel very blessed, and we are lucky that we are starting back to work because, without this, it’s devastating. My members are running out of unemployment,” Phillips said.

They shut down production on movies in Pittsburgh and across the country after COVID-19 hit in march.

And recently, unions in Hollywood and other groups agreed on a safety plan for movie crews to go back to set.

It includes mandatory testing on a regular basis, wearing masks and putting in more sanitation stations, among other things.

“This is a great economic generator. It employs over 5,000 people here in the region, and it uses a lot of local businesses,” said Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office.

She said every time a movie or Netflix show comes to southwestern Pennsylvania, that means money for local hotels, car rentals, restaurants and so much more.

“Small businesses have been impacted by this closer, and we’re hoping to get everybody back up and running sooner rather than later,” Keezer said.

They’re hoping that this new safety plan will bring more productions to the city.

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