For the entertainment industry, this has been a particularly difficult time. On a good day, the complexity of prepping for, managing, and successfully completing a production is staggering. Throw a pandemic into the mix and you have something that borders on seemingly impossible.
But, as it has done countless times before, the industry has pulled through. With clockwork testing regiments like the ones my company helps implement and an abundance of health and safety precautions, studios and production companies are making it work. Now, as we battle the next stage of the pandemic, one thing is clear: the road to continued success lies through vaccine mandates and continued testing protocols.
Over the past several months, anyone who's come within striking distance of a film or TV production knows that COVID-19 testing can be intense. In collaboration with studios and production companies, companies like ours have instituted complex zones and schedules to meet the challenges of a work environment staffed by dozens, sometimes hundreds, of people rotating through multiple sets on different days and at different locations.
This testing has been a life-saver, both literally and figuratively. It’s kept crews working, casts acting, and productions moving forward. More importantly, it has greatly reduced on-set outbreaks of coronavirus. This all-in approach to testing, which will likely continue for many months, if not much longer, is essential in battling COVID-19. But it’s not enough.
With the COVID-19 vaccines, we have a game-changing tool essential to helping entertainment companies get and keep productions on track. Because of this, vaccines offer studios and production companies a crucial advantage no amount of testing can provide: an ability to plan for the future.
There’s no doubt that vaccine mandates are a controversial topic, but Hollywood has never shied away from controversy. Often, it’s what it thrives on most. In this case, however, the science is in—and it shows that vaccines play a vital role in keeping people safe from COVID-19. For Hollywood, this means productions on which a full workforce is vaccinated will be exponentially more likely to function smoothly right up until wrap, with fewer costly delays, and, much more importantly, members of the cast or crew getting sick.
For the entertainment industry, this is the difference between disruptions that set production schedules back or derail projects entirely. It means keeping the industry moving forward and making sure the legions of talented people who make Hollywood magic happen have a job to return to. And, of course, it means providing a public hungry for great content with the entertainment they love.
But this can only happen if 100 percent of people on set are vaccinated. And that reality — which is well within reach — will only come to be when vaccine mandates are made policy throughout the industry.
Writing this, we are well aware how difficult and fraught this idea is. But after partnering so closely with countless productions over the past year and a half, we know it’s the only way forward. So, to that end, Kameo has mandated a 100 percent vaccinated workforce, a policy that has already proven to be beneficial to our business.
In great action movies, the hero often finds a silver bullet just in time to slay the monster. With COVID-19, there is no silver bullet. What we do have, however, is a viable and sustainable approach defined by a smart array of tactics and tools.
When we step back and look at the bigger picture, it’s clear that, together, routine testing and vaccinated sets are what will keep entertainment alive.
Matt Hibberd is the CEO of Kameo, the leading provider of flexible COVID-19 testing and management services for the entertainment production industry. Prior to Kameo, he served as the Head of Kin U.S. for Kin, the largest blockchain ecosystem on the market.