Coronavirus and Production – When & How to Begin to Reopen Prop Houses

Many of us have had to tighten belts or make difficult decisions as the entire entertainment industry continues to be locked down. Thankfully California Governor Newsom has been “formally working with the film industry” to get guidelines set up, hopefully, by the end of the this coming weekend.

Los Angeles County has been hit harder than most of the State of California and so will be more slowly opened up by both the governor and local county officials. As we continue to wait here are some helpful pieces of information for both individuals in art departments and their related businesses:


IATSE has created IATSE Cares – a resource page for union members (and plenty of info for non-union too) to assist in staying informed along with distributing help where needed. They also recently hired a small team of epidemiologists to consult on best practices when looking to ramp up productions again. A “white paper” has begun to be circulated among government officials and various Guilds/Unions on suggestions for how to reopen production.

If you have been unemployed than you should have also signed up for Unemployment Insurance through your local state. Even if you were on payroll for a bit in the last 18 months (which affects potential availability of gig-worker benefits in California) the federal addition of $600 on top of whatever small amount the state may be paying should help you more than nothing.


Though the end is in sight, some may not have been able to take advantage of the CARES Act resources available yet. The LA CARES Corps was put together specifically for this reason. If you have run into roadblocks getting funding, especially SBA Loans/Grants in the form of EIDL and PPP, reach out to them. They are here to help you get what you need.

When to open up again and what that looks like are two very difficult questions to address. This applies to all industries but is uniquely challenging for the businesses that directly work with art departments. Some businesses, primarily retail-centric ones, have decided to only sell for the moment and not rent. For others that is simply not possible, notably for prop houses who’s inventories contain priceless and irreplaceable pieces.

Los Angeles County has created some “Toolkits” for businesses to use as guides when reopening. There are some posters and related artwork you can print out and post around your workspace available to download alongside more information about how certain businesses should look to reopen. Most entertainment related businesses break into two different kinds on this list; Retail and Manufacturing.

Any business that has a retail space, especially ones that are frequented by individuals simply shopping around for themselves and not just for a production, most likely fall into this category.
You can download LA County’s guidelines for this type of business here.

Businesses that are mainly fabrication, such as sign shops and prop fabrication shops, as well as warehouses that only rent out to productions most likely fit under the Manufacturing category.
You can download the LA County’s guidelines for this type of business here.

Due diligence should be practiced to determine which type of business you would fall under, whether reaching out to Los Angeles County or your own personal representation, to ensure you are enacting the proper re-opening procedures.

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

The CDC has a few handy tools centered around business:

Their website has some helpful information about disinfecting surfaces, a helpful tool to make an informed decision about reopening, and additional guidelines to inform how to reopen.

Los Angeles County Public Health Dept.

If you’re feeling particularly in the mood to read there are always even more resources available. Los Angeles County Public Health Department has a slew of documents to rummage through:

Here are quick links to their current reopening protocols for the two most common prop related businesses:

As the country, and in some ways more importantly California, look to begin recovering in the film and television industry it’s important to stay connected with those you can. These last few months have not been easy and there will be more bumps along the way but hopefully by the end of the Summer there will be more production than we could hope for!

2 thoughts to “Coronavirus and Production – When & How to Begin to Reopen Prop Houses”

  1. Excellent article. This seems to be the big question today. It almost seems like things wont be normal for another year or two, but even then it may not be the same for years. Industries like retail, hotel, travel, and a number of other sectors have been hit hard. The difficult part of dealing with a virus is that things easily become infected again. I work at BioTechs, a biohazard remediation company, and we have to warn commercial clients that once we disinfect a property that it is very easy for an employee to come back in and infect the place again. These are absolutely unusual times. Be safe out there, and thank you for sharing! 🙂

  2. great article , especially for these crazy times. We have worked in the film industry for decades and last year we started a new business in extreme cleanup and Disinfection. How crazy is it that we did this right before the corona pandemic. We started Exit Biohazard and Crime Scene Cleanup and Disinfection services. and since all of this has hit we need to keep the film industry healthy once we get back. We push for more disinfection on set and on productions as often as needed.

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