Let’s turn this around, welcome 2021.
I remember the call I received last March 11, informing me that a crew member had come down with COVID. Two days later, we closed the Local 695 office, and since that day, we’ve been running most of the Local’s business remotely. Immediately, we circled the wagons and began reaching out to our members to see where we could help. We began the discussion with the management Trustees of the Motion Picture Plan on ways we could keep members and their families insured during this health crisis. Thankfully, the Plans have been managed well enough with many months of reserves, to carry us through the industry shutdown. These reserves were used to allow MPI participants who had coverage before the shutdown, continued family coverage.
We welcome a new year with a new President, Joe Biden, a longtime supporter of labor who knows that a strong economy comes from good union jobs. President Trump catered to corporations and killed most of the environmental and labor protections that took years to build. It is now time to restore our unions, focusing on working women and men to bring back the middle class. This is achieved by inclusion of all workers, no matter the color of their skin or how they identify.
With struggle comes opportunity. Coming out of the industry shutdown, we’ve experienced a need for additional Video Assist Operators on production. Many shows now want to provide Video Assist remote viewing to those people who would normally be on the set but due to COVID protocols, chose to work from afar. We have also seen an increase in the use of video playback on shows with large video walls being used as scenic backdrops. This is the modern version of the process shot used for decades on many productions. All this work has grown during the past year, and our Video Engineers are leading the way in the development of new workflows to meet the needs of today’s productions.
Looking ahead, we now have the vaccines to stem the spread of COVID. Productions will continue to ramp up to pre-COVID levels and more. The production environments we work in will gradually return to normalcy and we will once again be able to travel without fear of getting sick. I am in awe of how this industry took care of its brothers and sisters in the early dark days of the virus. We now see the light at the end of the dark tunnel, with hope in a new President who cares about us, the workers, the backbone of this country. It may be a slower transition than we hope for, but we will turn this around.