'Hollywood, The Sequel,' Episode 12: 'No Going Back to Normal with Guillermo del Toro, Zack Arnold and Laine Trzinski'

The Frame


Welcome to our podcast. It's where we asked some of the entertainment industry's brightest minds how Hollywood might reinvent itself as it comes out of the pandemic coming up filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. But first, we ask our guests in every episode, what they would do to fix Hollywood and we've talked with actors, directors, executives, and writers. But, what about the people on the frontlines the below the line workers as they're called in the business, they do vital work behind the scenes and they have a lot to say about what needs to change Hollywood is going to thrive after the pandemic members of the gig economy people that are creative professional's in. Hollywood, we're essentially chewed up and we are spit out. We are treated like we are widgets we are commodities that can be replaced. That's Zach Arnold he's a film and TV editor. He's worked on shows like empire burn notice and glee he got a lot of attention for a blog post he wrote about what could happen when production resumes the title Dear, Hollywood? We don't WANNA go back. To normal normal wasn't working. It had come from me having hundreds of conversations with people that all said the same thing because of the pandemic I had this immense amount of self awareness of how much I hated my life before all this started. Now that I'm not driving I realized how much I hated my commute now that I'm not working eighteen hours, I realized how much time I lost with my children and I received hundreds upon hundreds of responses I'm still getting them, and I still can't sift through all of them. Arnold's blog is called optimize yourself and gives advice about work life balance, which is really important in an industry that is notorious for grueling hours with no guarantee of steady employment. Arnold shares a story that he heard from film editor Walter Merch, he worked on the Godfather and apocalypse. Now, it was a famous story back in the mid to late seventies about a film that was vastly over budget and had very tight deadlines and everybody was just getting pushed to the limit with twenty hour days and they went to one of the heads of post production at Universal Studios and said, we have to do something about these demands. Everybody is dropping like flies and the response was get more flies. Nothing has changed in the last forty years. It's all about everybody having to create a miracle such that today's Miracle Dust becomes tomorrow's expectation and whatever it takes however many people it takes to figure this out they throw people at the problem and as soon as somebody can't deliver anymore they find somebody else that will and I think this is a systemic issue that needs to change, and if ever there was a time to figure it out I think it's right now the most immediate problem with that get more flies solution is that if someone on test positive for coronavirus, it isn't simply a matter of replacing that person one infected crew member could shut down an entire production. And the safety protocols that you need to prevent that that requires time and attention and money. So what we can't do a separate, the conversation of safety from the conversation of ours because the two are inextricably linked. If you're going to have a safer set, you need to have people that are healthy that have strong immune systems that are not sleep deprived. That are working regular hours. I don't know why it has gotten to a point where. We do work such long hours when honestly to have any sort of life, we shouldn't Laney trubisky is one of the many industry gig workers who read Zak's blog post she's a hairstylist and she's been in the business since nineteen ninety-three. But back in March when the pandemic hit her work stopped Gosh, it's just been ups and downs my feelings change every single day I'm not sure if I even willing to remain in the film business. Because the film business, we had before very stressful and was very hard on a lot of families and people and things have to change their for sure the hours for her makeup teams some of the longest onset they have to be there before the actors arrive and can't leave until the actors are done. Laney says the norm are fourteen or sixteen hour days, and she has worked for twenty four hour days in her career, but she's hopeful. Things will get better. There's so much time entailed in getting our disinfecting right before we even get to work and get to working on the actors that the film business is going to have to slow down I. Don't think it has a choice anymore, and I, think it will be beneficial for all of us. Laney's work requires her to be on set but people like Editors Zach? Arnold. Well, they can do a lot of their work from home. As long as their bosses sign off, just had the conversation this week with an assistant editor who was told that in order for them to be able to keep their job, they have to work in the office and they have to go into a screening room with ten or fifteen directors and producer. They can take notes because that's just the way that it is in its quote unquote impossible to. Work from home we've now learned that's not the case and people are just making these excuses number one because they don't want to put in the effort or number two because they don't Wanna spend the money but guess what disruption is uncomfortable, it is painful but this is the point where we're going to have to fix these issues because you can't just say to somebody sorry informed the standards or we're. Going to hire somebody else while it might have been possible in the past for the people doing the hiring to point to a pile of resumes and say, if you don't do this job, someone else will arnold says that's changing. Now there's nobody on that stack because nobody's willing to go in under these circumstances and that is why I think Cova such an inflection point for post for Hollywood generals that. Before whenever we've thought about what are the consequences? Well, it's going to be really long days and I'm going to be really sleep deprived and something might happen. But what are the chances now we're literally talking about losing our lives if we do this wrong and I think that is the big change that we're seeing just emotionally the groundswell is people saying your entertainment is not worth me giving my life.

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