The Show Must go on
Quiet on the set
The COVID-19 pandemic created a unique problem in the entertainment industry; behind the scenes of your favorite movies, TV shows, and commercials are hundreds, sometimes thousands, of cast and crew members who make the magic happen. Close quarters, long hours, and extremely tight schedules are commonplace on every set. The phrase “time is money” is most true on a production set where typically the crew is made up of freelancers with hourly rates.
To keep up with production schedules throughout the pandemic and comply with union guidelines, like SAG-AFTRA, productions couldn’t go on without fast, reliable, and affordable COVID-19 Real-Time RT-PCR screening.
In a complicated industry where schedules, locations, and people change every day, production companies needed a lab familiar with the industry, and that could remain flexible without sacrificing the quality of the tests.
It was also vital that actors and crew members who were required to be in close quarters with one another were able to get tested and learn their results as quickly as possible.
Not one, not two, but all of the guidelines for testing were required to keep productions open:
- Comply with union guidelines, which required a lab-based Real-Time RT-PCR test
- Flexible test schedule and location
- Concierge services available
- Fast results
- Low cost
What molecular lab was prepared to take on the unique struggles of the entertainment industry?
Cue in One Health Labs
One Health Labs had recently received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA for our SARS-CoV-2 Real-Time PCR test using an end-to-end portable system. Without the need for a full lab, our end-to-end system uniquely qualified us to enable the entertainment industry to reopen Hollywood and resume productions that had halted for many months due to COVID-19.
The biggest problem we faced? One Health Labs was headquartered in Philadelphia, NOT in Los Angeles. In the span of three weeks, One Health Labs established a brand-new CLIA lab in Los Angeles from the ground up, hired a team of lab employees, trained them, and launched testing for Sony Entertainment’s productions directly on the Culver City production lot. We like to say we built the plane while we were flying it!
With the help of the team at One Health Labs, productions were able to resume. Our team of lab technicians collected, tested and reported on thousands of patients each week on the lot of Culver City. We found when productions remained proactive by conducting COVID-19 screening three times per week, positive COVID-19 cases could be caught before causing an outbreak on set. This allowed already tight production schedules to stay on track while remaining safe, not only saving the production companies from costly shutdowns but also avoiding overlapping contracts for union staff.
As our relationship with Sony Entertainment grew, so did our presence across the United States. One Health Labs established labs in Albuquerque, NM, Atlanta, GA, New York, NY, Chicago, IL, Pittsburgh, PA, and New Orleans, LA to test on the set of movies, TV shows, and commercials!