coronavirus contagion

Contagion director Steven Soderbergh will lead a new Directors Guild of America commission on how Hollywood can get back to work, when it’s safe to do so.

“A major concern we’re hearing most right now is about when we’ll be returning to work, and how we can be certain that it’s safe to do so,” DGA President Thomas Schlamme and National Executive Director Russell Hollander said in a statement Thursday. While we don’t have an answer as to when production will resume, we are taking steps to address how we can be safe when it does happen.”

Soderbergh is uniquely situated for the role: He makes big and small movies alike, from blockbusters and Oscar contenders to smaller, more experimental films that may be the new normal if big productions can’t resume due to COVID-19 restrictions.

And of course, Contagion has been widely hailed as a predictor of the kind of pandemic COVID-19 has become, and has soared up streaming charts, nine years after its release. The film, starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Marion Cotillard, chronicles an outbreak of a fast-spreading deadly disease with no cure.

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“A National Board committee, spearheaded by Steven Soderbergh, and with members from all categories, has been appointed to do a thorough examination of the issues at hand, and to make recommendations to the Board. The committee is consulting with top epidemiologists in the field, and we will collaborate with our sister guilds and unions and the employers as we put together a comprehensive guide to help us all return safely to work,” the DGA statement says.

A second committee, meanwhile, will focus on reopening theaters — “on preserving the communal theatrical experience so that when it is safe to do so, your feature films intended to be seen on a big screen will have that opportunity,” the statement says.

The committee will be made up of feature film directors, assistant directors and unit production managers who “will begin working now to examine ways to promote that safe return to theatrical exhibition that’s so important for our culture and our art.”

You can read the full DGA statement on its plans for dealing with COVID-19 here.