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COVID-19 FILM RESOURCES

Last Updated: May 26, 2020

GUIDANCE FOR PRODUCTIONS

During this unprecedented time, the health and well-being of our local community and industry professionals is vital. Here in Austin and Travis County, public officials have issued moratoriums prohibiting public gatherings of more than 10 people — exempting essential locations like grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and retail stores. People are asked to take part in social distancing at all times, keeping at least 6 feet apart. In addition, there is a Stay at Home-Work Safe Order currently in effect, mandating that residents stay at home, except for essential activities and essential businesses, to prevent further spread of COVID-19. If in public a mask is required. This order is in place through June 15, 2020 with the option to extend.

Under Governor Abbott's set of Executive Orders known as Open Texas, the State of Texas is slowly reopening in phases to ensure the safety workers and the general public. Austin, like all other jurisdictions within the State of Texas, is adhering to the mandates set forth in Governor’s Open Texas Executive Orders.

Phase 1 of 'Open Texas' went into effect on May 1, 2020 and is applicable to business establishments and their customers in the following categories: Retail, Restaurants, Movie Theaters, Museums & Libraries, Places of Worship, Outdoor Sports Facilities, Single-Person Offices, and Salons & Barbershops.

Phase 2 of 'Open Texas' went into effect on May 18, 2020 and is applicable to business establishments and their customers in the following categories in the following roll out order: Child Care Centers (May 18), Massage & Personal-Care Centers (May 18), Youth Clubs (May 18), Rodeo & Equestrian Events (May 22), Bowling Alleys, Bingo Halls, Simulcast Racing, & Skating Rinks (May 22), Bars (May 22), Aquariums & Natural Caverns (May 22), Food Courts (May 27), Zoos (May 29), Water Parks (May 29), Day Youth Camps (May 31), Overnight Youth Camps (May 31), Youth Sports (May 31), and Certain professional sports without in-person spectators (May 31).

Both Phases 1 and 2 of 'Open Texas' is not applicable to on-location film, television and commercial production - those Open Texas dates and requirments have not yet been set.

Phase II does allow for offices to open with 25% of the occupancy level. If you own or rent a production office or studio space with an office connected, it is applicable under this definition as long as all outlined requirements are met. You can find the minimum requirements for offices and the other Phase II businesses detailed by the Governor’s Office Open Texas website: https://gov.texas.gov/organization/opentexas

Film, television and commercial productions in Austin should continue to observe and adhere to the health and regulatory recommendations of national, state and local public health officials. The Austin Film Commission is in close contact with regional public health officials and elected officials, as well as with international film associations, and is actively communicating with you as the situation changes.

In accordance with the protocols outlined in Phase 1 and 2 of the 'Open Texas' plan, those businesses can can open are mandated to do so with a limited compasity and ALL employers will be required to: train employees on appropriate sanitation techniques, provide health screenings for employees upon arrival at work, practice safe distancing measures, provide hand-washing and sanitizing stations and materials, and to suggest the use of masks and face coverings.

CITY OF AUSTIN RESOURCES

The City of Austin’s Public Health department is actively involved in the response to COVID-19. For the latest local news including safety information, emergency mandates and additional Austin resources, please visit www.austintexas.gov/COVID19

The City of Austin Economic Development Office has a number of Economic Recovery Resources in place or coming online soon:

  • City of Austin’s ATXrecovers.com - One-stop resource to help individuals, businesses, and non-profits recover from the financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The website features up-to-date lists of resources for businesses and individuals; updates on local, state, and federal recovery policies; and economic indicators for the local economy.

  • City staff are creating a spending framework for the $170 million that Austin received through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The details for a portion of this spending framework will be shared publicly during the May 21 City Council meeting.

  • In the coming weeks, the City of Austin will make announcements regarding the Creative Space Disaster Relief Program with grants for Austin creatives financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

STATE OF TEXAS RESOURCES

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) oversees the state's unemployment benefits system. If your employment has been affected by COVID-19, you can apply for those benefits. TWC will investigate why you lost your job and mail a decision explaining whether you are eligible for unemployment benefits. Applications are accepted via:

TWC is aware that there may be the long wait times due to the unprecedented increase in filings and are working diligently to accommodate these requests. TWC have set some recommendations to help ease the backlog in applying.

FEDERAL RESOURCES

On March 27, an emergency relief bill known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act became law to help order to help bolster the U.S. economy through the following initiatives: 

  • The federal government will send a one-time economic stimulus payment that will be direct-deposited (or mailed) based the filing of 2019 or 2018 taxes. The federal government is sending up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child, depending on your income.
  • Through the Small Business Administration (SBA), there will be a Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) up to $10,000 that may convert to a grant. Click here to apply.
  • The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. All loan terms will be the same for everyone. Click here to apply.

The US Department of Labor has issued new workplace protections through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has changed the federal income tax filing and payment deadlines to July 15 to assist the economic impact of COVID-19.

UNION RESOURCES

Directors Guild of America (DGA) – Loans & Waivers
The DGA is offering interest-free loans to members in need of financial aid and is waiving all patient costs for coronavirus testing for individuals that use the guild’s health plan.

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) - Relief Fund
IATSE National Benefit Fund has waived all fees for COVID-19 testing for a number of membership health plan levels and is extending its annuity hardship withdrawals to include members who need Coronavirus financial aid from job losses. 

Producers Guild of America (PGA) – Members Relief Fund
The PGA Members Relief Fund is being administered through The Actors Fund which offers resources and assistance for entertainment professionals in all areas of the industry.

Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) – COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund
The SAG-AFTRA Disaster Relief Fund aids members with basic expenses, including rent, mortgage payments, medical bills, and utilities.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

RELIEF FUNDS

FAQ

What actions are being undertaken in Austin, following news of the positive cases?
Austin Public Health is closely monitoring the rapidly evolving situation in coordination with the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local and regional public health and healthcare agencies. APH has developed a five-phase plan to coordinate COVID-19 response activities. We are currently in Phase 5:

  • Phase 1: Persons Under Monitoring
  • Phase 2: Persons Under Investigation (Testing in Progress)
  • Phase 3: Confirmed Case(s) (No Person-to-Person spread)
  • Phase 4: Limited Person-to-Person Spread (Close/Household Contacts)
  • Phase 5: Sustained Person-to-Person Spread in the Community

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

APH has also activated our Department Operations Center to allow for enhanced response coordination, provided symptom monitoring for residents returning to Austin/Travis County from travel abroad, and provided prevention messaging to health care professionals, businesses, schools, and the general public. Additionally, the Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations Center (ATCEOC) has been activated.

What the public do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?
The CDC recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of COVID‑19:

  • Wash hands often for 20 seconds and encourage others to do the same. If no soap and water are available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Practice social distancing. This includes avoiding crowds and minimizing physical contact. Stand at least 6 feet apart.
  • Avoid touching your face. 
  • Cover your face around others. Cough and sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
  • Disinfect surfaces, buttons, handles, knobs, and other places touched often.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you can.
  • If you are sick and think you have been exposed, stay home and contact a healthcare provider for advice.

Where can I go with urgent questions related to COVID-19?
If you think you are sick with COVID‑19, read more here about what to do. Should you have urgent questions for Austin Public Health about coronavirus information which haven’t already been addressed online or through regional updates, please call or email their team at 512-974-2000 / austin311@austintexas.gov.

The film and television industry is hurting. I am stuck at home, what can I do to help?
Though it does not seem like it at times, taking part in Stay Home-Work Safe is helping stop the spread of COVID-19.

You are right, the film industry supports many local businesses and jobs. If you can, please take a few minutes to fill out the American for the Arts: Economic Impact of COVID-19 Survey to support the entertainment industries. The survey is designed to collect information about the financial and human impacts that the spread of the coronavirus have had on workers within the industry parsed by specific geographic regions, artistic disciplines, and budget categories.

Support your local businesses! Now is a great time to buy a gift certificate or membership for one (or two, or three) of the local cinemas temporarily shuttered due to COVID-19. Get a badge for one of the over 30 amazing annual film and television festivals that are held right here in Austin. Maybe you have the itch to create... If it's time to buy or rent equipment to make a your movie, get your filmmaking tools from one of the many amazing Austin-based vendors!

Now is also the time to update or create your Austin Production Directory listing, be it a for your business or or your freelance crew member entry. The listing is free! Market yourself for those employment opportunities are around the corner. Get your contact details out there and let producers know about your skills and previous credits. The directory is also very helpful for us to track industry freelancer and businesses in the region, so when we are working with legislatures to get a more competitive film incentive, we can let them know how many constituents are impacted.

IATSE are gathering signatures for online petition asking Congress to include displaced entertainment workers in the COVID-19 relief package.

So I am stuck at home... What do I watch?
Austin content of course! For over 50 years, feature films and television series have been produced in Austin. We have a rich history of big and small screen stories told by Austinites and made by hard working, talented local technicians who are our friends and neighbors. There are hundreds of those titles streaming online. There is literally something for everyone. Keep Austin state of mind. Be sure to share with your friends and family too! Here is where to find Austin streaming titles online:

  • We have weekly recommendations for you via the Austin Insider Blog, looking back decade-by-decade at what #madeinAustin films are out there to stream.
  • The wonderful Screens staff at the Austin Chronicle have curated daily film recommendations via the Now Streaming In Austin series.
  • The Austin Film Society (AFS) Cinema is offering some of their anticipated programming via AFS Cinema Virtual Screenings.
  • The Violet Crown Cinema is working with distributors to offer a selection of films online via Violet Crown Virtual Screenings.

Food and film go hand in hand! Make it dinner and a movie if you can, please support your favorite local restaurants offering take out and delivery options!

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