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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Cincinnati Movie Crews Pivot In New Pandemic Reality

Film Cincinnati
Film Cincinnati has been hosting Zoom sessions to keep crew members connected, give advice and put them in touch with industry experts.

With movies in the pipeline it would have been easy for Film Cincinnati to take a breather during the stay-at-home order, but instead it continued giving virtual tours to scouts and connecting with out-of-work crew members who now need to figure out a new normal.

Movie industry scouts are now traveling to Cincinnati again, but over the past few months Film Cincinnati Executive Director Kristen Schlotman was sending them information. 

"For every one location in the script we give them 10 ideas. But even that looks so different now because what we'll have to start thinking about is how productions can operate safety and how we can contain that footprint," she says.

It will look different. Makeup artist Jodi Byrne is already thinking about it. She mentions the previously close working conditions with trailers and transportation vans and closed sets. "I am concerned how things are changing and how soon they will open up," she says.

Already meticulous when it comes to cleaning, Byrne has purchased a UV light box to enhance the process when she starts working again. But she explained how difficult it is to attach eyelashes while wearing gloves.

Bryne has been out of work since movie sets and theaters shut down. She usually does 2-3 movies a year, Broadway productions and commercials. "Panic started setting in. I'm losing all my jobs. Then my back-up plan for that, I'm a cosmetologist. I can always go work in a salon and they shut down," says Byrne.

Schlotman and Film Cincinnati worked to raise $30,000 over the past few months to help unemployed crew members. "Ninety-six percent of our industry never walks the red carpet so these are all the people you never hear about," Schlotman says. "These are the carpenters. These are the teamsters, the hair and makeup people."

Her happy hour Zoom sessions are a hit with crews. Most recently she hosted one with award-winning producer Christine Vachon, who owns an independent film and TV production company.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.