It wasn’t long after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp made his announcement to reopen nonessential businesses across the state that Tyler Perry began mulling over reopening Tyler Perry Studios, based in Atlanta.
And although the director was forced to shut down the production of his BET series The Oval last month, he wants to resume production and reopen his studios in a way that encourages safety for his staff and crew members.
In an effort to return in the safest and healthiest way possible, Perry is thinking about drastic and elaborate measures to protect his crew—keeping in line with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’s recommendations. It’s already begun, he told Deadline, with the testing of 100 of his employees.
“Last week, I took 100 of my essential employees—including security guards and gardeners at the studio—and we did a test with a private lab. Thank God, out of the 100 essential workers, all tested negative,” he said. “My goal is to find a path forward to protect both the health and the livelihoods of my cast and crew.”
In the proposed plan, all the cast and crew members will have the opportunity to live on the studio lot, which boasts 330 acres, for the duration of the filming process, which is just under three weeks. What makes this plan feasible is that crew members would have access to facilities such as the gym, a restaurant and a bar on the premises.
“We will do three weeks at a time, then take a week off so the crew would go home to be with their families. Then they come back, and we start all over again,” he added. “There is another testing process. Everybody comes back; we lock down for three weeks while we shoot the next season of the next show.”
The director added that he plans to use additional precautions such as having the cast and crew retested during production after “four days into shooting, as an additional precautionary measure,” he told Deadline, while adding that he didn’t write any Oval scenes that had many extras, or large scenes in general.
Perry has been at the forefront of the coronavirus outbreak in Hollywood, just recently buying groceries during “senior hour” at Kroger stores across Atlanta.
He’s also publicly pleaded for Black people to take the coronavirus seriously. “While everyone can contract this virus, it is Black people who are dying from it in much larger numbers,” he wrote on Instagram earlier this month. “This thing is real, Black people.”
Last week, Governor Kemp’s decision to reopen tattoo parlors, hair salons, movie theaters, bowling alleys and more amid the novel coronavirus outbreak was met with harsh criticisms.