‘Contagion’ Director Steven Soderbergh Leads Hollywood Committee to Restart Movie and TV Production Post COVID-19

In April 2020, it was announced that the director of Contagion, Steven Soderbergh, would lead a committee founded by Directors Guild of America. Their mission? To figure out how movies and television shows can return to regular production after the global pandemic. The COVID-19 outbreak closed down most film and TV sets.

‘Contagion’ director Steven Soderbergh heads DGA committee

Steven Soderbergh
Director Steven Soderbergh attends the Contagion premiere at the 68th Venice Film Festival at Palazzo del Cinema in 2011 | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

RELATED: ‘Contagion’ Screenwriter Reacts to the Movie’s Surge in Popularity Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

As the Los Angeles Times reported recently, the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, hosted an “event touting a return to filming.”

Director Steven Soderbergh whose credits range from Erin Brokovich to Side Effects to Magic Mike, was also in attendance, answering questions from the press.

As the Times continued, Soderbergh discussed his new DGA committee’s goals, “as well as the unexpected prognostication of Contagion.”

The 2011 pandemic movie has come back into the cultural conversation now that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on across the world.

In the film Contagion, characters speak about social distancing and washing your hands for 20 seconds — at the time what seemed like small details now eerily relevant parts of our day. Soderbergh and the Contagion screenwriter, Scott Z. Burns, did a lot of research on pandemics, talking to scientists at the Center for Disease Control and other infectious disease experts. Perhaps that’s part of the reason that Soderbergh is heading up the committee.

Hollywood will come back to life after the COVID-19 pandemic

“The good news is there’s absolutely going to be a way to go back to work and to keep people safe,” Soderbergh explained to reporters. The Contagion director continued on his plan to get Hollywood back to work:

I think what’s happening at the moment is a series of very detailed conversations amongst the guilds and the producers about how to really refine the approach. But I feel very confident in how this is going, that this will be solved and that we will be able to get people back to work safely.

Soderbergh went on, highlighting the fact that there is still a lot to figure out.

coronavirus halts film production
Sony Picture Studios halts film and TV production amid the coronavirus pandemic | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

“I think the question everybody’s asking is whatever the series of guidelines or protocols is, how quickly can it scale?” the filmmaker shared. “And that’s still an open question because of the resource issues that everybody is having in the country.”

However, Soderbergh seemed to be up to the challenge. He said: “I think the coming up with a plan to keep people safe actually turns out to be not that difficult. When you talk to an epidemiologist, it’s pretty clear what you have to do.”

However, the bigger question mark is not when, but how we get back to “normal” when it comes to movie and TV production.

“… can we get back to the period just before COVID took everything over — 250 TV shows, 50 movies, 50 variety-reality specials, that’s a lot of activity,” the Contagion director wondered.

‘Contagion’ filmmaker answers questions about the 2011 pandemic movie’s development and production

Looking at how the coronavirus disease began, the Contagion filmmaker was not surprised. Soderbergh said of the movie:

Everybody we talked to when we were preparing that film, every expert, when we asked them how will the next one start, to a person, they said, wet market, Asia, there’s probably going to be a bat involved. Literally all of them. Ten years ago, 11 years ago. So it’s not a surprise.

Contagion premiere cast
Luciana Bozan Barroso and Matt Damon attend the Contagion premiere in 2011 | Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

However, despite the Contagion filmmakers’ intensive pandemic research, there are certain aspects that have shocked Soderbergh.

“… there’s a lot of really fascinating human behavior that we didn’t even think about when we were doing this,” he explained. “It’s just a reminder of how deeply irrational we are.”

RELATED: ‘Contagion’ Scientific Adviser Says We Should Have Taken the 2011 Film More Seriously