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Producer of 'The Good Doctor' on how Vancouver's film industry is coping with the impact of COVID
VANCOUVER -- Vancouver's TV and film industry was effectively shut down weeks ago as public health officials urged physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.
It's something the industry has never seen before, says producer Shawn Williamson, who's currently working on "The Good Doctor."
The medical drama follows the challenges and successes of a young doctor with autism.
It's filmed primarily in and around Vancouver. Exterior shots of the hospital may be familiar to locals, as the building is actually Surrey City Hall.
Williamson spoke to CTV Morning Live Thursday from his balcony in Vancouver about the impact of novel coronavirus on that industry.
For him, the extra time at home means he's learning to bake.
Williamson said he's still going into work a few hours a day, and preparations for the next season are going ahead.
He said the writers will be working remotely in Los Angeles as of Monday, and the plan isn't to shoot until early July.
"We are running different scenarios to see how and if we're going to be able to keep that date."
Meanwhile, a number of medical supplies that would have been used as props have been donated to local health services in Vancouver.
Williamson said early in the crisis the production company donated a few palettes of supplies.
"Luckily, we had a huge number of stores, so we sent all kinds of things to (Vancouver General Hospital), Vancouver Coastal Health … Most of what we have to give to our actors and our extras are real," he said.
Williamson was also asked whether the film industry will be able to recover, to which he said, "Oh, absolutely.
"The film industry will bounce back very, very quickly. We laid off on our shows, our affiliated shows, about 1,000 people. They'll be back at work as quickly as they were laid off as soon as we find some mechanism or situation where it's safe to return to work again."
Williamson said he thinks it'll be very challenging to film anything keeping two metres apart, but that there will be systems in place to make sets safer and cleaner.
He said the company's been in touch with all the crew members. The majority are at home, including a handful that have effectively moved to Vancouver.
One of the questions being asked by those back in L.A., New York, or star Freddie Highmore's native U.K. is how they'll return, when they do. And when they get back, they may have to be in quarantine for some time.