After about two weeks of shooting, Netflix’s acclaimed teen sci-fi horror series Stranger Things saw production on the fourth season grind to halt as Hollywood was forced to press the pause button amidst concerns of the global coronavirus outbreak, and executive producer/director Shawn Levy has opened up about the difficult decision to halt work.
“I was having phone calls with Netflix while directing takes and blocking scenes,” Levy said. “We shared the news with our cast and crew that we would be pausing production out of an abundance of caution. There were no sick crew members, no one was exhibiting symptoms, but it seemed like the right thing to do.”
Levy described having to break the news to the crew as “bittersweet” and like “bursting everyone’s bubble” as production seemed to have been on a roll, with concerns of the two-week delay being asked immediately by crew members, notably one veteran member asking how they will be supported financially during the time. Levy revealed that Netflix is working with the crew members and is set to pay them for two 40-hour work weeks in the meantime.
“When you’re shooting, you create this micro society, this community,” Levy said. “You’re aware of the world beyond, but in all of my years directing and producing, I’m hard pressed to come up with any comparisons for this truly global situation. He made the important point that it isn’t always policy, it isn’t always the norm in this industry. I’m just happy that Netflix wants to do right by the health and well being of the people who make this show.”
The halt on production came 10 days after the streaming service release a video of the cast in their table read for season 4 and a month after the teaser trailer premiered showing that fan-favorite father figure chief of police Jim Hopper (David Harbour) was alive.
In addition to Stranger Things, this week also saw the shutdown of production on One Day at a Time, which was resurrected by Pop TV after a cancellation from Netflix, but unlike the sci-fi series, its shutdown was a much more gradual effort. The series has already shot two episodes before entering a planned hiatus and while production was set to restart on Monday, it’s been delayed by a week, with producers prepared to reassess the situation and create a virtual writers’ room in the meantime.