A Union Works To Make TV Production Safe On Maui - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Authors

Tuia’ana Scanlan

Tuia’ana Scanlan, President, IATSE Local 665, represents live event, tradeshow, convention, and film and TV technicians in Hawaii.

Irish Barber

Irish Barber is the business representative of IATSE Local 665.

Christopher Wiecking

Christopher Wiecking is an executive board member of IATSE Local 665.

Tom Curtis

Tom Curtis is the vice president of IATSE Local 665.

We are IATSE Local 665. Our union represents local film and television technicians, live-event specialists, and trade show and convention workers.

You’ve probably seen our work, but you may not have seen us. Working behind-the-scenes, the saying goes, “If you can see a camera pointing at you, you’re in the wrong place.”

Now, however, it’s important for us to speak up.

COVID-19 has devastated businesses all over the state. The entertainment industry has been no exception. How to get back to work safely is everyone’s paramount concern. And we do mean everyone.

The IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees), SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild — American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), Teamsters, and DGA (Directors Guild of America) are working side by side in an effort to navigate the COVID-19 crisis as safely as possible.

“Temptation Island” 2019 crew members Kaipu Seales, Matt Tavares and Ryan Desjarlais building ModTruss stairs for the show. Tuia'ana Scanlan

Epidemiologists, immunologists, and occupational health experts have been consulted in breaking down exactly what procedures we will be abiding by to stay safe. We all want to get back to work, but we absolutely will not risk the health and safety of ourselves, our families, or our communities.

When the producers of “Temptation Island” approached us about shooting on Maui, we worked with them to establish safety protocols that are far and away some of the most stringent requirements for keeping everyone safe, not just our members. The production company is working with MedCor, a private company that provides health navigation and clinical services.

Here are some important things to note:

  • Workers traveling to Maui (from the continental U.S. and from the neighbor islands) are tested for the coronavirus 72 hours prior to travel. They are not allowed to travel unless the test result detects no presence of COVID-19.
  • They are picked up from the airport and taken directly from the hotel. After following physically distant check-in procedures, the worker is taken directly to their hotel room. All housekeeping duties for their room during isolation are the responsibility of that individual worker.
  • For the next five days, that worker remains in isolation. Studies have shown that an infected person’s viral load is greatest on day five. Each worker will be tested again (with a PCR test) — one on day five and another on day six (within 24 hours of each other). Three consecutive PCR test results showing no presence of the virus would effectively mean that the worker is COVID-free.
  • All of that will be done before any work, let alone filming, even starts. Only after the entire crew has been assembled, quarantined, tested, and cleared, will the insulated workspace have been established.
  • The worker would then be allowed to report to work no sooner than day eight and only after three confirmed clean bills of health. Workers are required to wear masks at all times, except when in their rooms or when they are eating.
  • Even technicians who are Maui residents will be staying at the hotel for the duration of the work. For some workers, it will be close to two months that they will be away from their families in an effort to safeguard the community.
  • Technicians on the job will be required to download an app to their phone.
  • To report to work, a worker must be compliant with PPE, produce the QR code from the app for scanning, answer in-app questions related to physical distancing and symptoms and pass an infra-red thermometer scan.

If any of these requirements are not met or do not pass, the worker is sent back to their room for further isolation and evaluation. They’ll receive telemed services from medical staff, several of whom will also be staying on property for the duration of the work to be completed.

We are not just looking after ourselves. These safety procedures will also include the hotel staff. Every day, 5% of the people in the insulated space, production crew and hotel staff alike, will be randomly tested for COVID-19. All testing is being provided by the employer.

Top to bottom, we believe this is one of the most robust and comprehensive COVID-19 safety plans to be implemented, not only in the film/TV world, but in any workplace outside of a clinical/medical facility.

It’s important to note that the production company purchased enough KN95 masks for every worker, every day. We have reached out to Maui residents, ILWU Local 142 leadership (the union that represents the hotel workers), Maui County Council members, county and state film commissioners and state representatives.

The fate of our industry hangs in the balance.

And now we are reaching out to you. We know that we have to get this right the first time.

This specific project provides a unique opportunity to provide some much-needed economic stimulus to the island of Maui and the state of Hawaii, all while employing many residents of Hawaii in the safest way possible.

Furthermore, the fate of our industry hangs in the balance. If a project such as this, which is going above and beyond the call in terms of health and safety plans, cannot succeed, it will negatively impact hundreds, if not thousands, of local families for years to come.

When we talk about the need to diversify our economy, the film industry presents distinct potential for Hawaii. It behooves us as local entertainment workers to leave our film locations better than we found them. We live here, and we care about our home.

We thank Mayor Mike Victorino and the County of Maui for the opportunity to prove that our industry is worthy of the trust they’ve placed in us.

We are all in this together. IATSE Local 665 members have created and donated 1,000 cloth masks to Queen’s Medical Center. Some of us have helped coordinate food drives on Oahu with the Hawaii State AFL-CIO, or have sponsored the creation and donation of face shields and intubation boxes for Hawaii island and Oahu hospitals.

With so many people out of work, Hawaii’s case count exploding, and news stories of tourists breaking quarantine, we fully understand the fears about letting this production happen. It’s a fear that we, at IATSE Local 665, have more than anyone. We will only work on shows if we can be sure that we can do so safely.

We are committed to assuring the safety of every worker and every person that works with our industry. Any work worth being done is worth being done safely and effectively. That is a promise to our family, friends, and everyone with which we share these islands.

Editor’s note: IATSE Local 665 Executive Board Members Charley Kaeo, Irene Kay Carter and Jeffery NihipaliDay co-authored this Community Voice.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

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About the Authors

Tuia’ana Scanlan

Tuia’ana Scanlan, President, IATSE Local 665, represents live event, tradeshow, convention, and film and TV technicians in Hawaii.

Irish Barber

Irish Barber is the business representative of IATSE Local 665.

Christopher Wiecking

Christopher Wiecking is an executive board member of IATSE Local 665.

Tom Curtis

Tom Curtis is the vice president of IATSE Local 665.

Latest Comments (0)

Mahalo Tui and IATSE Local 665 for sharing your plan. 

Lillian · 9 months ago

There is quite a bit wrong with this decision. There has been no real transparency to the people of Maui. We heard about this about two weeks ago on a Friday when the crew was about to fly in from the mainland the following week. Maui is not testing enough of its citizens on a regular basis. Is this to reflect low numbers so this production will proceed? On the south side, there is an active beach community that walks by, sits by, swims by, fishes by, & walk their dogs by the resort where this will be filmed. Would be better in Kaanapali.We are hunkered down & following all of the directives of the CDC, as well as the 14 day quarantine for returning residents. We will now watch strangers come here without doing the same.There is NO foolproof way to safeguard anyone. Please check out "Crew death renews concerns over film set safety amid COVID-19" article dated Sept. 1, 2020, in the LA Times.

Mauiwahine2920 · 9 months ago

Four young couples thrown into a "reality" TV setup where their relationship & commitment to each other are deliberately put to the test, and the producers actively hope for the participants to engage in scandalous/unpredictable behavior. And I say "actively" because everyone knows that chaos & drama is what drives up the ratings. Viewers aren't interested in watching people being polite to one another, singing harmoniously in front of a campfire, & always following the rules.What can go wrong in this scenario?

KalihiValleyHermit · 9 months ago

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