In an incredible show of both solidarity and generosity, Netflix has established a coronavirus relief fund that will distribute $100 million to entertainment industry workers who have lost their jobs amid the industry-wide shutdown stemming from the coronavirus.
The streamer’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos made the announcement, which surely came as a relief to many out-of-work laborers. Trade reports have indicated that at least 120,000 people are expected to be affected by the current global pandemic, which has far-reaching consequences beyond Los Angeles.
The crisis has begun to catch up with Hollywood talent agencies as well, with Paradigm reportedly letting go of 100 employees, with more layoffs to follow. WME has also been hit particularly hard given the agency’s investment in live events, including UFC. Likewise, Paradigm makes millions off its flourishing music business, and with touring canceled for the foreseeable future, balance sheets have been affected.
In Netflix’s case, the mega-streamer produces as much original programming as any company out there, so the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on its workforce, who will be the primary beneficiaries of the relief fund. With production suspended, Netflix is expected to acquire finished product produced elsewhere — see, The Lovebirds — that appeals to its global audience of more than 125 million subscribers.
See below for Sarandos’ statement, courtesy of Netflix, who deserve kudos for this forward-thinking idea:
The Covid-19 crisis is devastating for many industries, including the creative community. Almost all television and film production has now ceased globally – leaving hundreds of thousands of crew and cast without jobs. These include electricians, carpenters, drivers, hair and makeup artists and more, many of whom are paid hourly wages and work on a project-to-project basis.
This community has supported Netflix through the good times, and we want to help them through these hard times, especially while governments are still figuring out what economic support they will provide. So we’ve created a $100 million fund to help with hardship in the creative community.
Most of the fund will go towards support for the hardest hit workers on our own productions around the world. We’re in the process of working out exactly what this means, production by production. This is in addition to the two weeks pay we’ve already committed to the crew and cast on productions we were forced to suspend last week.
Beyond helping workers on our own productions, we also want to support the broader film and television industry. So $15 million of the fund will go to third parties and non-profits providing emergency relief to out-of-work crew and cast in the countries where we have a large production base.
In the United States and Canada non-profits already exist to do this work. We will be donating $1 million each to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Covid-19 Disaster Fund, the Motion Picture and Television Fund and the Actors Fund Emergency Assistance in the US, and $1 million between the AFC and Fondation des Artistes. In other regions, including Europe, Latin America and Asia where we have a big production presence, we are working with existing industry organizations to create similar creative community emergency relief efforts. We will announce the details of donations to groups in other countries next week.
What’s happening is unprecedented. We are only as strong as the people we work with and Netflix is fortunate to be able to help those hardest hit in our industry through this challenging time.
-Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer
Now, before I let you go, I wanted to explain my photo choices for this article. I picked the photo of Joe Exotic from Tiger King because that docuseries is absolutely wild and it’s currently available. You do not want to miss this series, because everyone will be talking about it. Maybe not around the ol’ watercooler anymore, but in a few days, you won’t be able to go on social media without reading about it. Trust me. And the memes are going to be fantastic.
As for The Platform, that photo choice was a bit more strategic. Like Tiger King, it is also newly available on Netflix, where foreign language content goes to thrive. It’s a fantastic genre film set in a dystopian future, and it’s basically about an elevator. I want you to picture an elevator and the elevator is full of delicious food. And the elevator starts on the top floor of the building, the penthouse, if you will, and those people have a set amount of time to eat anything they want in that elevator. And then the elevator goes down to the next floor, where people have less food to choose from. And so it goes, until there is no food left. Which means the people on the bottom floor, the basement, so to speak, are almost guaranteed to starve. And the only way to topple this barbaric system is for the elevator to make it to bottom with enough food to feed those in the basement, and return the elevator to the penthouse with a single piece of food on it, to show those who prepare the elevator each morning that they have failed in their mission. I think it’s a movie that is strangely appropriate for our current moment, because they only way we’re going to survive this hell is if we help each other, and realize that we’re all in this together — the people in the penthouse, and the people in the basement.