As part of J. L. Fisher’s ongoing RHC (Refined Hydraulic Control) upgrade program, Wick Hempleman was scheduled to travel to Rome on March 17th and stay for a few weeks, tending to clients in Rome and Milan. On March 10th, his flights were cancelled and the money was refunded. This is when Wick realized how serious the COVID-19 crisis really would be. J. L. Fisher Inc. closed in Los Angeles that same week, as did most of the global film, TV production business and supply chain.
In June, the lockdown eased across Europe. Wick contacted the clients that had been scheduled for visits, including REC, Movie People, D-Vision and especially Panalight. It looked like work would be cautiously restarting in Italy in July. David Jarratt and Carlo Loreti, Panalight Managing Directors, wanted to get their fleet of dollies upgraded and ready to return to work.
“I’ve been doing these RHC upgrades across Europe for some months, so the logistics are pretty dialed in,” said Wick. “I elected to drive down with the tools needed, and ship the upgrade kits. It’s a two-day drive from my base in Cologne to Rome. We’re trying to be as fair as possible to all our clients, old and new, large and small.” The RHC Upgrade provides gentler starts and stops on the lift beam, better acceleration, a precise start point, faster top speed in both directions, and much smoother movement. For more info: 11rhc.com/RHC-control-introduction.pdf
Panalight had prepared a workspace and several dollies for the upgrade. They also had several equipment check-ins and check-outs going on under tents outside. Hygiene requirements in Italy were strictly adhered to: daily temperature checks upon entering the building, social distancing, masks worn at all times, hand sanitizer stations everywhere, and a daily registration form for outside visitors. Nobody was taking any chances.
Panalight started the lockdown on March 9th according to government decree and video conferencing was promoted by management to stay in touch with employees and organize the reopening procedures. The lockdown was extended until May whereupon the Italian government produced the protocol for working environment safety rules (DPCM 11 marzo 2020 e del Protocollo condiviso di regolamentazione delle misure per il contrasto e il contenimento della diffusione del virus Covid-19 negli ambienti di lavoro del 14/03/2020).
Panalight reopened on May 18. It had been a period of uncertainty that still is not over. But Carlo Loreti, David Jarratt and Panalight President Roberto Schettini were relieved that all employees were in good health. “This is really the most important thing,” Carlo Loreti said.
During April and May, ANICA (Associazione Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche Audiovisive e Multimediali) created the guidelines for cinema industry workers. In July, several domestic series and feature films finally restarted production that had been interrupted by the lockdown. At the same time, new domestic TV, feature projects and commercials have started up.
“In most of the continuing and new projects, in all segments, Fisher dollies are an integral part of Panalight’s equipment packages. So, when Wick suggested coming down, we were naturally enthusiastic,” said Carlo Loreti.
(This is a “reprint” from August 2020 FDTimes issue 104.)