How a testing system created by the porn industry during the HIV epidemic could help Hollywood resume production in the coronavirus era

California is set reopen on June 12, which means that the studios of Hollywood can call "action" on film and TV production once again.

But Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health, said in a statement: "Just because some businesses are opening doesn't mean your risk for COVID-19 is gone. We all need to continue to keep physical distancing, wash our hands, and wear face coverings in public."

Studio executives will be studying how they can reunite casts and crew in the shadow of the coronavirus, a feat that could prove difficult considering the large team of people involved in making a movie.

A testing system created by the porn industry to protect adult film stars during the HIV epidemic could provide a blueprint for Hollywood, as it figures out how to restart production in the coronavirus era.

The method was established in the 1990s in Los Angeles after a porn actor forged an HIV test and infected several others in the industry.

Mike Stabile, spokesman for the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for the US adult entertainment industry recently told Reuters: "When we first starting talking about COVID, we felt very well prepared because we have a whole history of testing within the industry as well as contact tracing and production shut-downs."

"This is obviously a different type of virus, this is a different type of threat, but we understood in general how it would work and what we'd need to do in order to protect ourselves," he said.

The testing system, which was created by former porn star Sharon Mitchell, is known as Performer Availability Scheduling Services (PASS).

It works like this: adult film stars must be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) every 14 days. The results are entered into a database that is available to producers and directors, who can then see what actors are not sick and available for work.

"All it tells us is a binary. Are you clear to work or are you not clear to work?" Stabile said.

AIDs protests
Marchers on a Gay Pride parade through Manhattan, New York City on June 1983.
Barbara Alper/Getty Images

While the HIV epidemic and coronavirus pandemic differ, Stabile said the adult film industry is open to working with Hollywood to share what they've learned from their testing method.

"The challenges for sports, for Hollywood and the porn industry, are all different but in reality, we each have things we can learn from each other," he said.

The Free Speech Coalition did not respond to requests from Business Insider for comment. 

The global film industry has experienced a near-total cessation of activity

In March, around 120,000 film industry workers had already lost their jobs in Hollywood, according to the Guardian. Around the same time, it was predicted that the global box office could lose $5 billion as a result of the pandemic.

Several big blockbusters, including the next James Bond movie, "No Time to Die," have also been postponed to later dates.

As lockdown restrictions start to relax across the world, directors and producers have been brainstorming how to start filming again.

Ideas include temperature screenings ever 12 hours, substituting extras with CGI, and even quarantining cast and crew for the length of a shoot, Reuters reported.

There has been no announcement yet as to when North American films will resume film and TV production. Europe will lead the way as some countries, including Sweden and Denmark, have already said they will start filming again, Deadline reported.