It was an MTV Video Music Awards performance for the times, i.e., outdoors, pre-recorded and socially distanced.

What You Need To Know

  • Production crews turned Skyline Drive-In into a performance space where artists like Maluma performed

  • Theatrical workers union head says MTV required staff to follow protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus

  • Workers hope show proves that large productions can be done safely

Pop Star Maluma sang to an audience at the Skyline Drive-in in Greenpoint last Thursday, taking the stage days before the actual broadcast at a venue designed for the moment.  His performance comes after the pandemic forced the production team to come up with a plan so that the annual show could go on.

In preparation, there was "tons of equipment and running cable and scissor lifts we used for spotlights,” said Jason Caccavo, IATSE Local No. 4 president.  “You have to make a makeshift studio outdoors."

He and the theatrical stage union crew members that put the stage together ahead of the show had to follow MTV's protocols to protect against the coronavirus.

"Every morning we were given new masks, hand sanitizer, there were wash stations, hand wash stations all over the site,” said Caccavo.

The makeshift cafeteria was set up to keep workers six feet apart during breaks. The 2020 VMAs were supposed to be held at Barclays Center.  Switching gears, producers set up venues in all five boroughs, including the Greenpoint stage right on the waterfront.

"It was good that they were able to keep pushing forward and doing their event while a lot of other people have been cancelling events," said Caccavo.

That has meant less work for theatrical stage workers. Caccavo says morale was high as workers put the set together and broke it down again. He’s hopeful for what it means for future productions.

"We showed that it could be done.  We’re ready to come back to work and I think we can do it safely,” Caccavo said.