Venice sees increase in film production amid COVID-19 pandemic

People from all over the world have traveled to Venice, Italy to see the famous city's incredible sites. It is one of the most photographed cities in the world. But as COVID-19 keeps tourists away, one industry is moving in and filling the void left behind. Chris Livesay has the details.

Video Transcript

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- People the world over travel to Venice, Italy, to see the famous city's incredible sights. That's why the rarest sight of all may be a Venice void of tourists. The pandemic has created that unexpected situation. And right now, one industry is making good use of it. Chris Livesay is in Venice to tell us all about it.

CHRIS LIVESAY: Can you believe it? You've got an empty Doge's Palace, and here in St. Mark's square, there's not a tourist in sight. Now, that's a tragedy for the Venetian economy, but if you're making a movie, well, then it's an irresistible opportunity.

- [INAUDIBLE] Ready, and action.

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CHRIS LIVESAY: Matilda De Angelis may be a breakout star, but today, it's this location that's stealing the show. Postcard perfection, Venice has long been a Mecca for movies. From 1950s classics to "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."

- Ah, Venice.

CHRIS LIVESAY: And who could forget James Bond's tricked out Gondola in "Moonraker." Filming here normally means contending with tens of thousands of tourists. But today, cut to COVID, it doesn't take Steven Spielberg to notice the potential.

Check this out. The tourists leave, the filmmakers show up. This is just one of more than 200 films, commercials, and other productions taking place since the start of the pandemic. COVID aside, what to do about flooding? The lagoon city is routinely hit by severe high tides, a massive disruption to movie making. But last year, a new flood prevention system began holding back the sea, and now filmmakers no longer need to panic.

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CHRIS LIVESAY: Now their movies are saving the economy after COVID devoured up to 90% of local revenue, says Simone Venturini, the councilmen who oversees film. Tom Cruise, who just wrapped his latest Mission Impossible here, is among the Hollywood Royalty bringing their to Venetian businesses. Like the luxurious Danieli Hotel, says its director Gianrico Esposito. What would your hotel look like if they weren't shooting anything right now?

GIANRICO ESPOSITO: Probably we, like other [INAUDIBLE], we would be closed completely, because I have to say, the most of the guests that we have in this time are connected to those production.

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CHRIS LIVESAY: Productions, including "Across the River and Into the Trees." Based on the Ernest Hemingway novel set during World War II, it stars Liev Schreiber, and of course, DeAngelis. Today, she's stunned to see Venice so empty. You're Italian. What's Venice normally like?

MATILDA DE ANGELIS: It's, it's crazy. Super, super crowded. It was hard to walk. It's kind of sad, but also nice, and it's hopefully once in a lifetime to see Venice like this. It's, its magic and sad.

CHRIS LIVESAY: With COVID stalling productions in Hollywood, Venice couldn't be more attractive, says producer Rob MacLean.

- Keep rolling, one more time.

ROB MACLEAN: I think it's easier to get something done here right now. They've been very supportive of the filmmaking process and allowed us to work throughout this whole period, which has been great. We've been finding we're living in a bubble here.

CHRIS LIVESAY: A bubble, he says, that conveniently resembles a movie set now more than ever. Another thing that makes it easy to film here, the price tag. The producer of the Hemingway movie told us that the city was so happy to have them here during the pandemic that it let them film at many of these historic locations for free. For "CBS This Morning, Saturday," Chris Livesay, Venice.

- That's exactly what Jeff and I wanted to know.

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- They got to make some money on it.

- Yeah, absolutely.

- To make up for the tourist dollars that they're losing.

- And I told Chris, I said, sign me up for when they open up Italy and let Americans back in. I'm right there.