Alright, this is a little off of the radar but the LA Times just published a pretty in-depth article about a strange respiratory sickness, dubbed the “Downey flu”, that is affecting crew members who have been working at the California studio. I’ll be the first to say that it is still unclear whether the conditions at Downey Studios are causing the illnesses but it’s an interesting story especially since the studio was built in a former NASA aerospace construction site where work was done for the Apollo crafts.
Most recently the site has been the host to such productions as Spider-Man, Catch Me If You Can and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and many many more. It’s one of the most popular studios in the business.
According to the Times, “Gerald Caton, Downey city manager, vigorously defended the cleanup of the former NASA plant: “There’s probably not a site in America that has been more thoroughly evaluated from an environmental point of view.” But at least 34 workers have filed worker’s comp claims and some have refused to work there which, as the paper notes, is rare in the hardcore community of set crews.
While trying to deflect the blame from any Downey-specific or NASA-related causes, one of the lawyers noted that “a lot of these guys work with fairly toxic materials in their line of work.” Sounds like a broader call to clean up behind-the-scenes to me. I hope all of these guys get their dues, inspire and get well soon.