In the 22 years that we’ve been doing in-house video production at Current360, we typically run our productions lean, where each person must wear multiple hats. We like to bring in crews of people who are focused on one aspect of the production and can apply their talent singularly to the task at hand, but the reality of it is that we don’t always have the budget for a large crew.
Having been in a work from home situation for six weeks, with most of our video productions either on hold or cancelled altogether, we’ve had time to plan for post-pandemic video production and, like so many other aspects of the new normal, there’s nothing normal about it. Film Florida has released a comprehensive set of recommendations for post-pandemic production, many of these don’t apply to our more modest productions. So, with that in mind, here’s a list of changes to the way that we plan to shoot video while Covid-19 is still an issue.
Screen beforehand for illness
Everyone will be screened beforehand for contact with the coronavirus. This will become commonplace in all aspects of life, but we’ll have to ask all cast, crew and clients, “Have you tested positive or displayed any symptoms of Covid-19 in the past 14 days? Have you had contact in the last 14 days with anyone who’s tested positive or displayed symptoms of Covid-19?”
Masks and gloves for everyone, except on-screen talent
Everyone on set will have to wear masks and gloves. That includes talent (while they’re not on camera, and maybe sometimes when they are), crew, agency folks, and clients. We’ll have to bring extras, in case someone arrives without one.
Add language to talent release
We’ll have to add a disclaimer to our standard talent release, where the talent acknowledges that they may be inadvertently exposed to the virus despite our taking all reasonable precautions.
Minimal crews, maintain social distancing
We’ll limit the number of people on set, which means that as our crews were lean before, they may have to become even leaner. This makes it hard for our friends in the filmmaking community by asking fewer people to do more, and by shutting some others out. Ultimately, we have to be mindful that we’re exposing our health not just to each other, but to everyone who comes on set, and everyone else that they come into contact with.
Limited account and client representation on set
Limiting the number of people on set means minimizing the presence of account people and client representatives as well, to no more than two each. One or none will be preferable. Although we love our clients, and like to engage with them on set, we need to protect them as well as our talent and crew. With proper steps in pre-production, there should be no surprises on set that will require client intervention or approval.
Hair and makeup will adopt salon rules
Hair and makeup will have to adhere to those same guidelines as barbershops and hair salons. Makeup will be applied using fresh gloves, brushes, and towels for each talent. All combs and brushes will be sanitized using a hospital-grade sanitizer. We’ll allow15 minutes between talent for cleaning and prepping for the next person. Prior to shooting, we’ll need to prep the hair/makeup space with no one entering after we’ve prepped. The space will need to be limited to just the makeup artist and talent, no hanging out as was common before. Also, a larger, more open air space will be needed for makeup, preferably with moving air.
Try to use studio locations, and avoid people’s homes/offices
In order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, we’ll need more space, and space that we know is clean. This will require less shooting on location, and more shooting in studio. This will add cost to the production, particularly if we need to shoot in an office environment, or home setting, because we’ll have to build sets. It will, however, allow us the flexibility of moving walls out of the way in order to get the distance required between camera and talent. If we do shoot on location, we will need to shoot either in Airbnb’s that are not owner-occupied, or venues that have not been occupied for at least 5 days.
The default lens will now have to be a longer lens, that will let us be farther away from actors or subjects, but still be able to frame them tightly.
Plexiglass shield beside camera
We’ll rig up a plexiglass shield beside the camera to add a layer of protection between the camera operator and the talent.
Video village with a big monitor
A video village is a monitor set up away from the main set with a direct video feed, so that clients and crew can stay out of the way and watch what’s being recorded. The video village will now have to accommodate for social distancing as well, so a large monitor will be necessary, providing a screen big enough that people can see while standing six feet apart. Multiple monitors may be required.
Increased set up and clean up time
With a smaller crew, we’ll need more setup time. So productions will need to be streamlined in terms of knowing exactly what we’re there to shoot, and more time will be spent setting up exactly what we want. Also, we’ll need to clean up after ourselves, making sure that the space is as clean as it was when we got there.
Be open to lower quality video
Where possible, we need to be open to clients recording themselves remotely with whatever lights, camera, and microphone they have available. By now, we’re all used to video conferencing, and this may become just another creative tool for us in the production process.
Be open to more motion graphics and animations
In order to minimize time on set, or to eliminate the need to shoot at all, we need to consider using animation and motion graphics to make our point, wherever possible.
Craft services and meals
Our craft services usually consist of a thermos full of coffee, bottled water, bowls of fruit and nuts, and lots of chocolate. Moving forward, if we continue to provide craft services, there will need to be a dedicated craft services person who distributes individually wrapped items and drinks. More likely, each person on site will provide their own craft services. Provided meals will either have to be staggered, or we’ll need to find a space big enough that people can sit six feet apart while we eat. We’ll also need time between lunch and the next setup in order to clean wherever the crew was eating. Alternatively, we take a long lunch and let everyone get their own meal.
Some of these may seem extreme and unnecessary, and will certainly add to the overall cost of video production. But, until there’s reliable and available testing, treatment and vaccine for Covid-19, we will do our part in keeping everyone safe, in preventing the spread of the virus, and in keeping the economy open.