The New Face Of Movie Production During Covid-19

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27th May 2020

The New Production Normal

In this time of struggle and great divide, one thing can be agreed upon: the entertainment and TV/Film production industry will not be the same while Covid-19 is still active. So, what does the near future hold? Believe me, I want to be back on a set soon, but I also feel the health and safety of everyone must be the top priority.

Near the end of May, 2020, Georgia made public their state guidelines for TV/Film production in the age of Covid-19. This thorough document considers everything from prepackaged craft service, virtual location scouts and the need for more space at locations than ever before.

But for the purposes of this article let’s focus on how actors will be affected. The Georgia guidelines state the following:

  • Actors should keep at least a six feet distance apart unless absolutely necessary. If close contact is required for shooting, each incident must be documented so that possible contacts can be identified if someone were to contract the virus.
  • Using wide angle lenses or other camera techniques to make actors appear closer than they really are is recommended. Consider using a clear barrier between actors to be removed at the last moment.
  • Consider using members of the same household in a scene.

As a screenwriter, one important factor came to mind when I read this. It all starts with the script. Remember movies like Buried, Moon and Gravity? These are entertaining, wide release movies that told a story that did not require any actors coming within six feet of each other. In the case of Buried and Moon, only one human actor was on screen.

I predict that the first few studio productions will also encourage telling stories like this. Taking this first step, will make production during an active pandemic easier and safer. No need for clear barriers, or camera trickery if there is only one actor in the scene.

Creativity can flourish out of limitations and challenges like these. I have and will always believe that. The filmmakers who are most prepared for this new production normal are the ones with indie roots who still embraced small scale production practices. Filmmakers like Steven Soderbergh, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Chris Sparling and Richard Linklater.

The Duplass brothers made the HBO series Room 104, this is a contained anthology series which uses very few characters and in some cases only one character. Richard Linklater made a one of a kind animated movie called A Scanner Darkly. While that movie started by filming actors in physical locations, a story like this could be made without actors needing to be on set at the same time.

That being said, if any production company is looking for screenplays like this, I have a contained thriller that focuses on two characters trapped in one location. It is called Anxiety, I’m glad I have a script like this, one that makes production easier given these new guidelines.

I plan on writing many more screenplays and TV pilots like it. In fact, my first produced feature, Cam-Girl featured one actor alone during a home invasion for most of the narrative.

THE QUICK SELL
In this time of struggle and great divide, one thing can be agreed upon: the entertainment and TV/Film production industry will not be the same while Covid-19 is still active

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