From the Great British Baking Show to Lifetime to Mission: Impossible, which of these COVID-safe set innovations will stay here?
A vaccine is before us. The prospect that this global nightmare of COVID-19 could soon be over is hard to believe.
For filmmakers, figuring out how to adapt productions has been a confused time. The truth is, no set has been able to eliminate 100% of the risk of getting coronavirus on set. But some serious innovations have helped the film industry big and small get as close as possible.
Will film sets ever go back on track?
Here's a look at the biggest changes in production due to the pandemic.
Play zone defense
In Hollywood, union kits pioneered the search for a system of security. In a joint agreement with DGA, IATSE, SAG-AFTRA and TEAMSTERS / BASIC CRAFTS, an overview was given based on statistical models of how a safe sentence must be executed. One of the main components? Use the zone system.
While everyone loves to see these pics from the set with crew members decked out in PPE, there is one obvious flaw in the system: actors. Obviously, actors can't wear PPE during scenes unless the entire script has been embroiled in a pandemic. (Wonder Woman wears a mask throughout the movie, even when she's alone with her thoughts? Come on.)
Read more about the system in our breakdown here.
Make a production bubble
In order to humanly remove the rest of the world (Zone C) as much as possible, some sets decided instead to create a closed environment for the entirety of their recordings.
This is how Kieran Smith, Creative Director of The Great British Bake Off, Variety, described their pandemic production. “The production has created a self-contained biosphere in a secret hotel, in which 80 producers, actors, crew members and 20 employees of the hotel are housed. Before they even got to the hotel, each Bubble member had to self-isolate for nine days – meaning their family and / or roommates also had to self-isolate or move locations – and perform three COVID tests. Every detail was worked out by production to ensure that every member of the Baking Show bubble had access to private restrooms and could be safely transported to the secret hotel and then to the shooting range. "
Hire COVID-19 Compliance Supervisors
The role of COVID-19 compliance officer and supervisor surely emerged from the Hollywood Union film agreement. Not only would this role help add pandemic safety for the set, but now filmmakers could be trained and paid in this role! It was one of the few cases where a new job emerged from the pandemic in the film industry.
However, you can see how difficult it could be to assert this role on sets with large crews and even larger egos. You don't want to be the CCO on the set of Mission: Impossible right now. Has the CCO been prevented from doing its job? Did you quit and leave Tom Cruise to hold the fort down?
Actually, that would explain a lot.
If in doubt, use plexiglass
While this leads to a hilarious parody between Kate McKinnon and Daniel Craig at SNL, Plexiglass has actually been used for productions that require kisses. They did just that on the set of the Lifetime movie Christmas Ever After, starring Ali Stroker. You can't have a lifetime vacation movie without a kiss or it would be booted from the network.
This is how Amy Winter, Program Director, TheWrap described it. “We all sat down before we even started and said, how is someone going to kiss in these films, given the circumstances? And the biggest, strangest solution I've seen so far is people digging through Plexiglas kiss and which can be removed in the mail, which is absolutely phenomenal. "
Put medics and hygiene above background actors
Speaking of the British Bake Off, on the final episode of this season, a number of medical professionals and health workers appeared on the green lawn to greet the show's winners, as opposed to family, friends and smiling background actors of the past. Not a bad idea!
No departments were manned with equipment such as doctors and sanitary facilities. On set medics are now most likely the people on set responsible for running COVID tests and handling the results. So this is a big deal.
The plumbing department in the past could have meant whoever took out the trash. It now means completely disinfecting the shoots and ensuring the constant supply of hand sanitizer. Filmmaker John Flynn explained it to us on his indie set, saying, "I looked around to find a service that could come in and clean after packing (for three days). This was definitely one of the most expensive items on The COVID Prevention Checklist I also had disinfectant wipes sent in all bathrooms, and with departments that touched objects touched by more than one person. This was to ensure that every surface was as clean as possible at all times. "
Or you could always get some of these COVID-killing robots.
Remote Video Village
You no longer have to cuddle around a monitor while everyone is looking over your shoulder. This innovation is likely to remain. Production at places like L.A. Castle Studios would now have a spacious room with a live feed from the set for all the relevant eyeballs to watch.
Better still, this live feed could be projected anywhere with directors and crews being out of the country. Read more about this type of innovation here.
Goodbye, huge set construction teams hammering for weeks and hello $ 35 environments from the Unreal Engine marketplace.
Check out how they're used at L.A. Castle Studios to be confident this may indeed be an innovation we'll never return from. While art departments are crazy talented and no one wants that department shut down, these virtual environments offer many production benefits that sets are hard to let go of, even after COVID.
Actions involving characters 6 feet apart masked
Okay, that's mostly a joke. But some indie sets have fun with it!
As a reference, this came from Ani Simon-Kennedy's Days of Gray well before COVID. But it offers the most beautiful PPE I've ever seen!
Recognition: Days of horror
No more theater means different framing, sound mixing
In addition to the massive outcry from film icons, this year even huge Hollywood blockbusters went straight to streaming.
And since all film festivals are virtual, the only experience an indie filmmaker needs to have his film on the big screen is gone. (With a few exceptions in 2020.)
The result? Many filmmakers are changing the way the entire film is composed with the streaming in mind, giving up the theatrical sound mix altogether. And in turn, filmmakers are completely changing the way they bring films into the festival circle.
Did you shoot anything during COVID-19? How did you stay safe? Let us know in the comments.