One Year into the COVID-19 Outbreak – How are Productions Holding up?
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January 2020 marked the first spread of a global pandemic of a then unknown disease that later became notorious as COVID-19, or simply the coronavirus. How are television and film productions doing now, a full year after the first outbreak, while many areas are still closed? We look forward to a healthy (pun intended) discussion with your personal views and experiences!

COVID-19 has been the buzzword for the past 365 days now and there still doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. Times are tough, many of us have suffered not just personally but from the whole situation. Remote working is not always an option (especially in our industry).

COVID-19 productionsPhoto by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

How do current productions deal with the current situation? Do they even take place, have they been finally canceled? And when a shoot is in progress, how do you deal with the prescribed hygiene measures? We would like to hear from you, our esteemed readers, what you think and how you are dealing with the situation.

How COVID-19 affects ongoing productions

At the beginning of this discussion, let me share my personal experience of participating in a large production in times of the pandemic: Over the course of a month, I was part of a fairly large production here in Berlin.

COVID-19 productionsBehind the Scenes of The Therapist – Photo Credit: CineD

Ordinarily this production would have taken place in different locations around the world, so choosing Berlin as the sole location for the main shoots was one of many decisions that had to be made due to these crazy times. Travel was simply not an option for a crew of around 80 people.

Establishment of a health concept

Then a (very) strict health concept was drawn up: Each crew member was assigned to one of three risk groups:

  • Talent (in front of the camera)
  • Crew (on set, in close contact with each other and with the talent)
  • Crew (back office, not necessarily on set all the time)

Depending on your specific risk group (I was in the “Crew on Set” group), you must first be tested negative for a maximum of 36 hours before entering the set.

Test, test … and test

As soon as you are in the “pool” of the crew that tested negative, a follow-up PCR test was organized and carried out once a week, which was mandatory for everyone in my risk group. I also had to check in on set every morning and have my body temperature checked to make sure I wasn't showing any early symptoms.

COVID-19 productionsPhoto by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Wearing an FFP2 mask was of course mandatory at all times on set. Not always very convenient, to say the least. The mask kept fogging up the viewfinder while operating the camera, but what can you do?

Organization of the set, the cast and the crew

Depending on the room, the specified set was closed every 2-3 hours, everyone had to leave and the room was properly ventilated by opening the windows (if any). During the entire time, the amount of CO2 and other parameters were measured by a specially assigned crew member.

Transportation was another problem. No more than 2 people were allowed in one car, so no 8-seater, no buses, no nothing. Only camera cars and mostly private transport. Most of the time, I was lucky with the locations, so I could just grab my bike and ride there. But of course that was a big problem for the production managers!

COVID-19 productionsBehind the Scenes of The Therapist – Photo Credit: CineD

All in all, everything went pretty smoothly, thanks to the well thought-out health concept and a very disciplined cast and crew, we were able to produce a fairly “normal” production. But of course not every production can take such measures. Maybe money is tight, the crew is limited, the rooms are too small, the list goes on.

What are your experiences

A lot of productions couldn't happen at all, which creates an additional problem for freelancers, production houses, and broadcasters (read our article on LA productions that are stalling here). But we'd like to know how your last 12 months have gone in terms of jobs and filming. What worked and what didn't? How do you feel about where things are going from here? Will things go back to normal when the pandemonium is over?

COVID-19 productionsBehind the Scenes of The Therapist – Photo Credit: CineD

Have you been hit financially by the crisis? Have you found alternative ways to generate income to deal with the tough times? Have your savings melted away?

Open questions

A lot of questions like this one crop up during these times, and I think our industry is particularly hard hit because working behind the camera (or on a sound cart, the list goes on) requires you to go outside, remote working doesn't happen in im Film business not really, right? You have to get your hands dirty on site, which is not exactly easy in these times.

I really hope that we all as a society will learn to deal with this situation and find a way out sooner rather than later, but one thing seems certain: this virus (and others we must follow) are here to stay So we need to find ways to deal with it, not just in our industry but for everyone.

Perhaps special times like these allow us to think about alternative ways of organizing our lives and work and to think “out of the box”. I would appreciate that anyway.

Share your experience with productions, big or Indian, in the comments below! We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Selected image source: Markus Winkler at Unsplash

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