Pandemic Production Notes
First and foremost, we hope everyone has been able to stay safe and healthy in 2020.
There is no denying the impact COVID-19 has had on our country. Physiologically, socially, economically, and psychologically the virus affected nearly all Americans in one way or another. Who hasn’t been in the parking lot of the grocery store only to realize they forgot to bring a mask?
The SARS CoV-2 virus’ leveling off during the summer months allowed location production work to resume for the denizens of Take One Productions. We wanted to practice location production in a manner that is safe and still cost–effective for our clients. These two ideas are proving to be at odds with one another, a little more on that later. We also subscribe to the theory that by not sickening or killing your customers you can maintain and even grow your customer base.
TOP benchmarked various entities for “best practices– production during a pandemic model”. In May there were only a few places that had fully formed processes in place. We concluded the state of Georgia had the best, most concise set of guidelines to base our production model upon. We also consulted with our audio supervisor, who does a fair amount of reality television production, to see how the Georgia guidelines worked in practice.
What we have learned is, hurry up with the vaccine already, (was that my outside voice?) working within the guidelines slows our production pace down by about half. TOP has always endeavored to produce high–quality content efficiently using our expertise and economies of scale everywhere possible. This often means doing more with less, our grip, also acts as a gaffer or boom operator, the director/producer is the teleprompter guru. Our DP remains a “bon-bon eating man of leisure” but the rest of the crew busts their butts performing multiple tasks during a shoot. Everyone pitches in and pulls the rope in the same direction, it’s how small productions must roll.
The directive to keep social distance translates to less shared responsibilities, one person performing one or two assigned tasks. Time lost due to hand and equipment sanitization when the two people handle the same equipment adds to significant perceived “downtime”. The whole operation moves at a slower pace with a small crew. Load in and out takes longer. Camera eyepieces fog more frequently when wearing a mask, creating the nuisance of more performance takes. With a larger crew, there is more “standing around on the clock time” when shooting. The attention to detail effects all facets of production, the amount of cleaning and “individualizing of product” our stylist needs to undertake to be compliant is copious and tedious.
Yes, COVID-19 slows production.
Is there any way to use turn the slow pace into an advantage?
I have long been a fan of shooting too much footage. If setting up b-roll sequences, shoot an extra close up, or change the angle of the master shot. Maximize shooting time after the scene is set. Once the performances are locked in, a few extra shots of varying angles will only take a few minutes and not one editor I know has ever complained about “too much coverage”.
Take One is committed to operating safely and efficiently. We always strive to create high–quality images, that will not change. Until there is a vaccine and this pandemic is in our collective rear-view mirror our focus will be on operating as safely as possible also.
Until next time, be well- TOP team