KFTV gets the thoughts of film, TV and commercial industry experts, including the European Film Academy chairman, producers, location managers and fixers, about the impact of the coronavirus and how they're coping...
In the midst of the outbreak....
Susan E. Walker and Facundo Ruiz at AProductions in Spain (still filming)
We are still producing some projects for some of our clients here in Barcelona. We implement strict sanitary rules and guidelines and we provided a “sanitary kit” for the crew in the studio to avoid any possible chance of infection.
Of course, these are micro shootings that occur indoors in controlled spaces like a studio with only the essential crew members and following all the sanitary measures, so this is not extendable to any kind of production that doesn´t take place in a controlled environment.
And it’s been quite effective. Over the last three weeks we have shot a film commercial and have done a different Ph production this way with very good results.
Only the absolutely necessary crew members and talent remain on set, such as the photographer and models, while even the producers have to work remotely and the clients through a virtual video village.
After trying this effectively we are aiming to implement the same workflow for our clients in Madrid and other cities by using trustworthy studio spaces that can implement these sanitary guidelines.
This virus may be a temporary pause for big productions but where there is a will there is a way and deadlines can still be met safely.
We need to be more creative than ever and adapt our productions to the present times.
At the end of the day If we, the industry of creativity, is not creative, who else will be?
We hope this little experience can encourage our partners, clients and other production houses to find the way to overcome this moment of uncertainty for all of us.
Thanks to technology we have the means to produce content without the need for physical interaction. We are used to providing creative solutions to ensure that productions go as smoothly as possible.
During these complicated times there are still many creative ways to continue to produce content.... studio shoots with only key members; podcasts with broadcasters with their own at home recording tools; motion graphics such as animation; and assembling previously filmed material together to create something new, while text overlays can be used to relay an impactful message.
Here at AProductions we are taking all of the necessary precautions to remain safe, our producers are in front of their computers waiting to use this time wisely and bid on future productions as well as help use all of our tools to jump into the pre-production process.
For the last two weeks we have been safely filming in studios where only the essential crew and talent are present while we producers work remotely along with the agency and client through a virtual video village.
We are still working and are always available to help with future bids and any production needs you may have. Under the current circumstances, we can help organize studio shoots with the necessary sanitary precautions that can help meet your deadlines needs.
Angie Fernandez, Executive Producer and Team Leader at production company Happy Monster, Mexico
Here in Mexico, unfortunately we are in phase 2 which means: staying at home and not going out unless it’s extremely vital. So what we did at Happy Monster was set up remote post production rooms with each team member. So we are doing video with stock footage, motion graphics, audio, podcasts (which is a beautiful trend happening). The majority of our productions are on standby until we get clear to go outside. And actually as of right now. we are remotely “shooting” a TV show using a variety of softwares and making it work as we can. Extreme circumstances bring out different opportunities. We are continuing to move, and there has to be effective collaboration from all ends: client, talent, announcers, post production team, etcetera. I can say: today, it looks promising.
Michael Moffett, Managing Director, Production Service Network
PSN Thailand connected to Skype using an iPad for scenes of The 5th Wave feature film. Director Ferras Fayyad used What'sApp to direct our PSN UK team during London scenes for his 2020 Oscar-nominated documentary, The Cave.
Our UK team also employed WhatsApp to connect Good People director, Ali Ali, as well as Leo Burnett Dubai, for the filming of scenes last year in this McDonald’s commercial. Ali worked virtually with trusted DoP, Mark Bliss, to execute filming in the UK and Mexico. Those scenes established a look and style that met with client and agency approval while serving as a model for vignettes filmed in other countries without the director on set.
PSN China stepped up the game earlier this month to address client concerns about latency. For a commercial shoot in New Zealand taking place amidst the pandemic lockdown, the team built a private video-grade wireless network allowing agency and client in China to synchronize and stream live HD video on their devices.
PSN China live-feed from New Zealand to agency and client in China
The technology is less of a hurdle than the industry-wide mindset toward adopting it. QTAKE Monitor 2 and QTAKE Server bring browsing, playback and collaborative metadata editing to any number of iOS devices anywhere in the world using a cloud-based server. An HD camera with pan, tilt and zoom can also be robotically mobile on set.
Einar Sveinn Þórðarson, Pegasus Pictures (production services), Iceland
I believe there will be some big changes in two or three months time. I hope the numbers of those affected will have reduced by then, so we can all continue.
We’ve lost a couple of projects already, and we’re prepping a big one for June from the US. It would be devastating not to get it. We are in constant contact with the producers. Another project we were supposed to be working on in April has been put on hold, possibly for a year. But who knows if we’ll still be around in a year, as a company. Every month is difficult for companies. We don’t have any income, so for a company like ours how long can we sustain this?
I spoke to a big company in LA. They said they’re doing bidding and conference calling and planning the projects, but it’s kind of futile because no one knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. I suppose it’s occupational therapy.
Anonymous UK producer and director
It’s all panic out there, like the end of the world. Fortunately, I’m able to continue working on an animation for a US company, which I’m overseeing from a laptop. But in terms of shooting productions it’s pretty much all gone. It’s quick-sanded rapidly.
Europe is shut down. I was supposed to be directing a big project, but that’s been put on hold, as has everything.
I know of one ongoing series that’s still shooting. The execs are insisting on continuing with filming. But an AD friend of mine working on it said: “we’re all going to get ill”. The series producer responded: “Well you can leave if you want, there’s so much experienced crew out there at the moment, we can take our pick.” That is shocking. She’d been on the show for a while as well. If that’s the response to someone being considerate, especially after recent announcements, then these are worrying times.
Mike Downey, European Film Academy chairman
The fear of the coronavirus outbreak keeps wreaking havoc across the world, and the European film industry is certainly no stranger to its repercussions. After the alarm was first raised in other sectors, it is now the film industry's turn to suffer cancellations, postponements and reorganisations due to the measures being adopted by various European governments. As the number of infections escalates quickly all across the continent and the authorities attempt to stop it from growing any bigger, film bodies in charge of organising film festivals, markets and other events are being forced to modify them and adapt them to the current situation. Any productions which are going to risk spreading the virus further must be stopped. This is far bigger than the film industry. The global world order is under threat and there needs to be action commensurate with the size of the problem.
With regards to the coronavirus, yes, we have been affected by the situation but we're also offering a solution to it. As we previously have arranged video streaming solutions for clients who are not able to fly over a director, producer or crew this is something we are highlighting even more now. Meaning – we have the possibility to provide full quality monitoring (with low streaming latency) so that a director / producer can be present and control the shoot even if they are not present in person. This way, if one wishes to shoot in Sweden it is still possible with the help of our local team consisting of both talented crew and the necessary technical support needed during corona times.
This was actually something one of our most recent clients chose to do when the director couldn't fly over. It was a drama series where one of the actors did audio recording in a studio in Sweden – the director couldn't be present so they needed remote help.
Another example of remote working was this video: http://swixerfilm.se/microsoft-project-scorpio/ where we produced one of the interviews via remote directing. The director was in LA and the rest of us (Swedish crew + talent) in a studio in Stockholm. It was a few years ago but still an interesting example of the fact that one can actually produce things with the help of reliable local crew and quality streaming equipment!
Tom Howard, location manager (The Secret Garden, Misbehaviour)
I have heard on the grapevine one or two commercials not now being made over here but equally a UK commercial due to film overseas stayed back here in the UK to complete their job.
In regards to all the projects I know that are going on business as usual. But, I can see a dark cloud on the horizon, perhaps by the end of the month then I can see perhaps international projects - like a Jack Ryan style series, either not making it or making it somewhere contained like back in the USA or within the boarders of one country.
We are a very international industry with actors jetting backwards and forwards from different jobs and if this virus epidemic was to put constraints on this then I can see a lot of our acting talent staying near to home. But equally content needs to be made and schedules filled.
Iain Smith, producer (Warner Bros/Netflix series Sandman and Arctic 30)
No one knows what’s going to happen with the virus. The danger is that crews fall ill and want to self-isolate, which they’re entitled to. But we could find ourselves with no one to make films. So, we need to try and build contingency planning the best we can.
As producers we try to maintain a duty of care, to make sure anything that can be done will be done by the company.
It will cause problems for things that require crowds. That’s going to be more of an issue than ever.
It’s very much about if your crew are willing to work in the circumstances, then you’re fine. But if people say they don’t feel safe, I’m not sure what we’ll do.
We move forward with determination.
Anna Katchko, film producer and chief advisor to Kazakh Cinema
in the moment due to the current circumstances there are no shoots happening in Kazakhstan. Some were planned for spring, but now have been postponed until Summer/Autumn. However, there is no Coronavirus in Kazakhstan as of now.
More to come....