Adapting To Shoot In A Global Pandemic

  • wonderhatch
  • Mar 25, 2021

Irene is one of our amazing senior film producers at Wonderhatch. Like so many others in our industry, she’s had to adapt to working under the many rules and regulations that have had to be introduced to enable work to continue in both the film and advertising industry. 

Irene has shared her observations on how we’ve had to adapt to shooting in the current pandemic and what new challenges and opportunities it has presented. 

Welcome To The New Normal

What we all believed would end by the summer of  2020, has become the “new normal” in 2021. We have all found ways to adapt to the challenges of Covid 19. We have engaged in frenzied workouts and baking sessions. We have scoured our homes to find new corners to make a new work sanctuary, spending our 9-5 as comfortable and undisturbed as possible. We have all found little tricks that may have made even Darwin proud with our need to adapt and overcome.

Taking life one day at a time, we are all adapting and learning and from a professional standpoint, it has been the same. In this instance, productions that seemed simple at one point, have now become a jigsaw with new risks potentially lurking in every corner, something which I’ll highlight in this article.

Between March and June of last year, we had time to reflect and analyse new ways of working safely, whilst still being able to shoot. The APA (Advertising Producers Association), was very quick to communicate with all its members what we were up against and organised training as COVID supervisors, guiding us into introducing new parameters in our ways of shooting. 

This didn’t only apply to our shoots in terms of logistics, but this also influenced our creative thinking even before deciding where or how to shoot. How can we show people being together without breaking social distancing rules? What stories can we tell with a limited amount of people? How do we cast families to play roles? 

These were just some of the questions that were sparked when we were at the drawing board facing new pitches. Additionally, we also had to keep in mind how we could make this work for our cast and crew safely, whilst delivering our clients a product that can help with their commercial objectives and reach the right audiences. 

The Struggle Has Been Real But Has Made Us Stronger

We had a baptism of fire here in the UK between lockdowns 1 and 2, we were challenged with a  shoot with its creative treatment already approved, budgeted and signed off right before the pandemic hit. This meant adapting a pre-pandemic concept into a safe shooting environment for everyone. Certainly not something we thought we would be doing when we first pitched for the project. 

However, we were able to successfully adapt the shoot, and remain completely COVID safe. Our measures included communicating with everyone about how we were going to shoot, introducing several health checks and systems, as well as having a medic on set checking temperatures and generally looking out for the crew. Doing this helped us learn and evolve for our next shoots to make them as safe as possible, whilst still delivering exciting, creative and inspiring content.

Almost a year in, these conversations and ways of thinking are now, much more organic. With testing systems in place for our shoots, we can analyse risks and determine crew numbers quickly and more efficiently. Similarly, our creative team has a much better understanding of how to make ideas work in the current situation. Ideas that in some ways, wouldn’t have been thought of before, super-charging our brains and forcing us to dig deeper to make our content even better. 

There Is Light At The End Of The Tunnel But We Aren’t Out Of It Yet

What started as a scary challenge has now become a tool for us to evolve and motivate ourselves to produce new content. What is most important is that we keep learning from every shoot, we know how to create safer working environments. Whilst we hope this “new normal” is temporary, we are more than ready and prepared to face it and keep producing. 

Indeed, we can now see some hope on the horizon for a return to more normal working conditions before summer’s end. But, we cannot take this for granted as we have seen before, that bumps in the road can and still may appear out of nowhere. We must continue to adapt and go further from this “new normal”, to keep pushing our ingenuity and creativity further so we are better prepared for future challenges, as well as the ones we face in the present.

In the meantime, just to level with you all on a personal level, as I write this article I am reminded of the irony of talking about adapting to work in these stranger times. Whilst sitting at my desk at 2 in the afternoon still wearing jogging pants and very much comfortable in the home-office vibe! I’m sure I’m not the only one…

I would like to wish all of my fellow industry professionals well during these difficult times and remind everyone reading to continue to stay safe.

Author: Irene Marco

Check Irene out on LinkedIn. 

Irene is director and producer, who’s inaugural film received an award from Mexico’s First Lady. Passionate about all things cinema, she believes film should engage and inspire. She’s one of the hardest working and most personable people we know, managing many of our film projects, and working closely with our crews and editors.