All Things Creative

Date: 28 April, 2020

We can work it out

Karina Cotter

By Karina Cotter


I love shoot day. The waking up at some ungodly hour to arrive on a set buzzing with crew prepping for the day. The adrenaline of the first shot as we’re huddled together in video village. The hanging around, the moving around, the incessant snacking throughout the day because, thankfully, calories don’t exist at the shoot. And the emotional hugs after the assistant director shouts “that’s a wrap!” – knowing that after overcoming however many obstacles in the preceding weeks or months, what you’ve been working towards is now in the bag.

But like every other aspect of our lives, the shoot day – and film production in general – is set for major changes.

With the abrupt arrival of the pandemic, campaigns have had to be postponed or cancelled, effectively bringing film production to a halt. The constant state of uncertainty has made it near impossible to plan ahead and right now, brands need quick turnarounds.

Advertising invariably reflects the zeitgeist of the time and our present situation is no different. We’re seeing more and more ads filmed from people’s homes, either with phones or portable video cameras delivered by the agency. Getting a film like this right involves coaching the cast via video calls – advising them on camera and phone settings, showing them how to frame shots, and giving them crash courses on film and lighting techniques.

While this kind of real-life content generates genuine connection with viewers, it requires creative ways to stand out from the recent crowd.

There are of course many alternatives to communicating by film, and through challenges new opportunities always arise. But experiencing our world, or some version of it, on screen is exceptionally relatable to us. And one thing that hasn’t changed is the seemingly indispensable role that video content plays in our lives.

As we change how we engage with audiences our production approach will adapt accordingly. Production is all about making the best with the resources that we have and problem solving goes hand in hand with the territory.

As the restrictions on our movement are gradually lifted we’re initially likely to see an increase in shooting locally with small, nimble crews.

One development we may start seeing more of is remote shooting with a virtual video village. The camera feed is streamed directly to a secure link so that client and agency can follow the action from home in the same way we view the monitor on set. At the same time communication is set up on a video conferencing platform so that client and agency can give immediate feedback and approvals to the producer on set.

As with any work environment, film sets may need to enable social distancing. This will likely impact the type of locations we film in and the size of the crew we can work with. Aside from how we shoot, what we shoot may also be restricted. For example, shooting crowd scenes may not be possible for the foreseeable future. This will be led by prevailing government guidelines.

But, change does breed opportunity. The current situation has given us a moment to pause and assess what we’ve been doing and how we can do it better. As an Agency we’re fortunate to be part of a large global family where we can support and exchange expertise with our international colleagues. With innovative thinking we will navigate our way and emerge stronger.

In the meantime I do miss the shoot. While it might seem far away right now, we will be back there eventually. And, when the time is right, those “that’s a wrap” hugs are going to mean so much more.