Covid-19 has bought big changes in our society. Feelings of disconnection and loss usually bring a fountain of strong opinions and confronting stories. The full impact of Covid-19 on technology, narratives, employment, and mental health has yet to be understood.
But right back in April 2020, the Global Policy Journal gave good advice which still holds true: ‘Optimism is more important today than ever, as is our collective mental health and well-being.’
After our first lockdown in March 2020 and a successful year keeping Aotearoa Covid-free, the industry experienced a lucrative boost. Now, to align with the new traffic light system crew have started to implement the newly updated ScreenSafe guidelines.
This is a mutable landscape. Fortunately, Aotearoa is used to four season in a day, and a change-with-the-weather attitude is part of our industry. Even before the new traffic light system came into force last week, most have readily come to accept a Covid test with the regularity of a morning coffee.
Technical tools have experienced a real push since the start of the pandemic. For instance, live feeds during production, now cover not only angles from the camera, but from around the set. For offshore directors, producers, clients, agencies and the like, this has become common practice.
Physical distancing restrictions haven’t just affected travel. If longer lenses weren’t already the preferred option for cinematographers, practicality may move the creative choices in that direction.
Additionally, Covid is changing some priorities. Framing for online platforms, rather than theatrical releases may come to define the look for this era of film-making.
Dave Garbett NZCS is of a different opinion. With Evil Dead Rise being one of the first productions to recommence during Level 3, new regulations have not interfered with his creative approach. The use of a remote head is a useful tool to overcome the challenge of physical distancing.
While cinematographers are taking up their challenges, intimacy coordinators have a different physical distancing perspective.
Level 3 guidelines did not allow physical touch between actors but the new traffic light system brings more latitude. Jennifer Ward-Lealand, President of Equity NZ and co-author of Intimacy Guidelines for Stage and Screen, has not said goodbye to physical contact onscreen. She says they deal with actors and boundaries all the time, and the restrictions add another layer to the creativity.
Further, she notes that film productions in Aotearoa are probably one of the safer places to work at the moment due to the rigorous safety protocols, such as regular Covid tests, vaccinations, wearing masks and use of safety officers.
Ride with the tide
The changes may appear drastic in the film production landscape but the industry has gone through many forced growth spurts in the past like the introduction of sound or colour, moving from standard definition to HDTV, moving from film to digital, and then on to 4K.
Perhaps our new motto should be: Things take longer than they used to. However, limitations can sometimes see new and unexpected creative, technical, logistical, financing and distribution avenues open up.
Let’s ride with the tide and approach the new year with well-deserved optimism.
~ Originally from Germany, Alyssa Kath is an emerging cinematographer and NZCS member. She is an NZCS committee member but her opinions are her own, not those of NZCS.