A year ago we thought it was all over. How could a film and media production company survive a pandemic when life was going behind closed doors and our director/producer was on the shielding list? Many of our clients were in a business-not-as-usual reality so jobs were being cancelled almost daily.
The first thing we did was commit to ride the storm. I reassured the team they would be paid and they would be busy doing something. The second thing was to figure out what that something would be!
It would involve us travelling from our Arundel base across the world and back many times over, usually by Zoom. (take a look)
We had a pre-existing booking for hands-on workshops for Women in Film and Television Mentees to make films on their smartphones. We piloted and converted these into an online virtual experience which helped all participants to learn effectively in situ.
We then supported clients who wanted (needed) to switch to the virtual world so they could carry on doing what they do. For some, that meant support from us to create content on their phones, which we turned into slick videos for them.
Then new, surprising opportunities came our way. The charity Health:Pitch asked us to help them to create The Soprano – an eight-part drama self-filmed by opera singer Francesca Lanza in Turin in Italy, with two UK singers trained to do the same. These were then screened in UK care homes via YouTube in place of a cancelled tour.
We used Zoom to direct the recordings remotely and WhatsApp as a live production communication forum, and our main obstacles were broadband speeds (slow) and storage on all our back ups from Google to iCloud.
More smartphone training workshops later led to a partnership with Icelandic film director Anna Hildur and Reykjavik Music City to train 24 Icelandic musicians to make their own content. We are now regular (virtual) visitors to Iceland.
We’ve always tried to support our local community. So, we answered a call by the Arundel Festival of the Arts to keep their event alive in some way. Masks and social distancing in place, we created 74 films for social media and 11 live-streamed shows over 10 days that widened the audience for the festival to the whole world.
Being in lockdown did not help us achieve our aim of finishing a documentary about the wonderful artist Ann Sutton who was also shielding, but we have finally started the edit and captured some of her interactions with neighbours from the window.
For the aptly named mental health and wellbeing organisation This Can Happen we recorded content online and then edited it with enhanced graphics to help stage their virtual awards and conference events.
Keeping events alive then extended to Pallant House Gallery as we captured their Barnett Freedman exhibition before it came to a close early before the third lockdown. Since then we’ve been working with them on an extended film to complement their Gilbert White, Drawn to Nature exhibition.
As edits continued locally I travelled the world wearing my Whickers hat, attending 15 documentary events from Canada to Bali to Taiwan and Chile to New Zealand. Sometimes I doubled up being in the Northern and Southern hemisphere in one day, whilst popping back to check progress on films in the UK.
Of course, it’s not the same. We’ve missed seeing people. We’ve missed filming in the real world where people can interact.
But we have enjoyed the enormous challenges and the outcomes for so many businesses and organisations who have been able to stay in touch with the people who support them through film.
We are so grateful to all our existing clients for staying with us and for all the new ones who have allowed us to be creative and productive in this difficult year.
We feel stronger and more resilient than we were before. We have learnt a lot and I hope we’ve helped others along the way.
To mark the year we are donating to a new charity set up by our client Robert Emery getmusiciansworking.co.uk to help so many musicians who have not been as fortunate as us.