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Corona Catch 22

June 28th 2020

An optimist thinks of a dilemma as a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more undesirable alternatives. A pessimist thinks of it as a Catch 22. The question is, am I a pessimist or an optimist?

As filmmakers on set, we find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place more often than not. Following a protocol gives the word dilemma a new dimension. Being a perfectionist, I found myself torn between 2 thoughts this week; health and safety versus a functional camera department.

As a responsible human being I am committed to following every rule in the covid-19 filmset protocol, though on the other hand, I’m committed to being the very best 1st AC I can possible be. These two unfortunately do not go hand-in-hand. At least in my opinion… and with that statement, the balance has tipped towards pessimism.

This dilemma presented itself to us throughout the last 5 shooting days on the same location in the same house. Imagine a scene with 6 actors and a rule that dictates not more than 6 people allowed on set.

The slate cannot come in, I can’t experience the scene in a present manner – only at a great distance, the sound mixer rigging microphones on set rather than booming, car shots where social distancing seems more important than safety during the drive. I assure you, flying off a flat bed will kill me much faster than Corona.

We have diluted the set to represent a theatre piece with an unbiased lens, rather than an active, living and breathing artistic expression caught through the eye of an influenced lens.

What scares me the most is the looming question of whether or not we are leaning more towards health and safety over art. Don’t get me wrong, I always think of health and safety first, but in this case, heath and safety impedes more than elevates the product.

Filmmaking is a wonderful piece of production wherein many departments come together to create something through collaboration. This is something that I absolutely love about the discipline. Communication and collaboration are the key words in this case. We also have to remember that the waters we are now testing have since been an unchartered territory, thus protocols must be subject to change rather than a rule of law. You can see it as “bending the rules”, but if something doesn’t work than rules can be changed to accommodate for the better of the group, don’t you think? Adapt or die. In my case, adapt we did for the betterment of the film… and health.

I’ve learned that during these times everyone is open for evolution and adapts a can-do attitude. The ideal situation is that I’m back next to my DP… which I am sometimes allowed to do when situation demands it. When possible, we bring in the slate, which means that the 2nd AC is ready behind the door and runs in when sound shouts out “speed”. The covid-19 protocol is work in progress. Just like crews working on a filmset. On that note, I think I’ve answered my opening question, and that pessimism is never the answer during these demanding learning curves.

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