With social distancing and global lockdowns, media production has been deeply affected by the pandemic. Now that many countries are easing their rules for the workplace and leisure how will this affect the film industry? Fortunately the development of new technology is making post covid film production a viable prospect. Virtual production techniques, along with new health and safety guidelines are already being implemented. For example, one of the last post production processes can be done remotely, where actors’ voices can be recorded in one studio and then dubbed over the live action footage. This technique not only ensures social distancing but also cuts down on international travel. Virtual production processes enable global collaboration, where creative teams can work together without sharing the same physical space. Cuaron’s Gravity (2013) was one of the first films to incorporate 80% CGI and more films are becoming VFX led, not necessarily as a direct result of working practices post Covid-19, but rather giving producers another alternative to social distancing methods. Real time game engines have been popular with big production companies and also small independents where live action is replaced with simulation. There are obvious benefits here in regards to social distancing and travel. There were a number of innovative productions created during the lockdown where filming took place through social media accounts or webcams, although there are limitations in this regard, with the proliferation of social media platforms and changes to audience consumer habits, this could also prove to be a viable alternative which protects both production personnel and audiences.
These techniques have not been invented purely as a response to the pandemic. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2019), used computer game technology, Unfriended (2015) was shot using webcams and Gravity (2013) has led the way in VFX led narratives. The future of film production for both blockbusters and small independents is looking bright as this medium constantly tracks and responds to exterior changes.
Of course, it’s not all about technology, there are other indications of how the film industry is recovering from the lockdown. Corona (2020) is the first feature film revolving around the pandemic, shot in one take and one location — inside an elevator. Songbird is in the planning stages and it will be shot in Hollywood focusing on a world two years into the future when localised lockdowns are the norm. So the industry seems to be on the road to recovery through their use of innovation, creativity and perseverance, only time will tell whether audiences will respond positively to this new normal.