I remember vividly the first discussions in our Tinderflint office about COVID-19. When we first packed up our desks to work from home we imagined it would just be for a couple of weeks, then things would be back to normal. But, of course, here we are almost a year on still working from home and navigating the “new normal”, in an ever changing landscape of guidelines and restrictions.
Let’s be honest – production as we know it changed pretty dramatically in an instant. It had to – in order to still operate safely. Nobody who works as a producer does it because it’s an easy job; it’s full of variety and each project comes with challenges based on its individual intricacies and requirements and finding the solutions to those challenges are what makes the job interesting, and at times, a bit wild. COVID-19 was no ordinary challenge and has certainly made for a crazy year, but thanks to helpful industry guidance emerging and working together with our teams we’ve been able to make some lovely content throughout it.
COVID has made us as producers more creative in our decision making, having to assess briefs, scripts or storyboards with a fresh pair of health and safety eyes. Scenes that previously would have been simple to film needed a bit of extra lateral thought. Take for example a hugging scene at a hospital bed in our latest TV ad for British Heart Foundation, where we quickly realised it would be essential to cast a real life couple who were allowed to come into close contact with each other. In other examples of our work we’ve adapted scripts with our clients to allow for social distancing of actors on camera, framed in a way that it’s not obvious to the viewer but keeps our cast and crew safe. We’ve also gotten increasingly used to getting client approvals via video chat, sending live streams of our camera feeds straight into their homes.
We’ve also had the privilege to work directly alongside the frontline NHS workers with our work with NHS Croydon during the crisis, filming with them to document everything their teams have been going through over the past year. It’s been really eye opening for us to hear their stories and only reinforces further the importance of safety, with our responsibility to make sure we are not contributing to the spread of the virus in our day to day work to reduce any impact on those dealing with the pandemic in our hospitals.
There are parts of the safety protocols that I imagine will live on post COVID, like the need to reduce paper on set to an absolute minimum to avoid transmission. It’s shown us how we don’t need to print reams of paper to be on set and feel prepared anymore. The environment will certainly thank us for that one, which will be much needed after a year with crews having to drive to shoots instead of taking the tube. Our environmental impact will also be reduced should video calling as is predicted also remain a prominent feature of office life, making less journeys and being able to be more efficient with our time as a result.
What has been really amazing to watch is the agility and adaptability of the Tinderflint team over the past year. Instantly moving to a remote working solution from home with the new familiar sounds of “you’re on mute mate” or “sorry, my cats are fighting…” has thankfully been a relatively smooth process for us.
It makes the time on shoots even more precious too when we get to actually see each other’s faces in real life (albeit socially distanced). I’m personally very proud of what our team has been able to achieve and how dedicated and understanding they have all been in the face of such mind boggling circumstances.
The latest news of the road map has given fresh hope of some return to normality, so maybe in the not too distant future we will return to bustling sets with hugs all round to celebrate the job well done and I certainly look forward to that. Until then though, we will don our masks, sanitise our kits and continue with business as usual and look forward to welcoming our friends and colleagues on sets with us soon.