banner

Commercial Production in the Time of COVID-19

At RP3, we’ve always believed marketers need to create artful storytelling at the speed of culture. Yet with health and social issues driving rapid cultural change, that’s easier said than done. Health restrictions related to COVID-19 have made keeping your content current and relevant even more difficult. But as those restrictions ease, marketers are now looking to agencies and production companies for guidance on what’s possible from a production standpoint for the rest of 2020.  

The good news is, production is by nature a creative, collaborative and united industry that will always find a way to get the job done. Despite the pandemic, the desire among directors, producers and agencies to adapt, innovate and find safe ways to create content is strong. The production world is churning forward with many campaigns currently in development. In fact, in just the past few weeks our in-house Content Lab has produced work for Giant Food, Children’s National Hospital and NCPA.

So if you have production needs, here are some things to consider:

Safety First

No matter how big or small the project, safety of those on set is the priority. So in addition to following standard social distancing protocols, AICP has released guidelines that help outline safe practices for everyone on set. Currently, productions are mostly remote, with very limited crews of less than 10. Often, talent is even being directed remotely. Filming outside is definitely preferred to inside. Apps that allow for remote viewing and communication, mics for iPhones and other technology make this possible. As locations continue to move out of lockdown and open back up, the production world will too. But the need to stay safe and nimble will be with us for some time.

August Is Ideal

August has always been a great time to film outside due to warm weather and fewer rain days. By then, guidelines may also be relaxed in many areas, allowing for bigger crews. But filming in August this year also allows extended time for post production that may take longer than usual, and protects against a resurgence of the virus in the fall, when more people will likely be heading back to school and work.

Keep It Real, People

Casting remotely is nothing new, but it may be the only way to cast talent for the foreseeable future. There’s pressure to minimize cast size, because each actor takes away a spot for a crew member. It's also much safer to cast people who have already been quarantined together, like real families and couples. Throw in the fact that wardrobe stylists and hair/makeup artists should also be kept to a minimum, and there’s never been a better time to focus on concepts that rely on real people. 

Location, Location, Location

Now is the time to favor ideas that use fewer locations, and get as many shots as possible at each location, because you’ll need to sanitize everything before and after. What’s more, it will take longer to set up and break down each scene, and talent may even have to reset any props they handle. So plan for shoots to require more days and/or longer days compared to usual. And here’s the kicker, say goodbye to plush video villages and lavish craft services. Unless you’re one of the chosen few actors or crew members, you’ll probably be on Zoom.

Allow for More Pre-Pro Time

Even though the need for quick turnaround content has never been higher, the reality is that you must plan carefully to ensure you’re following the latest safety requirements. Of course, there are always ways to avoid shooting new material by using stock footage, creating animated type treatments or relying on other shortcuts. For now, those may be the best way to generate content for your social feeds or internal use, but they still require a talented creative partner to execute well.

As always, our Content Lab is ready and able to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.