One of the things I really love about filmmaking is it’s ‘can do’ attitude. Our field has a culture of making a way where there is no way. So even though we still sometimes send a camera crew to capture video on location with Covid-19 safety protocols in place, we’ve also embraced contactless filmmaking.
What is contactless filmmaking you say? Well, it’s a way of making movies with everyone staying in their own little bubble. Mainly it means that the people on camera are actually filming themselves or others in their household. They might film at home or in a public park. Regardless, they don’t work in the same space with a full camera/audio/lighting/directing crew. Directing and technical assistance happens by phone or video chat. Then they upload their video footage to an online portal. Contactless also means the editor works from home. They download the footage, work with it, and share draft edits with the rest of the team via an online portal too.
Depending on the budget, the online tools used can be sophisticated and streamlined or they might involve us designing a customized setup that takes advantage of several different free or low cost platforms. We make sure that every step of the process has the technical support needed so that the highest quality product can be achieved, even if internet speeds are slow.
What I am loving about this new method is that it aligns with so many of our company values. We’re finding this kind of filmmaking makes for a more intimate kind of collaboration between everyone: on camera talent, clients, and cinematic creatives. It encourages us to bring in even more diversity of voices/perspectives. When folks are using their own equipment, storytelling automatically becomes more accessible to folks of different abilities. This kind of filmmaking has allowed more family members to create media together. And, most wonderfully, the art endures.
A couple of ways we’ve used this technique of contactless filmmaking:
– A Together Pictures director is currently transitioning a garden art show into an online art festival. The artists will film themselves making their own art, using their own cameras and cell phones.
– One of our camera people was hired to film her own family, living life during Covid-19 and using client products, for a major brand. Clips were sent by internet and on a hard drive to the project editor. Feedback from the Director was given by telephone and video chat.
– An editor is currently assembling self-filmed clips from musicians into a fundraising video for a local performance space.
– Another editor just finished a project where dancers all over the US filmed themselves with tablets and cell phones. This project replaced an in person performance at a local non-profit organization and was live-streamed on Facebook instead.
A couple of weeks ago I found myself saying to a friend, “What if the cloud is the silver lining?” In other words, what if the difficult times we are in are creating opportunities for growth? I think contactless filmmaking is one of those silver cloud moments, for sure.