COVID and Film Production – A Year Later.
Alyssa Rodriguez, Content Writer
San Diego International Film Festival
It’s been a full year since the coronavirus came into our lives and turned the film production world upside down.
With the introduction of COVID protocols to film production, many found themselves in a bind. The key question became, to continue production with crew member and location limitations or discontinue production until the virus subsided? None of us expected COVID would go on this long. And now it is the end of February of 2021 and the industry finds itself tangled in the same regulations as 2020.
We’ve all seen the impact on our favorite shows and movies from the large production companies. However, another question was raised by the team here at the San Diego International Film Festival about how the virus has affected our independent Filmmakers? How did they continue to move forward with production during these regulations and who was there to provide funding and a space to show their films?
In an attempt to dig deeper and acquire answers to these questions we reached out to Filmmaker Thomas Morgan. You may recall seeing some of his films in the San Diego International Film Festival the past few years- Waiting for Mamu, Storied Streets, Soufra, or Justice of the Pies.
When asked about his own experience with filming during COVID, Thomas said:
“I was about halfway through a film I had been working on called SCRUM, about The first Black US college rugby coach who builds a new program at a white southern university and finds that success isn’t measured in championships, when the pandemic shut it down.
“At first it was daunting. I couldn’t see how we would ever be able to finish. No one would come in to help with funding — even those who had already committed, and I was nearly out of money. But Filmmakers, especially documentary Filmmakers, have a tight community.”
“When we felt like we could create safe environments we found ways to continue to shoot that didn’t put anyone in harm’s way. I called in a lot of favors and put my kids to work running sound, temporary scores and PA duties. Crews got tired of waiting for things to open up, so doing something as a favor was better than sitting still. It was never quite the same. I did some interviews over Zoom with a camera person but was able to do sound editing in person, we shot much more outside and we tried to figure out how to keep going — it forces you to be more creative,” he added.
In conclusion, Morgan said, “I am wrapping SCRUM this month. It will be remembered by those who worked on it as a film of workarounds and trial and error. But like any documentary film you commit and you put your head down until it’s done. I am thankful that we got this one over the finish line.”
We, like Thomas, recognize the critical importance of community in this industry. When times are rough, we do everything we can to come through for one another. We feel particularly honored to share this year’s San Diego Intl Film Festival experience with all of our local Filmmakers and film lovers.
Film Festivals around the world give voice to these independent Filmmakers. They are passionate about their projects and provide us with global perspectives on every imaginable topic. We take pride in our role of helping artists through this difficult time. By extending our festival to 11 days this coming October, we’re providing an even larger opportunity than before for local and international filmmakers to share their work with the public.
Although we have seen a lull in production, funding and distribution sales for independent films during the time of COVID, we have also seen this industry showing up for one another with the ambition to continue to “share the art of perspective through film.”