CUT! MIND YOUR SOCIAL DISTANCE WHILE KISSING: How COVID-19 Affected the Film Industry
by İdil ÇAKMUT
Since its abrupt appearance at the end of 2019, COVID-19 has changed a lot in our lives. Every sector, from education to tourism, had to adopt a “new normal,” in which they can function under pandemic conditions in some way. Masks inside shopping malls, PCR tests before flights, social-distanced seats in classrooms… Well, all good! But, what about the film industry? Are we going to watch people fall in love from a 2-meter-distance with their masks on? This solution sounds a little soul-sucking, so let’s see what filmmakers and screenwriters have in store for us in this brand new environment.
For sure, a healthy working environment is the number one priority on sets. As COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus, effective safety measures have to be taken before filming can begin. Like everywhere else; hand sanitizers, masks, gloves etc. are made available for everyone on sets, but it is of course not sufficient to hinder the spread of the virus in such an intimate working environment. That’s why producers are keeping a close touch with local health authorities at their filming locations and arranging the safety measures accordingly. The crews are being tested regularly and people are working in shifts. Moreover, when it comes to makeup, artists are only allowed to use disposable applicators since the usage of the same makeup products is extremely risky for the crew. (1)
First step completed! Film sets are redesigned for the pandemic conditions. Now, what about screenplays? Here, we are introduced to a couple of different solutions which vary from production to production. Some preferred to alter their story lines and wrote “covid-friendly” scenes that do not even involve a hugging scene. Some preferred to delay their shootings, however this seems to be a temporary solution as pandemic conditions are not likely to disappear in the near future. On the other hand, productions that are impossible to be imagined without an intimate scene between the characters, such as the Outlander, have built testing centers inside their studios in order to constantly test the crew. This was indeed highly expensive, but the producers believed that it was the best way possible to convey the true story without any changes and fit to the audience’s expectations under the pandemic conditions. (2) (3) (4)
Well, overall, these are times that are certainly chaotic. As none of us can beam ourselves up to early 2019 when COVID-19 did not exist, we have to find a new normal way of living that enables us to get education, travel and have fun in a risk-free atmosphere. The film industry was indeed one of the top sectors that were severely affected by the pandemic, however they have started to create and develop new ways and systems to continue working.