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Best practices for production during covid

As with most industries, COVID-19 has drastically changed commercial production. And while change can be scary, accepting it as the new reality and adapting to it are crucial for the success and growth of your business. So, what exactly should you be keeping in mind when deciding which production option is best for you? Don’t worry…we’ve got you covered and can assist with the decision-making process. As always, you need to start with a cost-benefit analysis. While COVID has posed many challenges, these new restrictions don’t have to limit your commercial production. With comprehensive industry guidelines – from screening crew to wardrobe, having medics on set to handling equipment – your shoot budget could increase 10-25%. First and foremost, you need to decide, “Do I need a shoot?” The answer to this question will decide whether a creative refresh or a new creative is right for you. Look at your existing assets – is it possible to breathe new life into an old creative, or stitch together several to make something new? What do you have available in your toolkit – images, B-roll, animations?

Option 1: Creative Refresh

If you are unable to accommodate the additional COVID cost, a creative refresh is your best option. This can be new copy, images, graphics or colours applied to an already existing spot. Another option is an animated spot. Now, we don’t mean a talking shrimp family asking about your business…well, unless you really want that. In reality, we can create an informative and attractive spot that details what you’re offering your audience in a way that is both meaningful and effective. Offering you value for your business in a socially distanced way without breaking the bank. Talk to your agency partner or connect with us; we can help decide if have the right assets on hand for a creative refresh.

Option 2: New Creative

Furthermore, if you are unable to do a creative refresh or need to do a shoot, you will have to budget in order to accommodate for the additional fees needed to cover the costs of increased cleaning, testing, coordination and the other pieces of the puzzle that will make for a safe and effective shoot.

1. Talent After scripting, storyboards and pre-production planning, the next step is selecting talent. Given the nature of the virus, it is important to limit the number of people that individuals interact with. As a result, when deciding on who will be cast, consider real families and existing social groups. Currently, many casting agencies have coordinated such groups, creating casting bubbles. An added bonus to this is that you’re getting talent who are already comfortable working together under these conditions, bringing real relationships to your on-screen ones.

2. Industry Guidelines Prior to and when on set, it is crucial that your city’s industry guidelines are strictly followed. To learn more about Toronto’s guidelines visit Commercial Production Association of Toronto’s website and for Chicago’s visit the Chicago Film Office’s website.

3. Use Streaming Services In addition to reducing the number of unique groups on set through casting bubbles, it is also to reduce the number of people on set even further. To do this, clients and team members can use streaming services such as Qtake and Upvision. As a result, you’re able to watch the production in real time from the comfort of your home office, often with the same resolution of what you would get in a green room.

4. Have a Plan A, Plan B and a Plan C Preparation is key, and with the ever-changing situation of COVID, you can never be too prepared. Consequently, having multiple plans that can be put into place is highly important. This should include having talent stand-ins in the event of a positive test, additional sanitation measures, a coordinator/tech support for all video conferencing, streaming and other platforms, and anything else that may be a problem if not carefully planned for.

5. Communication, Organization… and a Hell of a Lot of Patience Ultimately, what all of this comes down to is communication, organization and patience. The transition to life during a pandemic has not been seamless, but carefully planning and managing expectations can help mitigate the challenges that come with the many changes. Talking honestly and organizing the production of a shoot with both the client and agency are key components to developing a successful campaign. Production of effective commercial spots has and continues to be done, but it is only done through taking the time and due diligence to formulate, evaluate, execute, and re-evaluate. By taking these actions, you and your business can expect to see the same performance-driven content that will bring the right information to the right people, at the right time.

About the author

Anna V Fowles, EVP

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