Precautionary Producing: How to Shoot a Commercial During a Pandemic
Content by Amanda Paul
Research shows it takes about two months, or 66 days if we want to be exact, for a new behavior to become a habit.
Four months into working remotely, and we’ve doubled that time. The things that once seemed so abnormal and cumbersome (I’m looking at you, video conference calls and dining room table/desk) are now almost second nature to us.
While there have undoubtedly been challenges, it’s been amazing to see the resilience, adaptability, and efficiency of our team. At the heart of that success lies two distinct emotional concepts: the shared pursuit of excellence and the feeling of security that comes from working safely from your dining room table amidst a global pandemic.
As we watch the world begin to turn back on, it’s obvious that the new status quo is not sustainable for all parts of our business. And that’s especially true for new work that needs to be produced. You know. The kind that means we leave the safety of home, congregate with a bunch of other people, and collaborate real-time in a physical space.
Studies show that human beings do our best work when we are healthy and feel secure and safe in our surroundings (a concept known as psychological safety that Dr. Anthony C. Hood prophetically spoke to the agency about back in January). That understanding is what prompted us to put together a policy addressing safety precautions for live-action production. We had the opportunity to put to practice this policy on a recent production for Valvoline Instant Oil Change.
During pre-production, all meetings were conducted virtually, while production books—which are typically printed and handed out on set—were delivered digitally. When the shoot rolled around, we cranked it up to 11.
Producers on set worked with vendors to ensure equipment was properly sanitized before arrival. As crew and talent showed up, their temperature was taken to ensure it was within normal range. We supplied the necessary PPE to all personnel on site, including masks, which were provided by the production company along with hand sanitizer and reminders throughout the day to wash hands frequently and follow best hygiene practices. Catering and craft services were provided in pre-packaged and prepared/boxed meals. Precautions were taken in the way vanities were handled and where they were housed. And all throughout the production, we limited the number of talent on set at a given time.
Oddly enough, this commercial was created to show how Valvoline Instant Oil Change was addressing market reentry in the midst of COVID-19. And now that the shoot was a success and the spot is running nationwide (and receiving lots of praise regarding the professionalism on display), we’ve got a happy client.
As with most things these days, production looks a little different, and it will likely present more obstacles down the road. But these last several weeks have shown us that the job can be still be done extremely well in spite of those new challenges. Through our commitment to excellence and our prioritization of the wellbeing of everyone involved, we can keep delivering our best work. That’s not only true in a COVID-19 world, but in everything we do. The more we as individuals think about the psychological safety and the needs of other people, the more we as a team are able to produce better, smarter solutions for our clients.