Hope all of you and loved ones are well and safe.
As we all know the world and life after the Covid19 pandemic might never be the same. The coronavirus has changed our society and the world in ways we might not even be able to yet grasp to their full extent. Even after the lockdown has been lifted, we will all need to adjust to “a new normal”. All industries and walks of life have been and will continue to be impacted; none more than the Film & TV industry. There are many long guidelines drafted and released by the official bodies right now to accommodate the new global situation.
Considering all the above, equally there has never been a better time to stop looking back at the closed doors of the past. The time we have right now under lockdown is a precious commodity that has been given to us by life. Accept the situation as it is now, the old doors might not ever open the same way they used to. Right now, it’s time to swing open a new door, take a chance. Start a new chapter in all of our lives where we focus on progress and opportunities at hand. There are many well qualified voices in our industry who are verifying that the indie filmmakers will have much bigger window of the release and distribution opportunity at the moment. The question is: will you tap into that? You need to ask yourself this question – who would like to become by the end of the lockdown? What will you make and create? Set yourself a high enough goal that will take you through this.
There has never been a better chance to create a window of opportunity for yourself. This particularly challenging period is also very buoyant with endless possibilities. As you probably already know, the film & TV industry has moved predominantly online. There are lot more networking slots and various chances to mingle than ever before. There are live Q&As, events, courses, workshops even film festivals. Do your best to devise a rigorous schedule for yourself and attend the talks, seminars and networking online. It’s all part of your lifelong journey as a filmmaker. And you never know who you will meet whom you might end up making friends with and working with now or in the near future. There are Raindance events online, courses and even a 60 seconds competition. There are Sundance masterclasses for free during the pandemic, BFI, BAFTA and other film organisations are hosting regular talks. How can you benefit from them? What can you learn? Who can you connect with?
Of course, it is understandable that during this time lots of people might have obstacles in the way of enjoying uninterrupted creative work due to family, children, caring, work commitments, or even illness. Some might be struggling to feel creative during a pandemic and may see light at the end of the tunnel. However, do ask yourself if there is time that you are spending scrolling on the phone or reading news that you could be spending dedicating to jotting down ideas. The reality is that at some point the industry will reopen and there will be an influx of demand of low budget screenplays with limited location and cast.
This is a perfect time to start treating your creative career dreams, aspirations and ambitions as a “day job”. A full-time job where finally there is enough time to write and make short films, videos or start a v-log. With the ever-evolving technological progress practically everyone who owns a smartphone is able to make a movie. Anyone who has access to internet can start pouring out content online and build an audience there.
If you have been resting like a bird on a tree branch, waiting to see what happens in the future, understand that this branch has now been cut and it’s time to take massive action on your creative career.
The best way to start treating your creative dreams as a “day job” is to set yourself a rigorous work/ life balance routine. Shift your focus to what you can do instead of what you can’t. Shift into finding what might work instead of thinking it won’t ever work. You make it work, it’s your responsibility. It’s important to point out that in the creative arena the major key to your creative future is you. It starts with daily disciplines and actions. Allocate a fixed time of your day to writing and filmmaking. By now you might have created a good working space for yourself. If not, make sure that even if you are in a tiny room that you organise a dedicated creative working space for yourself. Set yourself solid weekly goals and objectives. There are many courses and tips online on setting those if you are not familiar with life or business planning. Make your aspirations realistic and achievable. How many pages of a script can you write in a day? Can you film a short film? There is plenty you can film in one location, one room just by yourself. Let your imagination run amok. There are also many actors who are very keen to be cast right now. Could you perhaps cast any of them? Many actors have self-taping camera / background equipment so why not tap into that? Inform all your loved ones and family that this is your plan, this is going to be your working schedule. This is your new lockdown “day job”. Make sure once you achieve your weekly goals to have a small celebration. Pat yourself on the back. By doing what you love you are already going to inspire those around you who might be focusing on fears and worries right now. Surround yourself by inspiring quotes from A-list filmmakers and actors. Do or read anything that you think will motivate you to keep on going. As creatives, what we can do best is create. Therefore write, make shorts and release them via online platforms, share them with friends and family.
The more you start treating your creative work as a day job the more you will be prepared for opportunities to come your way. The work in the Film & TV is very rigorous with a great sense of urgency and many tight deadlines to meet. See if you can start setting yourself some vital deadlines and meet them. Your own self-discipline will prepare you to meet your future chance to breakthrough into the industry. It’s very important to stick to regularity. Keep as much as you can to the same time you go to bed, get up, shower, eat, exercise and work. This is going to enhance your overall productivity and performance. Wear clothes you would wear if you were working in film & TV. I am sure you are all aware that dress code is casual. Make sure you are comfortable; however, don’t spend days in pyjamas and loungewear, that’s not going to necessarily motivate you. What would you wear to feel good during a long day on a film set?
Before you know it, the lockdown will be gradually released and you will be looking back reflecting on whether you have used this period to move forward or to just “spend” time on things that have not contributed to your progress and advancement. What outcome do you want it to be? Eliminate as many distractions as you can. See if you can schedule time for social media and news reading in a measured way. Have a social media strategy. How much time do you want to spend online? Reading and reloading breaking news at this time can be a major time devouring activity that can rob you of the creative work focus if not managed efficiently. How much time are you prepared to sacrifice to news and social media scrolls? Instead of the regular news, sign up (if you have not already) to Screen International, Deadline, Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Read about what is happening in the industry and limit the time on this too.
Drink plenty of fluids, especially coffee during your creative time as this is what our industry survives on! Well that’s mainly due to coffee lovers. If you are one of those and miss your favourite coffee chain, maybe purchase their coffee online. Your favourite café in your creative space. Drink plenty of water, especially if the weather stays hot. Don’t forget to keep up a good sense of humour during this time. Find a joke or two each day to cheer you and others up. And last but not least read screenplays and watch movies and TV in a measured way. It’s part of your “day job” too and what a great perk it is.
At Caesar Pictures my husband Nick and I have been working together for a very long time so we do have the advantage of routine and systems developed over time. We have just started on a US TV show when the all Productions started to shut down on 13th of March 2020. That’s when we knew we had to set out and follow a strong lockdown work/ life balance routine for ourselves. It is helping us to enhance and keep up with our productive and effectiveness during this time. So far we have made and realised on our Caesar Pictures You Tube channel a couple of lockdown short films and v-logs. We are making a short and/ or filming a v-log a week now so stay tuned for lot more to come in due course. We are also both rewriting our feature film screenplays because we were able to secure excellent notes from top level industry organisations and individuals during this time. Our first lockdown short film has been accepted to film festivals and competitions and even featured on the Production Guild of UK & F&I Associates newsletters. We are also talking to a distributor at the moment.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide to win and take as much action as you can with as much persistence you can muster. Good luck in your lockdown endeavours.