Filmmakers thrive on creative interactions with others. A big part of our job is to examine, interpret and articulate the world we live in by collaborating with intimate teams from all kinds of backgrounds and beliefs. As Covid-19 hit and 4 billion people went into lockdown across the globe, everything changed. Film productions ground to a halt, untold numbers of talented creatives lost their jobs, and with them, their purpose. Even more broadly, news of the Covid-19 pandemic has been consistently bad, leaving many of us drained of energy. This is why we, a team of internationally-based film professionals determined to keep the spirit of film making alive, decided to make something that would provide the public with laughter and entertainment during this difficult time.
The result of our efforts is 19 Covid Lane, the ultimate quarantine movie – a non-profit short film produced by professional filmmakers currently out of work on account of the pandemic. Our film crew have credits on Black Panther, Star Wars VII: A Force Awakens, Jumanji, Powers, The Resident and The Walking Dead, and have worked with herculean effort to get this new production across the line. In order to play our part in the struggle, we’ve created a charitable fundraising initiative to ensure our project feeds back to society financially, as well as creatively.
Make no mistake: this was a challenging project. I’d like to explain a little about what we set out to do, outlining our mission statement, our initial intentions and our workaround process. Maybe most importantly, I’d like to introduce you to our international team of lockdown superheroes.
Initially, we intended this movie to be a comic social commentary on life under Covid-19 lockdown. We had three major ambitions: to make a statement about people’s responses to the crisis, particularly the nature of misinformation and how this affects us personally and socially; to show that despite our differences, we are all going through the same thing – and that this can bring us together; and to reach out to fellow filmmakers and demonstrate that, during the pandemic, we were able to safely create a short film project extremely quickly. In short, that obstacles can be overcome with creativity.
Lockdown measures faced us with some obvious problems, but we pooled our creative resources and figured out the best way to get around them. Firstly, we used the Director Ryan Monolopolus’s basement as the shooting location where – conveniently enough – the Production Designer Jacob Palmer lived, too. We shot the film with a bare-bones crew, and everyone involved did multiple roles. Our basement-dwelling Production Designer, for instance, also assisted our hair and make-up superstar Nicole Meyer. Nicole also headed up wardrobe.
We did all casting, rehearsals, production meetings and marketing efforts via Google Hangouts. We needed to get this film produced extremely quickly, while the topic at hand was still culturally relevant – much as we wished it wasn’t. This meant a 3-week sprint, from conception to completion, working around the clock to realise a shared vision. This project was a test for everyone involved.
The local Atlanta community (where the Director lives and where this movie was shot) supported us with gear but everyone else acted remotely – the writers, marketers, sound editors, post-production supervisors – where at all possible. Our team is spread out around the world, with a producer in London, marketing assistant in Los Angeles, one social media executive in Surrey and another in Cape Town! This has truly been an international project, and everyone has worked tirelessly, often throughout the night, to get the production where it is today. More astounding still: everyone on the project has worked for free.
Underpinning this production is Film it 4 Fun, a company that our director and producers founded to bring the film community together and unite us with the art we create. And throughout this process, we didn’t compromise on quality to do just this. We ran this project as you would a feature film: with a composer, VFX team, sound editors and all the other very important technical crew generally required in a film production working in creatively adapted ways. Our mission is to make high-quality, professional-grade shorts, while at the same time creating a low stakes environment for filmmakers to explore their art and build relationships. Most importantly, our projects are fun. Why shouldn’t they be?