How to shoot in lockdown 2.0

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In May we looked at how the first relaxation of pandemic restrictions affected brand film and video production. With England joining the rest of the UK in tighter restrictions from 5th November, it’s time to review how to shoot in lockdown 2.0.

The good news is that the additional impact on brands and producers is limited. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed on Twitter:

The changes mean people should WFH where possible

But where this is not possible, travel to a place of work will be permitted – e.g. this includes (but not exhaustive) elite sport played behind closed doors, film & tv production, telecoms workers

Film production has never been prohibited by any UK government during the pandemic, even when they were at their tightest in March, April and May. But the changes from 5th November do affect how you shoot.

  • Production is work that cannot be done at home, so it is permitted to continue if remote filming will not work for your script.
  • Shoots can take place in workplaces or people’s homes, as long as Hands/Face/Space procedures are followed.
  • Where possible you must continue to work from home. But if you cannot effectively carry out any stage of production apart from the shoot – say, brainstorming a script or audio/graphics in post – it is legitimate to meet indoors in Covid-safe conditions.
  • While restaurants, pubs and bars must close, they can deliver and provide takeaways – so you can still feed the crew.
  • Hotels can accept bookings for work trips, so your crew can overnight.
  • To state the obvious, anyone who has recently tested positive for Covid-19 or displaying any symptoms must self-isolate.

In Scotland, restrictions state that work carried out in people’s homes can continue, as long as the Business and Physical Distancing Guidance is followed. In Wales, it is a legal requirement to ensure that everything reasonable is done to maintain a 2 metre distance between people while they are working, including outdoor locations. Northern Ireland allows up to 15 people to meet indoors, with hygiene measures. In all cases, you must carry out a risk assessment and check all restrictions in the relevant nation when planning your shoot.

This UK Government explainer even features the studio it was shot in, proving it is legitimate to shoot in lockdown.

It is striking that these restrictions have more flexibility than the absolute lockdown we experienced in the spring. Equally, brand film audiences are becoming weary of endless video calls. Difficult trading and real hardship for many means that some messages will be unpalatable. In these circumstances, more creative and engaging video content is a must for businesses who want to reassure and motivate colleagues and customers.

While recognising the grave threat to public health, this could create the conditions for producers to make new styles of film that live in the memory for all the right reasons. Moving Image data suggests that less high quality brand film has been produced since April, creating a rare opportunity for authentic video content to cut through and seize audience engagement.

Time to get that Covid-safe shoot in the calendar.


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