We spoke to our patron, award-winning actor Jamie Robson about how the pandemic is affecting film production and acting. In these difficult times, how will filmmaking and acting develop and what does the future of film production look like?
- Can you tell us a little about what projects you’ve been working on during lockdown?
I had two projects in post-production during the lockdown. Peter Marsden’s The Truth About Dreaming and Ross Wilson’s debut feature Spin State. Both of them are now complete. Pete’s project is joining the festival circuit while Ross’s film is navigating both festivals and distribution. These avenues have been hugely effected by the pandemic, so there’s an uncharted feeling to the landscape. I’m also attached to several projects that are either deep into development or tipping into pre-production. One was delayed a year, one has been shelved for the foreseeable but two are managing to proceed with their schedule regardless.
- How have the production team(s) coped with making or finishing a film?
I’m in regular contact with filmmakers, producers and executives. What I’ve heard and seen is that some larger projects are still struggling to gather momentum, juggling challenges such as the logistics of international cast and crew, numerous foreign locations and legalities, insurance etc. Whilst simultaneously, many smaller projects seem to be organising themselves in such a way as to take advantage of their mobility and flexibility.
- How have things changed with regards to new projects, meetings, auditions etc?
The in-person and physical side of things have stopped for the moment, or certainly reduced drastically. Auditions have increasingly become self-tapes and meetings are now video-calls. I do miss the face to face stuff but again, the new ways bring their own advantages.
- How will the acting profession change over the coming year?
Hopefully a vaccine solves all of our problems. However, until then, it’s going to be a fairly clinical affair with regards to regular tests and checks, distancing protocols and general vigilance. I foresee less people on set, with only essential persons present. I hope though, that if tests get better and quicker, there’s a setup where everyone arrives in the morning, we can all be tested, and those who pass are localised on set for that day, free to mingle as we would have done prior to the pandemic. Of course, anyone who tests positive is sent home to quarantine, but those who are clear can relax and work that day as per usual. You’d just repeat this process every morning of the shoot.
- What advantages are there (if any) and what new opportunities might exist?
I think there’ll be a renaissance in lower budget, independent filmmaking because of its ability to adapt and move more freely. The huge weight of a cumbersome blockbuster might struggle whereas a smaller production can more easily change locations, reschedule and adapt to the situations its presented with day to day. Personally, I’m quite excited by this potential as it might breathe life back into a way of filmmaking (and television) that was slowly losing momentum and support.
- How do you think film and television production will change and what can actors do to prepare themselves and meet the challenges?
In my opinion, film and television are like milk and bread, everyone, everywhere consumes it. Probably 90% of the planet goes home in the evening and watches film or television in some capacity. So the demand not only remains but grows as the need for fresh content increases due to a rise in viewer consumption. So, it’s not the end, instead it poses an exciting future. As we learn to live with these new challenges, a new normality will manifest and I think we’ll all just get on with it. Any advice I can offer to other actors would be just what I gave myself – get your life in order during the downtime and develop patience (I can hear my agent laughing) because otherwise you’ll go crazy. The journey has become an odyssey but there’s still a destination in sight.