8 reasons film and TV production has a bright future after the pandemic
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! HOXBY’S EXPERT ENTERTAINMENT TEAM SHARE THEIR OPTIMISM ABOUT FILM AND TV PRODUCTION POST COVID-19.
July 13, 2020
Worldwide, the Covid-19 lockdown has had a huge impact on film and TV production. As you watch audience-free Saturday night TV or tune in to a show that looks suspiciously like a Zoom call, you might wonder if pre-pandemic production quality will ever return.
Encouragingly, we’ve seen the film and TV industry respond quickly and enthusiastically. We’re confident of a bright, vibrant future.
Eight promising prospects for film and TV production
1. Engaging social content is the way forward
Here’s a paradox: people want more TV shows and films to entertain them at home, but the ability to produce this content has diminished. So the industry is getting creative and engaging audiences in other types of content.
Hoxby media strategy and planning specialist Stephanie Ressort says: ‘The power of social media in long-tail content consumption has really exploded. A big positive is seeing that ‘DVD extras content experience’ being brought to life. For example, people were watching the first series of Life on Mars and the creative team were tweeting through it. I think discussion with audiences is a lovely thing and I hope it will continue.’
Art director Steve McInerny also makes the point that boundaries between TV and social media have blurred: ‘YouTube shows, such as PE with Joe, are commanding primetime TV-sized audiences. I believe this will continue as lockdowns are lifted around the world; the injection of fresh ideas will be of real benefit.’
2. Technology will find a way
In May, the UK government announced that socially distanced TV and film production could resume under strict guidelines. This has raised practical questions, but our audience insights specialist Leon Neville thinks technology can help innovation: ‘Production teams will adapt well and shoot great quality with what they have available – for instance, green screen or post-production techniques for action and dramas and more remote cameras capturing some of the action, with fewer crew members near the talent at shoot time.’
3. Animation will step up
Before the pandemic, animators tended to work remotely. Now, animation can fill the gaps left by live production. Our multimedia specialist Cat Lewis-Shand says: ‘I believe we will see an influx in animation across the board. We certainly have the technology to create life-like animations and make it look as if people who are miles apart, are in the same space.’
4. Home-grown talent can shine
Local cast and crew may gain from travel and social distancing restrictions. Leon Neville notes: ‘We will see more variety in the talent used with fewer blockbuster actors dominating the screen. Why fly in A-listers with a huge entourage for a movie when you can use upcoming, locally-sourced talent who are just as capable?’
5. Escapism is changing storytelling
Existing TV shows are adapting their formats and learning what audiences respond to and the stories they will want post-pandemic. Stephanie Ressort observes: ‘One thing that has been clear during this period is the need for escapism, and that won't go away as lockdown is relaxed. So many people are facing financial and career anxiety. Many have died or been very ill. Lots of gritty, soul-searching drama about the impact of isolation is the last thing we need.’
6. More refined production can emerge
‘This is a great time for producers to assess their processes and see what really works’, adds Leon Neville. ‘Once health and safety challenges are overcome, shoots could be more streamlined at pre- or post-production. On site, staffing levels and time could be tightened up. Rather than just-in-time-style shoots, longer lead-ups could be more cost-effective, with less travel and fewer takes.’
Hoxby copywriter and journalist Sally Brockway agrees. ‘I think making socially distanced shows is workable. Although it is going to challenge the production crew, I have every confidence in our film and TV industry to come up with solutions. Sometimes restrictions lead to bigger and better ideas.’
7. TV films and shows now reach a wider audience
Many new films are being released directly onto streamed services, instantly making them more accessible. Netflix has reported a 15 million subscriber increase for the second quarter of 2020 and the April-streamed release of Trolls World Tour was a huge financial success.
Stephanie Ressort says it's positive that people have access to more content. ‘I think there is a big opportunity for brave, funny and original content to attract bigger audiences than pre-pandemic.’
8. Production levels will return
BBC director of content Charlotte Moore has said that they are working towards returning to pre-Covid-19 production quality. As much as reactionary, Zoom-style productions fill a gap right now, our actor and voiceover artist Andy Pandini agrees that this is not forever: ‘The aim of the industry will be to return to how things were as soon as possible. Audiences are in ‘adapt’ and ‘forgive’ mode, meaning that lower-quality, unusual productions are acceptable, but I don't think that will continue.’
Hoxby TV and film composer Tim Hook suggests: ‘It will be interesting to see if any of these changes remain and what producers have learned from this experience. I’d expect things to continue as before. In reality, this situation is unlikely to last long enough to shift permanently the way we make TV and film.’
Like the plot of a tantalising TV show, from catastrophe comes innovation. As Louise Okafor, a digital content strategist, says: ‘The creative industry is called that for a reason. If anyone can find a way to make it work, they can.’
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Jen McNulty is a copywriter, content editor and strategist in the Hoxby community.