< Back to news

Life in the time of Corona

Posted on: June 30th, 2020

Since lockdown the Big Wave team switched to working remotely with us all working from home. By chance, the majority of our shows were in pre-production, and post production so when we got the call from one of our broadcasters to cease all production, and bring our crews home, we came off relatively lightly. A lot of our colleagues had a much tougher time with crews to bring home from across the world.

So how has working remotely been for us so far? Well, largely ok. We all remote access our server via a program called Foldr. I miss being able to just instantly pick up and muse on an idea or approach. But this has been largely replaced by skype calls for instant catch ups. And video calls that we once never did, are now the norm for us all. We also have staff zoom meetings three times a week to share how everyone is doing and what we are getting up to. We’ve even had Friday Big Wave zoom night drinks at 5!

Production going forwards is going to be interesting. We have one natural history project in the UK which has continued to film throughout the lockdown. For the rest of our filming around the world, we are waiting for countries to open up, and contemplating new ways of working. Do our directors have a remote presence on location, and work with a location director? We have already remote directed one shoot which largely worked well but it was a very contained office shoot.  How well will this approach work for our more rough and ready location shoots?  Are we going to be hiring someone to facetime the action as we shoot so we can direct from afar? And how well will it work? We are all in uncharted territory. Many of the countries we need to film in are still in lockdown and covid levels are still too high to risk our staff travelling.  Others are requiring all crew to go into a 2 week quarantine prior to filming which is a big hit for our budgets. There is no doubt that overseas filming, in whatever form it takes in the future, will be limited and different for the next 3-6 months.

Post production has also been interesting. Edit suites from the office went to home edits,  and we have been viewing cuts remotely.  It’s not as good as being in the same room, but it has largely worked.  One of our films is currently in post in Bristol. Grades now happen across two rooms so as not to be in the same room as each other. And for the first time we are reviewing our sound mix remotely. Narration artists are self-recording from their own homes. Times are certainly a changing.

So where does the industry go from here?  Well, one thing for sure is anyone working in the TV sector has always had to be nimble and adapt. We’ve had commission decisions delay to December,  but others have signed during the lockdown that we didn’t expect. We attended our first virtual film festival, Sunnyside. This saw our head of development, Emma Ross doing her first virtual pitch with a 7 minute recorded presentation and promo, which was quite an experience. We then had virtual one to ones with commissioning editors. Ironically i would say these meetings actually worked very well as there were no other festival distractions. Much to our disappointment,  drinks at La Rochelle were not to be this year. Vanessa Tuson, our head of production, Emma and I had been greatly looking forward to Big Wave ‘girls away’ few days!  Hopefully, 2021 will be different.

Hand gels, face masks and 2m marks now mark our office floor and a new Covid risk assessment by our Production Assistant Rhiannon Burton is slowly starting to see us return to the office. We always had some remote working, and i suspect this will continue post lockdown.

Big Wave is slowly adapting to our new world of ‘life in the time of corona’. I hope you are all staying safe and well.

Sarah Cunliffe. June 2020.