01 — Reminiscing
Let’s take a trip back in time to when ‘COVID’ was a made-up word you tried to get away with when playing your grandmother in Scrabble. “It’s a type of internet thing, Grandma, don’t worry about it.” Let’s take that time machine to literally any Barbershop film shoot before early 2020. How did it look? And perhaps more importantly, how did it feel?
In front of the camera, you’ll likely see a few talented actors exercising their craft with utmost precision. Behind the camera could be a hive of anywhere from four to forty crew members, clients, producers, and catering professionals, running around, trying to catch lightning in a bottle. We were carpooling to sets (minimal footprint is important to us), we were cramming in lunchrooms and lining up in front of food trucks, we were sharing muffins and bagels when one’s appetite couldn’t quite conquer the whole thing, we were congregating around a monitor to keep a keen eye on the details, we were giving each other hugs after an excellent take, after a good joke, after a lame joke.
We were a big family, welcoming anyone on set with warmth and love. We were a place where the excellence in front of the camera was fuelling the action behind, and where the camaraderie behind the camera was fuelling the talent in front.
02 — Adapting to a New Normal
Let’s jump back out of that time machine. Bummer, right? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Things may look a little differently now on a Barbershop Films shoot, but in full disclosure, they don’t feel all that different.
“The way we’ve run sets, both then and now, camaraderie is a big part of it. It’s one of the reasons we started this company – we saw a lot of disconnect between departments, and that attitude of ‘that’s not my job’, or people feeling like they didn’t have a voice on set. That’s something none of us ever wanted to see on our sets,” said Adam Kitter, Head of Production at Barbershop Films.
“You can be professional and create really high-calibre work, and it can still be fun.”
So, unwavering smooth sailing and fun times? Not exactly. Like everyone else, COVID presented us with some significant hurdles. Logistics suddenly became much more complicated (travelling, shooting with individuals outside our bubble, constant rapid testing, etc.), as were the financial implications of having to safely navigate through a pandemic. And, particularly near the beginning, COVID protocols were vastly different from province to province. So we needed to stay on top of the constantly changing guidelines to ensure everyone we worked with on our shoots across the country, including ourselves, was kept safe.
Shoots, which once looked like a family reunion, now had a distinct air of rigorous design. Masks and hand sanitizer were (and continue to be) available everywhere. COVID officers were doing daily check-ins, temperature checks, and ensuring people maintained a safe social distance. The buffet meals around a table turned into individually packed meals around an outdoor parking lot.
“It seems normal now, but looking back, it was totally uncharted territory. And I think it exposed a lot of things we took for granted, things that made a film set work. We were constantly having to re-check every move we made. Everything took longer,” said Kitter.
03 — Looking on the Bright Side
Of course, some of the changes COVID brought were for the best. The necessity of social distancing on-set prompted us to invest in Frame.io Camera to Cloud (C2C), which allows cast, clients, and editors to access the footage from anywhere in the world within seconds after shooting. And Teradek’s ServPro, a hardware streaming device that transmits the video to any personal device on-set – which, sadly, eliminates the need to create a human pyramid in order to get a glimpse of the monitor. These enhancements and safety measures, made during the pandemic, will stick around our sets regardless of whether COVID does.
And needless to say, lots of hand sanitizer, masks, and awkward, breath-held, skull-bonking hugs (when absolutely necessary) likely aren’t going anywhere either. We’re committed to doing whatever is needed to keep working.
“A lot of people lost their jobs during COVID. And a lot of people suffered hardships. We were one of the industries fortunate enough to keep working. Which we are still very grateful for,” said Kitter. “So whatever precautions we need to take to keep working, we will do it. We move forward with an abundance of caution.”