Following the easing of lockdown requirements, agencies have started to adapt scripts and shoots accordingly so that they do not jar with current, and potentially future, social-distancing requirements.
Last week, the Association of Production Agencies released a comprehensive list of guidelines for shoots, including recommendations that the number of people on location should be kept to a bare minimum; that social distancing should apply for talent (and where it was not possible, members of the same household should be shot or composites of individual shots created); and that crew or cast who might be required to break the two-metre restriction should be supplied with personal protective equipment.
"Watching pre-Covid ads on TV at the moment brings me out in hives, especially the crowd scenes. Two metres away, you fuckers!" Vicki Maguire, chief creative officer at Havas London, said. "But am I writing scripts where the leads walk through the park with a bus lane between them? No. Although I’m not opening in a hot, sweaty nightclub either.
"We’re writing with current shooting guidelines front of mind, but it’s a delicate balance. Come Christmas, the thought of seeing jostling crowds of faux shoppers shot in July gives me palpitations, but then again, I don’t really want to see them in masks either. I want TV to suspend reality for just 30 or 60 seconds."
Lazaros Nikiforidis, executive creative director at Digitas UK, pointed out that it was difficult to impose social-distancing rules in the idea-creation process, but that he was now having to consider how to think of ways to make the ideas easier and safer to produce.
"The first real test has been restarting production for campaigns that were signed off well before the pandemic. Campaigns that were in pre-production and had to be paused," he explained. "Revisiting those assets through the lens of all the new production regulations and considerations is already proving quite a challenge; how much can you alter an execution before the idea starts to show crack?"
Nikiforidis was optimistic that creativity would prevail, however. "We’re in an industry that inherently is about being resourceful and finding creative ways out of difficult problems that are not static but sometimes evolve and change. This is a great asset we hold that I am optimistic will lead us to some unexpected solutions going forward," he concluded.