Making Of: BMW X5M Competition
Pro-Pro: Shooting In The COVID-19 Era
Porch House implemented a mandatory two week quarantine period for all crew members prior to our target shoot date.
This was to ensure that all cast and crew were properly distanced from any risks to exposure of COVID-19.
Next we picked up our picture car. The interior was disinfected, by the driver, and only the driver. The car then became the sole responsibility of the driver, to handle and maneuver for the length of the shoot.
“The driver was the only individual allowed in the car for the duration of the shoot.”
For our location scout, we utilized google maps and 3D view to pinpoint areas in / around Downtown Los Angeles. We created visual diagrams for picture cars and chase vehicles, and had extensive pre-pro calls for camera moves and coordination.
We then took a virtual tour of our house location, and Facetimed with the owner so that we could get the lay of the land. We studied sun maps to determine when / where the best light would be in the house.
Next we put out an open casting call. While we normally like to see our talent in person before casting, a FaceTime worked wonderfully! We were able to get sizes, and forward them along to our stylist, who then ordered clothing directly to our talents house. We had another wardrobe fitting via Facetime and chose our 3 favorite outfits. The talent was able to make returns on his own per instructions from our stylist.
In regards to the talent - we had to ensure that he felt safe under the following circumstances:
Mandatory wearing of a face mask when the camera is not rolling.
Feeling comfortable removing the face mask when we’re filming.
We were able to operate through casting as a contact-less production. We set up a pre-pro zoom conference two days before the shoot and solidified the production to make sure everyone was on the same page.
The Shoot: Camera
Camera pick-up was orchestrated by our DP, who was the only individual present at camera prep. The gear was pre-sanitized prior to his arrival and he was left in an isolated room to prep the gear. He then loaded the gear up on his own and stored it for shooting the next day.
The Director typically likes to shoot b-camera and in this case wasn’t able to handle the DP’s camera due to our strict gear policy. Only the DP & AC are to handle the camera gear, maintaining 6 feet distance, and wearing gloves / masks at all times.
Our team opted to rent a second Arri Mini to have on deck should the Director want to grab some shots on his own. This worked out well! We also rented a Teradek 3000 for extra long range image viewing so that the crew could maintain the proper distance (or further if desired) and view feed.
The DP was required to maintain at least 6 feet of distance when filming the talent indoors & outdoors. We sourced glass that looks great at longer focal lengths. We went with old Japanese anamorphic glass - Nipponscope. The talent was shot exclusively on 50 & 75mm lenses while we shot the running footage with the 40mm. The AC was responsible for all card swaps and footage dumps, eliminating the immediate need for a DIT and thinning our crew further.
Our Key Grip & Gaff were asked to arrive early to the home before general crew call. With a few extra lights, they pre-lit three in-home set ups and when finished waited in their truck for further instruction. If anything required adjustment inside the home, the crew left before grip/gaff re-entered to make the fix. We left the camera on and took the wireless monitor outside. Our DP was able to deliver instructions to grip/gaff via walkie-talkie from the exterior. This did add overtime to Grip / Gaff normal day, but we gave them plenty of per diem for coffee breaks ;).
Hair & Makeup
We kindly asked our talent to come to set camera ready. Due to crew limitations we didn’t want to risk having HMU on site. We avoided many CU’s of talent but were still able to capture what we needed!
Prior to arrival at the home location we had an incredible cleaning crew on site to disinfect the home. Porch House provided the following material required for entry into the home:
- Rubber gloves.
- Face masks.
- Disposable booties in the home, to be changed each time someone leaves & re-enters.
While it’s nice to have PA’s for coffee & lunch runs, these are luxuries we have to learn to live without in order to keep our crew numbers to a minimum. Everyone was asked to bring their own crafty pack + lunch and was reimbursed at $18 / meal. This ensured the safe handling of meals.
Everyone took lunch in separate locations, outdoors, maintaining at least 10 ft of distance.
Our BlackArm came to the rescue. We own the system in house and it can be operated by the Director, DP, and AC. This minimizes the need for an entirely separate crew with an arm car + equipment. This is especially helpful in keeping crew numbers under 10.
The Director drove the camera car vehicle, while the DP operated the head, and the AC pulled focus. Through an open mic in the car, the Director was able to communicate with our precision car driver, instructing certain moves.
This was an awesome project all around and we’re super proud of the finished result. COVID-19 is causing everyone to re-think how we work in production. Luckily, we have been working with limited crew numbers since the beginning and are always trying to figure out how to craft the best product in unique circumstances.
We recently purchased state of the art remote client monitoring software, so that no one misses a beat. We look forward to bumping elbows with you in the near future.