As we have discussed since our first blog, change due to the Coronavirus pandemic is inevitable. The entertainment industry has done its best to adapt as quickly as possible, and audiences are more reliant on content now more than ever. At first, we saw an indefinite postponing of events and productions across the board. However, as it is becoming clear that this era is far from over, and we must adapt to new modes of creation. So far, we have seen positive examples come from our community. Major production houses, talent/talk shows, and scripted series have all provided examples of ways to find a new normal for content creation without worrying about an outbreak of Coronavirus on set.
It is important to note that other sectors of the entertainment industry have seemed in limbo, namely film festivals and award shows. As many states and countries advance and revert their restrictions on what can and cannot take place during this time, questions abound regarding what that means for festivals and award season. Most film festivals chose to postpone until 2021 or go virtual and award shows, for now, have been pushed until later in 2021, but we could very well see a change in that soon.
Over the past week, two major events took place: the MTV VMAs and Venice Film Festival. Both opted for an in-person event. The success of these events could shape future award shows and festivals, as there had not been a frontrunner to pave the path until now.
In this week’s blog, we will take a look at how each show transpired as well as what this could mean for the future. Film Connx is a source of valuable information on subjects that matter most to the film community. Enjoy!
Over the past weekend, the MTV VMAs took place in New York City. There was much speculation about how the production team would pull off the award show, due to New York’s COVID restrictions. MTV announced that the show would be taking place at various locations throughout the city to maintain its usual extravagant feel while also being as safe as possible.
The show was a mix of pre-taped and live performances, with host Keke Palmer keeping up the energy. According to our sources, Palmer took over 10 COVID-19 tests to comply with the guidelines put in place and to ensure a smooth event. Behind the scenes the cast, crew, and performers constantly social distanced and wore masks at all times to ensure safety. Most winners accepted their awards remotely. Lady Gaga was one exception, as she accepted her multiple awards via green screen in Los Angeles along with a few other celebs, and she did not disappoint with her ever-changing face mask fashion and consistent urging that people wear masks.
Throughout the night, many performers delivered more than expected from their locations. The Weekend performed at The Edge equipped with fireworks, lights, and helicopters. Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande performed wearing fashionable masks along with their dancers. Other performers like BTS and Doja Cat gave their performance with a green screen to still give the full experience to viewers.
Many people are calling the award show a huge success in the time of COVID-19 and it could very well be a blueprint for how future award shows can delight viewers while adhering to safety protocols. Of course, most film-related award shows are much less about visual theatrics but, given how much precaution and work transpired behind the scenes for the MTV VMAs, film award shows could utilize similar practices to have a successful in-person event.
Film festivals have been noticeably absent from the film industry after the spread of Coronavirus. The last major festival to take place business-as-usual was Sundance which was then reported to be a hub for the Coronavirus as people headed back to their home states/countries after mingling without protection or distancing. Since then, most festivals have opted to postpone or go virtual. Notably SXSW, which was set for early March, canceled its renowned events but partnered with Amazon to offer access to this year selected films.
Film festivals almost unanimously seem to be pushing in-person events well into 2021 however, a select few are going against the tide. This week, the Venice Film Festival will takie place, and everyone is waiting to see how it will pan out. So far, we know that masks and temperature checks will be mandatory, red carpets will still happen with socially distanced stars and photographers, a smaller lineup of films will be screened across several theaters simultaneously, and several screenings will happen outdoors. One of the biggest changes is that Italy’s rules still prohibit visitors outside of the EU. Although this effectively bans international guests, the festival is providing a “virtual screening room” for accredited attendees.
The biggest question seems to be whether having in-person festivals makes sense, considering the required sacrifices, including decreasing the number of films screened, banning international attendees, and fewer attendees in general. The community is waiting for the first major festival to make the first move in order to move forward. It is no secret that most European countries have had a more progressive approach to handling COVID-19, and therefore it is not surprising that such a major event is being held in the EU first. If successful, Venice Film Festival will surely show other festivals how the show can go on, similar to the trailblazing that Tyler Perry Studios and the MTV VMAs have done for their communities.
The Only Way is Forward
We are in this for the long haul and as we have discussed in previous blogs, we must adapt, and “waiting it out” is not a salient long term strategy. Our lives and industry are morphing into a new normal and in the film industry, we all rely on one another. Productions have to restart to provide work, and festivals and award shows must go on to help get films purchased and recognized. Although the entertainment industry has been hit hard, we are resilient and will not easily give up. Many companies and organizations are working to end the mass unemployment within our field and change is slowly but surely happening.
Film Connx’s COVID-19 blog series illustrated the challenges and progress within our industry concerning Coronavirus. As we continue to bring you news and perspective, the reality is that no matter what we cover, COVID-19 will be a part of our story for the foreseeable future. Coronavirus has not only shaped the entertainment industry, but the world we all live in. While that is scary, there are some silver linings. Filming environments have never been safer, work hours are being right-sized, and much more. Coronavirus has opened our eyes and we are choosing to adapt.