Libor Dušek, a Czech filmmaker in Prague, shared his story and behind the scenes of the film industry during the crisis with us. It has been more than 2 years since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis and today we are looking back at the experiences of people working in the film industry during these challenging times.
What changes did Covid-19 bring to the work environment in the film industry?
Covid brought rules to the set. For many crew members, the rules were considered unpleasant or annoying. For some, they were seen as a reasonable matter and the number one rule that made the shooting possible. Therefore, we could call it the covid fact where the staff was divided into two camps.
"One side was happy to film again, and the other would rather be doing something else."
I am talking now about the positions covid created, which took many people’s jobs but on the contrary created new jobs for filmmakers as well.
What did Covid-19 bring to the film world?
The pandemic created these new positions:
A person who supervises the entire team, ensures the whole department, and is in charge of the most crucial things; from actors to contracts and schedules. They are the decision-makers in difficult situations and together with production solved unprecedented problems. Supervisors are in charge of determining the workload and payment fees of each worker in the covid department. They negotiate the conditions with the sampling laboratory and have the final say with the owner of the laboratory.
Covid Coordinator is a person under a Supervisor. The coordinator has to ensure the mobile test crew. They arrange that it would be possible for the employees to be tested in one day even at five places. E.g. in one day, testing can occur in many locations; at the addresses of the actors, in the studio where office employees work (production, costumes, etc.), and on different sets.
In addition, they had to make certain, that enough authorized medics were available. Furthermore, the coordinator must ensure agreement with the production/supervisor on the division of testing groups.
I was on a project where the staff was divided into four groups with each color corresponding to its importance. E.g. red was the most important color and included the crew members who came into close contact with the actors (drivers of the actors, stuntmen, etc.). This group was tested 5 times a week, i.e. every working day.
The primary role of the COVID Marshal is to ensure that the COVID measures established by production are followed as carefully and early as possible. This role included, in particular, the correct wearing of protective equipment - an FFP2 respirator (For everyone except the actors in the shot). Also: Glasses and shields near the camera, gloves when dispensing food - catering. Moreover, they supervise the proper and regular ventilation of the interior spaces.
The COVID Marshal should set an example for others and avoid situations where he breaks the rules he requires of other staff members. The COVID Marshal must be visibly recognizable to his colleagues and other staff members; meaning wearing a jacket or vest that makes it apparent to all workers.
There could easily be ten Marshals on the set. The number of this position depends on the number of staff members. E.g. When filming, the number of members that reached below 100 people, 2 people who supervised covid measures were enough.
The whole topic regarding the new positions created due to the epidemic is not very cheerful...
I know a lot of people who have lost their jobs due to covid-19. People who worked in culture - e.g. in the music industry. A colleague worked as a tour manager for twenty years, but now that the bands are canceling their tours, he has been unemployed for a long time, so he worked in the covid department of a film. My colleagues and I believed in a better tomorrow. We believed that covid and filming would not be here forever. However, I would like to note that thanks to covid, a lot of people got a job because it is not rocket science. You need to be handy and have experience working with people and knowing the film industry is a nice benefit, but it's nothing that can't be learned. And besides work, it's also great and important that thanks to these new positions, you could meet great colleagues that you wouldn't have met otherwise.
"And isn't it all about meeting the people you want in your life and from whom you still have something to learn?"
Libor has 5 years of film experience. He studied film production at the Michael School and later at Famu International. In his free time, he organizes theater, plays the drums, and has written 4 short stories to date. He recorded an audiobook of the last one, entitled "How Truman met Matilda and woke up on the moon", last year. Free to listen at: https://vimeo.com/655854287