Filming Over Zoom: The Shape Of Filming Going Forward?

Many of us have been spending large amounts of our time on Zoom, Microsoft Teams and the like recently, and “You’re on mute!” has seemingly become one of 2020’s most common catchphrases. While it’s a worthwhile means for work meetings and networking events, could it also be helpful to the still-largely-locked-down entertainment industry?

We’ve seen online chats incorporated into film before of course, most famously in the found-footage-horror genre with The DenSearching and the Unfriended films among others. So heading online seemed the perfect option when lockdown hit – and we’ve had a few success stories from it so far. Shudder’s Zoom-based chiller Host won acclaim over the summer, while BBC One’s Staged, with an A-list cast including David Tennant, Michael Sheen and Judi Dench, proved the medium can be used for comedy series too. During lockdown I did see several casting calls for short films based around Zoom pop up on the audition sites, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more major networks using the format within their upcoming productions too – particularly with more lockdowns looking likely before the end of the year.

Recently I had the pleasure of working with Cardboard Moon Productions on the short comedy film Jargon Fitness, partly based around a Zoom meeting. Each meeting attendee was filmed separately, and after the crew checked our costumes and the background of our rooms, we were given a pre-recorded workout video to follow by the director, which was then recorded and added to the meeting in the film. As you can see from the film below, it wasn’t a major calorie-burner and like real Zoom meetings, wasn’t always easy to keep everyone in sync, but was great fun to do and an interesting insight into what looks set to become a useful medium to film-makers of the world.

Video chats have been used in film to good (and not so good!) effect in showing the comic and dramatic sides of self-isolation, and looks likely to feature in many more productions to come. So make sure you keep an eye on that mute button!

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