There is much speculation about a post-COVID world and how it will shape and change various industries and lines of businesses. The Media and Entertainment industry the world over is closed for production (except for news channels) like most other businesses and sectors that cannot work remotely or work from home.
Investors and analysts are still grappling with the implications of this paradigm shift. However, most are optimistic about the resilience of the movie business. While the overall outlook depends on how long the theatres and multiplexes are closed, this is also an opportunity in disguise.
We don’t know when some of the biggest titles slated for a 2020 release will ultimately debut. For instance, one of the most awaited films of this year by Marvel “Black Widow” has been indefinitely delayed. Black Widow was originally slated for a May 1 premiere. Some other prominent studio films that got delayed include Disney’s “Mulan”, Universal Pictures’ “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and Paramount Pictures’ “A Quiet Place Part II”.
Closer home in Bollywood we have many top banners that have postponed releases and stalled shooting. However, as we all know both Bollywood and Hollywood love a good comeback and the post-COVID era will be no exception. Sure, it will bring about many changes in the way we make films but all for the larger good.
For instance, can you imagine shooting with a large crew in a jam-packed room with little ventilation and holding your breath until the director sounds “CUT”. This is about to change and for the better. The film industry will also realize the importance of preparing for contingencies in the future and find better ways of organizing funds for the countless technicians and daily wage earners who depend on this livelihood.
Another important factor that the film and TV industry is to penetrate the insurance market for newer projects. Studio projects will have to ensure that the insurance includes COVID-19 or similar pandemic claims in the future.
Time to put the thinking hats on
Typically, the production time for a mid-scale, regular film project is 25-45 days. While that is on hold for now, what studios creative heads, writers and directors must focus on, is the pre-production and development activity. This is the golden opportunity to literally lock yourself in and brew that story, that idea, ruminate on that script, watch great films, read brilliant stories and get those creative juices going.
This is the time to make some beautiful music, get inspired by the sound of silence in the world and tune into nature. There are stories all around us, waiting to be written and this is our chance as an industry to ring in some innovation and freshness to the business.
Luckily, we live in the digital era. Video meetings have made much of these things possible. The studio circuit is very active and already brimming with activity, albeit on the digital front. However, one question that has perplexed the film industry for a while now, begs asking. “What constitutes a film?” Is it simply the method of display or the format and content that make the film a film? COVID-19 has forced us to think about these existential questions and our methods of content distribution. Rest assured, the film and the movie-making business is alive and kicking. We will be back with a bang.