(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Can work-from-home and social separation work for a TV drama production?
For millions of Americans right now working out of the home and resorting to video conferencing has become the norm for business practices. Now, a television show is looking to adopt these methods in creating an episode of a primetime drama. On CBS, the primetime drama ‘’All Rise’’ will try to become the first coronavirus-themed show, employing the quarantine conditions many of us face in the filming of an episode. This will be seen in both the plotline and also in the creation of the episode.
Slated to be broadcast on May 4, the episode will be made with the cast and crew completely segregated from each other. The cast will film scenes in their homes and through the use of popular video social platforms — such as FaceTime, Zoom, WebE, and others — it will both be centered upon, and employ techniques unique to the social isolation.
Not only will the social platforms be used but the producers will use digital effects on some of the footage. Also, there will be exterior shots made with a lone cameraman operating in a vehicle, who will not only be filming location exteriors but capturing the images of a sparsely populated cityscape.
The script for the episode is currently being written to center primarily around the prospect of a judge presiding over a ‘’virtual court case’’, whereby the participants will be participating digitally through the means of remote video. Other side plots will involve the various characters adapting to the home-based lifestyle, including one said to be a germaphobe grappling with anxiety, and another undertaking a job involving food delivery.
More than a stunt, this is an attempt to find an alternative to film and television productions that have had to shut down entirely as a result of governmental restrictions on social gatherings and crowd-limitation standards. Currently, the most viable programming that has managed to continue involves news programs and talk shows, where the limited amount of on-screen individuals means that remote productions have been more feasible.
One other sector of entertainment that has managed to find a way to continue production, as we discussed at length on the recent The Culture Shift podcast, has been with animation. As some of the producers were able to anticipate the shutdown, the workers on various aspects of the creative work on animated shows have been able to bring hardware home and continue work remotely. Interestingly, the digital and cloud-based components in the process have made this a viable transition.
In the case of “All Rise’’, there will certainly be many other productions watching closely to see if there is any way to adapt the methods used, depending on the level of success. The good news is that the various new digital and video alternatives mean that the creativity will have to now extend beyond the writing and performances. The technical workers will also now need to come up with creative solutions if there is any hope of creating new content during this unprecedented national shutdown.