On Location: Producing During Social Distancing

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ThinkBig Productions was approached by The Greater Houston Partnership to create a Small Biz Insider Series in 2020. In March, two days before production was set to begin, it was put on an indefinite hold due to the COVID-19 crisis.

In May, the production team returned to the field for the first time to capture the story of Phoenicia Foods, Houston’s specialty food store which opened it’s doors in 1983. The first episode tells the story of how this small business is managing to keep their doors open during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We were asked to shoot a story about resiliency during COVID-19. and we wanted to capture this story. We see this as a time to serve the need of our customers,” said Erin Rees, Owner and Executive Producer at ThinkBig Productions.

Still from Small Biz Insider Series: How a Downtown Family is Adapting to Changing Business

The approach to documentary-style production during a time of social distancing involves leaving a limited crew footprint. This shoot was accomplished with one cinematographer, one gaffer and one producer. Making choices in the field to stay safe include choosing to use battery powered lights so areas of touch are reduced and using long lenses to maintain distance with the subject that is on camera.

The crew wore proper personal protective equipment and abided by the 6-feet-apart social distancing rule. Additionally, the rented equipment used on set was sanitized under UV light by the production vendor before leaving their rental facility.

“Our team has always been a lean film crew and tried to have a light foot print on set. It is important to be limited when you’re a documentary style crew so you’re documenting, not creating,” said Rees.

Still from Small Biz Insider Series: How a Downtown Family is Adapting to Changing Business

For the future, Rees stated that the ThinkBig team is well equipped to tell cinematic stories with a lean footprint and maintaining these new standards in production won’t be an impossibility.

“It felt good to be out and doing what we do best. We are continuing to follow the city and county guidelines and know we can still effectively tell important stories, no matter what the future holds,” said Rees.

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About Me

Valeria Dominguez resides in Houston, TX. She has coordinated feature films, commercials, and an accomplished author.

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