Mill Thought | Head of Content Ian Bearce talks Production Post-Covid

As the world slowly starts to reopen, we’ve been looking beyond the pandemic crisis to explore what the post-Covid-19 future looks like for businesses, communities and creativity.
Thought June 22, 2020

The advertising industry and surrounding creative communities have rallied to find new ways of working during this trying time, from visual effects led-narrative to user-generated content, ads shot on iPhone or Zoom and everything in between. But what does the future of Live Action look like in a post-pandemic world?

Ian Bearce, The Mill’s Head of Content, tells us more about how his live action team has adapted through the pandemic and speculates on the future of shoots.

“It goes without saying, but these strange times pose interesting challenges to Live Action production. We have, however, been able to adapt quickly and have innovated creative solutions to new projects. Our focus remains on the safety of our people and clients, as well as on continuing to create extraordinary work. This still includes shooting original content practically and remotely.

As the crisis has progressed, we have expanded our vast network of Directors and DPs – our best talent from all over the country – and tapped into their remote capabilities. While utilizing their lovely homes and families and being fully equipped with remote viewing for agencies and clients, they’ve been hard at work.

The world is beginning to open itself back up to production, but the process will be a slow and lengthy one. I think remote production is here to stay.

So far at The Mill we’ve completed a number of projects from home using a variety of live action solutions, from Voxi (shot, directed, styled entirely over Zoom) to Zillow (executed by our DP entirely within his own home).

With the industry having adapted so quickly to unforeseen circumstances, we can take a lot of learnings with us about remote shooting capabilities and most importantly, communication and creative feedback. With the imminent restrictions of personnel numbers on set, I think we’ll see less need for on-set attendance and it will be limited to creative crew only. Live streaming and instant remote feedback options will enable us to shoot as normal with far fewer people on-site.

The reality of higher shooting costs is also one we’ll have to face. Shooting will be a slower process due to safety measures that will inevitably have to be put in place. Locations will need to be bigger to allow for social distancing of the crew and it’s likely we’ll see crews working in shifts. The Art Dept will be the first shift. Grip and Electric 2nd shift. Camera dept 3rd shift, and so on.

When lockdown ends, I think we will see a flood of new projects wanting to explore live action opportunities, however in response to the restrictions in place and potential cost implications, I can see the potential for shoot-based creative to evolve and perhaps rely on visual effects to amplify the look and feel of smaller shoots and develop the epic advertising creative from big brands we’ve all come to know. I think The Mill is well positioned to help our clients learn about the restrictions and steer them towards solutions that satisfy both the creative ask and the budget constraints.

Finally, I think virtual production will be a game changer. This approach to production could be a boon for the right organizations. The big streaming services are reported to be building virtual stages in LA already in order to generate new content in a live-action-less world. For long form projects this makes a lot of sense, but for us in the marketing space it would need to hit a point of critical mass where there was a supply of real time backgrounds to reuse and manipulate, similar to the way we use turbo squid or Getty to speed up a process and at the same time save costs – however that tipping point is fast approaching.”


You can get in touch with our Mill Direction team here.