Monday, 24 August 2020

Do you need to write social distancing into your screenplay?

The industry is picking itself back up, with shoots resuming under new guidelines. Testing, social distancing, PPE, bubbles - all measures there to protect cast and crew. All of which, also, will impact how productions are filmed and directed and, in turn, how they will be written in the immediate future.

The question that I've seen pop up among screenwriters is, 'Do I have to write in social distancing in a script? Does this mean stunts and romance are out? Are my thriller and action specs, or anything with a lot of more intimate scenes dead in the water?'

The long and short answer are: No. At least, for spec scripts.

If you are going to make it yourself, or will more directly know the people doing it, then yes. There, you have a more direct responsibility on what is likely, a lower budget production. But in most cases, the people who are asking this question are thinking of agents and production companies i.e. the classic way into the industry. Having spoken to three different development people at Mammoth Screen (Endeavor, Victoria), Hillbilly Films (Tin Man) and Hartswood (Sherlock, Dracula) respectively, the answer was all the same: leave that to production, just focus on the writing.

In addition, specs I have been sending out to both types have received no rejection or disqualification, by virtue of having been written, pre-pandemic, with those larger elements. The industry has had to find ways to make these aspects doable - realistically, you can only work around them for so long. People want romance and action and other types of more physical, close up scenes in their shows. To this end, projects like The Batman, Jurassic World: Dominion and Fox's War of the Worlds have been getting back up and running with new protocols. Richard Clarke, director on WotW, has been documenting it on his Twitter.

Writing has undeniably been made harder because of Covid disrupting our routines. I've certainly talked about this plenty. The broader economic woes don't help much either. However, this at least one aspect that you shouldn't concern yourself with much - the focus, as always, should be on quality writing.

Stay safe.

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