COVID-19 has changed filmmaking for good.
Filmmakers and studios respond to the important historical events of our time through the guise of stories. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different. The virus has created the biggest cultural shift since WWII. So, it will be interesting to see how many films in the next few years embed the pandemic into the narrative.
COVID-19 – The New World War
WWII created a completely new genre of films – the WWII film. As a genre, many films are produced each year and it shows no signs of stopping with big releases like 1917.
Will we see the same thing happen with COVID-19?
Well, of course, the pandemic isn’t even a tenth of the magnitude of damage that WWII caused (it is incomparable). But, it is inevitable that the societal changes it has created will be depicted on screen.
The only question is how.
Will COVID-19 Change Human Interaction on Film?
COVID-19 has completely reshaped how humans meet, greet and interact with each other. Do filmmakers now show social events with a plethora of attendees wearing masks? How will this affect audio? How will this affect star actors being used to having their faces constantly on show?
The appearance of masks offers filmmakers a production and narrative obstacle.
From a production perspective, masks render location audio recording troublesome because the material heavily muffles voices.
Narratively, masks are typically used to conceal information from the audience. It attributes characters with mystique. But when all characters wear it as a formality – the effect is the complete opposite.
Greetings in public settings have also completed changed. Hugs, handshakes, and kisses are veering on extinction, and characters on screen would have to find other ways of greeting each other. It’s hard to not reference COVID-19 if you’re showing character greet each other using one of the new forms of socially distanced greetings.
In essence, if you reference COVID-19 at all, you may as well engulf the entire storyline with it.
Forget About COVID-19?
Or you can just avoid it altogether.
This is what filmmakers have been doing. By avoiding referencing COVID, a film supposedly set in the modern-day can appear to operate within an alternate reality.
Audiences typically want to venture away from the reality of life in favour of escaping to fantastical worlds through cinema. Right now, a COVID storyline will only serve as a reminder that we’re all still dealing with the pandemic.
If you want to include COVID-19 in your storytelling, it’s best that the entire film is based around the pandemic or at best COVID-19 is merely noted in passing. Otherwise, there are too many elements that would nullify your story.
However, harking back to WWII films, what we may see in a post-Coronavirus society are films that reflect a new wave.
A new renaissance.
As we saw with the roaring 20s and the swinging 60s, we can envision a future where people cherish spontaneity and creation.
A future where people make up for the time they lost.
We predict we will see a deluge of films depicting hedonistic escapades. There will be more adventurous storytelling as filmmakers themselves gain more freedom. That’s how we can positively embed COVID-19 into our storytelling.
By showing the world, how we managed to survive and prosper.