If you’re anything like us, your year thus far has been full of questions. No corner of life has been spared from inspection, review and — let’s be honest — at least a small dose of uncertainty. Whether it’s evaluating if the vacation plans you made months ago are still valid or safe, determining if sending your children back to school is right for your family, or even just deciding how many masks you need to get through the week, every day seems to be full of an unprecedented number of questions. 

It can all be a little exhausting. But, arguably, it would also appear that this current reality is forcing us to be extraordinarily present. 

For the team at Designsensory, being present has meant a whole lot more than just keeping up with refilling our hand sanitizers! In particular, it’s meant taking stock of three key indicators: 

  1. The need for content: Crafting the right conversations with your customers to educate and inform, as well as maintain engagement
  2. The demand for content: Answering the call of households across the country to replace activities that have otherwise been paused, as well as maintain a connection to the outside world
  3. The role of content in our economy: Continuing to support and employ the tens of thousands of citizens — and their hundreds of millions of dollars in economic output — that rely on the production industry

Alongside our financial responsibility to our clients, we all have a responsibility to our colleagues and communities to stay safe and minimize risk, which brings me back to the concept of “questions.” As part of our work servicing the State of Tennessee, our agency was deemed “essential” as early as mid-March, with production services continuing in an adapted, but uninterrupted format ever since. 

Over the last six months, we’ve worked with respected institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Motion Picture Association to develop a rubric to determine the format and production envelope that is most appropriate for your situation. These guidelines have not only provided consistent evaluating criteria for assessing our work, they have also served as a daily touchstone to determine if we need to adjust our strategy or approach. 

Question 1: In order to create your “safe" set, is a set even really necessary?

Although answering this question will likely touch on the topics of budget, timeline, audience, message and usage, at the heart of it is the understanding that “further is safer.” 

For the team at Designsensory, this meant plotting all of our production options along a spectrum from contactless to conventional. These options include:

Question 2: Can you start small?

For some clients, unprecedented times mean unprecedented content. Reflecting a new reality may mean that capturing highly specific footage is simply unavoidable. 

For the team at Designsensory, this need drives us further down the spectrum, including:

Question 3: Can you accommodate COVID-safe procedures?

Where scripted content is concerned, crews can often only be optimized to a point, with departments like wardrobe, hair and makeup, and art being integral to telling the correct visual story. 

In these instances, the team at Designsensory believes achieving safe sets can be accomplished in the script, as well as the situation:

This is a developing situation; a choice made a few weeks ago may not be a good fit a few weeks later. How exactly do you come to that determination? It’s not enough to ask questions; you must ask the right questions — and ask them frequently.

Let’s face it: as creatives, we’ve made a career out of thinking outside the box. And while this pandemic may present us with unique challenges, we’re all in this together. We may not be able to come together physically right now, but we can come together collaboratively. It may mean that the only thing we get comfortable with over the coming months is being uncomfortable. But if necessity truly is the mother of invention, then our best days are still ahead of us.