We’ve been keeping up with our friends in the biz as they transition back to their lives on set both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. It’s not news that a lot has changed over these last few months, but there is nothing quite like a first hand account to break it all down!
Today we are featuring Brian Collura, an actor based in LA that has been a friend of the company since we began in 2018. Recently, Brian has returned to working as a featured background actor for a few upcoming films with Warner Bros & MGM Studios. He talked with us about what’s different and what it was like to get back to work after many months off.
So this was your first project since the shutdown! How did it feel to be back on set since the pandemic began?
It is great to be working again and I am so happy that more and more production companies are starting to get their productions back up and running in a safe way. It felt so good to be back and I am very lucky to have gotten some working days.
Prior to filming, what was the process like? How did it differ from other work you've done before the pandemic?
Obviously, pre-pandemic everything was much easier. It was a matter of simply submitting to casting projects online or your agent sending you on auditions, which of course were in person. Now, the process is a little more complicated and takes more time. For example, you now have to be available for all Covid-19 testing day(s) that the production requires in addition to fittings and the actual shooting day(s). You have to really schedule accordingly and make sure you won't double book yourself with different projects. These days you just have to do a little extra planning!
Since you worked full days, you still received meal breaks. What was craft services like?
Craft services, my favorite! Craft Services certainly isn't quite the same as it was pre-pandemic and understandably so. Normally it would be an open buffet and you could self serve yourself whatever and how much you want. Now, there is a team of caterers that serve you your food in to-go packaging. One disappointment I felt was that everything was plastic. Plastic to-go containers, plastic cups, plastic silverware. I'm hoping other sets have switched to eco friendly and sustainable to-go materials.
Obviously, many have concerns about safety getting back to work in the midst of all of this going on. Overall, did you feel safe working? Did production remain compliant with the guidelines that they had sent to you before?
I felt production was very safe. Productions have hired new "COVID Compliance Coordinators" and support PA’s who walk around set and holding locations throughout the whole day making sure everyone is staying 6 feet apart at all times and making sure everyone is wearing a mask. I also noticed many hand washing stations throughout the whole production lot and access to sanitizer. All of the productions I’ve worked on since restarting have made health and safety their top priority. They even sent us packets prior and we had to complete a preliminary training before our first day on set. They were super communicative about the new protocol so we all felt really comfortable and prepared.
Now with all of these additional protocols and procedures, was production able to stay on schedule? Were your work days shorter?
For the most part it was a typical day on set. Our schedule wasn’t shorter; the hours were on par to what a normal day of background work would be. Of course any production is bound to run a little behind but it was nothing too crazy. Even amidst all of the new procedures, production did a great job with planning and keeping things moving. They created a staggered schedule to bring some cast and crew earlier to get through testing, wardrobe & HMU, which helped keep people distanced and allowed things to run smoothly overall.
Did you notice any difference in staffing?
I actually think they hired more people due to Covid-19. They had to hire nurses to take our Covid tests in addition to the new Safety Coordinator team. This was a closed set and they were very strict on nobody showing up to set if they didn't need to be there. One thing I noticed that was closed was the Video Village which usually draws a pretty big crowd to watch takes. They axed it to keep people from hanging out too long or being on set when they weren’t supposed to.
With projects resuming slowly but surely, have you noticed more jobs starting to come back?
While filming has resumed, in terms of background opportunities it’s nowhere near as busy as it was pre-pandemic. Some productions I’ve worked on have had to shut down due to someone testing positive and many have taken extended hiatus’ depending on where they were at before the shutdown. Each week I see more and more casting announcements which is hopeful but I do think it takes a lot of planning to get a project ready to start filming which is why I think it has been a slow start. I am hoping we get back to normal soon!
Do you think background work will be slim now moving forward?
While background is a huge part in setting a scene and making movies and tv shows seem as real as possible, I do think there will be a drop in background performers on set for the time being. I think as of now, productions are getting creative on what they're filming and potentially trying to cut down the number of background performers as much as they can to limit risk. On my set, the max number of background performers was 55. Prior to this, there could be upwards of hundreds. I think anything over that it starts to get a little crowded and overwhelming for production.
How do you think the film & tv industry is handling these changes?
Honestly from my perspective, I think the industry is doing a great job and the best they can with all of these new health and safety guidelines. It’s a lot more work and planning but everyone is eager to get back to working on these amazing projects and everyone is respecting the guidelines. As long as you are wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart and keeping your hygiene up you will have a great day on set and make everyone's job a little easier!
Brian is an actor based out of Los Angeles, California. He is a graduate of the New York Film Academy where he studied Acting for both the stage and screen. Brian has worked for Viridian Coast Studios on multiple creative properties as on camera talent and as a production assistant. Additional television credits include: The Kominsky Method (Netflix), Atypical (Netflix), All American (CW) The Middle (ABC), Under the Influence (Viridian Coast Studios), Capital Advice (Viridian Coast Studios). Film appearances include: Dog (dir. Channing Tatum & Reid Carolin, 2021) Moxie (dir. Amy Poehler, 2021) & Creedmoria (dir. Alicia Slimmer, 2018), which is now available on Amazon Prime Video. Brian will be starring in the upcoming film “Orange Park” which will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in early 2021.
Are you a film & television professional actively working throughout the pandemic? Want to tell us about it? Connect with us on our website through our "Contact Us" form!