When the Covid 19 Pandemic was officially announced and everyone went into lockdown, I also lost my daytime survival production job and saw no way to be on set directing projects any time soon. It was scary to lose that steady paycheck and not get any projects up on their feet. Though I didn’t know it at the time, the year would become a blessing in so many ways. I am not making light of anyone losing a job (or worse, getting sick from the virus). It was a hard time for eve-ryone, but I want to share how so many of us found a way to thrive in the face of adversity.
As a director, I was selected to be a part of Blackmagic Collective’s Future Women of TV Initiative, in the hope to transition into directing for TV. The goal was to meet with one Champion a month. Suddenly everyone in the entertainment industry was affected by stay-at-home orders so our group was able to take Zoom meetings with Studio ex-ecutives and showrunners because they had the free time and with huge names. We would have never gotten those meetings under normal circumstances. We met with over 50 executives in 2020!
Right before the shut down, I had founded The Directors Chair 5050 workshops with the intention to help women directors, BIPOC, LGBTQAI+ directors, directors with disabilities, veterans, and woke men wanting to work in Television, Streaming and Feature Films de-velop, finance, and produce their own short films and proof of con-cept ideas. I would help them gain experience by helping them with pre-production, crewing up to shoot their projects, and being on set. Suddenly, the world is shut down and we had no idea how we could pull off the very important production part of the program. But in true indie film fashion, we were able to get some projects completed and 5 of those have been accepted into 10 film festivals so far.
I am so proud of the impact the workshops have had on the filmmak-ers, and some of the films in the festival circuit were directed by peo-ple who had never directed before. I am thrilled that they have been so successful in a year fraught with uncertainty and challenge. The students came up with amazing story ideas and found a way to make it work. I encouraged the students to keep the stories in one or two locations with no more than 5 characters.
I also teach directing at UCLA and even though we couldn’t meet in person anymore, the students came up with creative ways to shoot their short films required for class. One of the coolest parts was since class was no online I could welcome people to join from out of state and from overseas. The participants had more time to focus on pas-sion projects as they were also forced to work from home or lose their jobs due to lockdown, so the workshops kept them busy.
Furthermore, given the time to reinvent myself after losing my day job, I decided to become a Covid Compliance Officer. A very im-portant job on set, ensuring everyone is safe, social distancing and wearing their masks and other protective items like gloves and face shields. Before a production everyone must get a Covid test. As they arrive on set every day, I take their temperature and get them to fill out a questionnaire to make sure they have not been around anyone with Covid 19 symptoms. When on set we make sure the wardrobe, hair and make-up departments are at opposite ends of the stage. We also ensure that anyone who does not need to be on the set stay in their own departments. It was interesting to see how everyone adapted to the new normal so quickly. Thankfully I was working with smaller crews, so the sets were very contained, and everyone prac-ticed safety protocols. Being a Covid Compliance Officer was also a great way to get out of the house and be on set. The training is fairly simple; to become certified you can do the course online. Once you have your certificate you are good to go. It is a mandatory position on sets in LA and if you don’t have a Covid Officer on your crew you can’t get a permit to film.
Beyond that, having all the additional time and no distractions, I was able to take a couple of TV writing classes through the UCLA Exten-sion. It was wonderful to get so much writing done. Being held ac-countable through my weekly assignments, I completed a 2nd draft of a 60-page TV Pilot and am halfway through a second TV Pilot. It was also a great way to meet and connect to new writers and people who have become good friends.
I am excited for what the future has in store, and I do believe that we will get back to some kind of normalcy, but until then I will continue to find a way to stay creative and helping others follow their dreams.
If you would like to find out more information about The Directors Chair 5050 workshop, please email: