3 Ways That COVID Can Help Us Rethink Video Production

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RuPaul's Drag Race star Trixie Mattel combs her hair for a video shoot in a vintage bathroom

It goes without saying that the current pandemic has forced everyone to rethink our routines. We’ve all had to strategically pivot in ways that we might never have imagined before, and we’ve had to look hard at how to continue producing content within new budgetary and logistical constraints.

Here at Q.Digital, we just coordinated our first video shoot since the pandemic struck, for a three-episode extension of the award-nominated series, That’s Our Sally. We can’t reveal too much about this project yet, but we are excited about the upcoming launch, given the success of the original series starring Trixie Mattel.

Here are just a few insights from the shoot and the state of video during COVID, in the hopes that it proves useful for the many who are facing similar circumstances.

First off, some context…

1. It’s More Important Than Ever to Create LGBTQ Video Content

Naturally, the stay-at-home economy has grown substantially during the pandemic, and all consumers are engaging with digital content more than ever before. This study, for example, compares recent digital content trends by generation, showing that 51% of Gen Z respondents are consuming more online video content than before the pandemic started. And what do we know about Gen Z? Well, for one thing, they are 60% more likely than even Millennials to identify as LGBTQ.

To reach Gen Z, LGBTQ should be top of mind. Though they are not one-in-the-same, these demographics are intrinsically intertwined, and this is a great time to reach both, while they are at home and consuming more content than ever. Making sure their identities are reflected in media is a vital proposition for marketers.

In regard to digital content consumption, our own data mimics national trends. Not surprisingly, we’ve noticed that video plays across Queerty have risen considerably in the months following the outbreak when compared to the months preceding it.

Next, KPIs have changed, and consumer demand is down across the board. That doesn’t mean we should not be using this time to reach consumers, however. It just means that it’s even more important to think long-term. And when thinking into the future, LGBTQ consumers are irreplaceable. 90% of our readers, for example, say they are loyal to their favorite brands, and LGBTQ consumers are well-known to be loyal to brands that engage with and support the LGBTQ community. Though financial uncertainty precludes many consumers from making purchases today, authentically engaging with the LGBTQ community creates a foundation for loyal purchasing decisions tomorrow.

And lastly, with the pandemic hitting right before Pride, many brands (understandably) didn’t activate the way they usually do. However, Pride is really every day of the year. If you missed connecting with the LGBTQ community during Pride, it’s even more important to do so now, and data around engagement shows that video is one of the best avenues to do so.

2. Set Safety During and After the Pandemic

For our recent That’s Our Sally video shoot, we worked with COVID-Compliance Set Expert, Craig Young, to ensure the shoot adhered to all best practices and safety protocols.

Young is a writer, actor, and producer, and was working on a TV show that shut down production due to COVID when he decided that he would use the downtime to become a set safety compliance expert. One safety course turned into two, two to four, and so on. Then he decided to create a model for shooting during COVID.

His insights were instrumental. He worked with our team in the planning stages to set up floorplans, limit staff interactions, and assess and mitigate potential risks. On the two-day shoot, he was omnipresent to enforce social distancing, mask use, disinfect surfaces, set up CDC-compliant signage, take temperatures, administer health questionnaires, and much more. He and the team noted how comforting it can be for the entire crew to have an expert with safety top-of-mind. Even just his presence, some noted, acted as a reminder to make sure their masks were positioned properly, and that they were at a safe distance from their colleagues on the set.

Young put it this way: “You want to instill confidence. You want them to know that they can get back to work in a safe way. We all have a job to do, and we all want to fulfill it, but there’s a time and a place. It’s going to be uncomfortable for a while in this world, in our industry. But once we get a routine down, and it becomes second nature, we can all start making beautiful art together again.”

In interviewing Young about the shoot and his experience, one comment was particularly revealing. He noted that yes, we are in the middle of a pandemic and there are very lofty safety precautions in place right now, but that even before this, many of these precautions could or should already have been in place as routine disease control and safety measures.

He recounted countless times he’d witnessed talent or crew, whether for a commercial or a show, face unsafe or unsanitary conditions during a shoot. Safety was an afterthought. Perhaps these circumstances will help us prioritize safety in the future, beyond the pandemic.

He also noted that the current situation could help us rethink the structure of shooting. Some shoots can last 10 or more hours a day, which can be a grind for the crew and talent. Sometimes it’s necessary, and sometimes there are alternatives. Right now, Craig limits shoot days to a shorter number of hours, for safety reasons, and noted that having to do this can provide a framework for shorter, more efficient sessions after the pandemic ends, as well. The current situation shows that great content can still be created with shorter days, and stricter constraints, which ultimately can help reduce costs.

Lastly, Craig recommends that filmmakers take an online course about COVID safety on set.

3. Approaches to Scripting and Storytelling

Sometimes constraints are restrictive, and sometimes they can actually expand our ways of seeing. Young noted that limitations on the number of people who can be on set, on stage, etc. can help writers and directors think differently. They can approach questions about what is essential to the story or scene in new and creative ways, which has the potential to expand our approaches to storytelling rather than reduce them.

A recent interview as part of Queerty’s Queerantine video series.

So, although it can be difficult to find the positive amidst all of this chaos, this could be a helpful lesson for all of us that spans well into the future.

For information on working with us to create LGBTQ video content, please feel free to reach out.

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LGBTQ consumers are highly loyal to supportive brands. Navigating this dynamic space takes expertise, and we’re here to help. Using both our heads and our hearts, we create meaningful touchpoints and a true relationship between you and the LGBTQ community.