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  • ollietristram

My Lockdown Experience

Oh, Coronavirus. You invisible bastard.

The pandemic has affected everyone in some way and the production industry along with other creative industries, was one of the worst hit. Most of the projects I typically work on are made by groups of people in small interior spaces; in other words, the ideal scenario for the virus to spread. It was inevitable that filming jobs would get cancelled, and if there are no filming jobs, there are no editing jobs.

For me, everything was fine and dandy up until around mid-March. I was working with my regular clients either remotely or in their offices half-joking about the impending pandemic. "So and so has a cough! He must have the virus!" Little did we know, he probably did.

Jobs booked in for April and beyond seemed less and less likely. Then the expected emails came in, "We need to postpone the edit. The shoot is up in air now." With that, my calendar became empty and no sign of paid work for the foreseeable future.

"It'll be fine," I thought, "the government are going to deliver an unprecedented support package to help us self-employed out, like they have done with the furlough scheme for full-time employees". I waited on tenterhooks for Rishi Sunak's announcement. Then one day, he approaches the stand. Thirty minutes later, I'm left unsure as to what was actually announced. Do I qualify? I've been self-employed for well over a year with a tax-return in hand, so it all should be okay, right? It wasn't. I'm one of the hundreds of thousands of self-employed workers in the UK that have fallen through the net and are not eligible for any government support. The reason being that, although having completed a tax return for 2018-19, that year my earnings were still more than 50% from full-time employment. It's very frustrating that they have taken a broad brush stroke when it comes to the self-employed and left a big chunk of us needing to cover a significant loss of earnings.

It wasn't all bad news though. I started to get the odd job pop in to my inbox from mid-April and I am so grateful for those clients still finding a way to outsource their work, including a fairly regular flow of video tours to edit for my brother's estate agency. Of course, the work I was able to complete over lockdown was not my usual filmed editing job. Most of it was re-purposing old footage; using stock photos and creating animations. Here's an example of something I created for FourFour Films; a product video for a medical consent app:

I was also able to use the downtime to really sink my teeth into editing and colour grading the short film I have been working on, A Change in Time. If it wasn't for lockdown, the whole post-production process on getting this film complete would have been much slower, as myself and the rest of the people involved have all been doing so for free in their spare time. It has been a great project to keep my skills fresh, in a time that would otherwise involve a lot of time sitting in my pants gaming (okay, I did this anyway).

As I write this in mid-July, things are still to return to normal, though a lot of my clients and colleagues are slowly starting to get back to it as their clients return to work. It has been uplifting to see social media posts of crews back on set and clients returning to offices, so I do have reassurance that the workflow will be picking up again soon. I am really excited to get back at it and most importantly, everyone I know is healthy and well.

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