Covid-19: Pushing Creatives to Think from Inside the Box
With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, many professionals have been left with many questions about what comes next. Businesses have been forced to close, resulting in the loss of jobs for millions including the entertainment industry. So, at times of total social isolation many wondered what is there to do? Fortunately, one of the biggest perks of being part of the entertainment business is the ability to think outside the box, or in this case of quarantine, from inside of it.
Creatives have utilized the power of the internet. Stepping into online platforms, many initiated collaborations on screenwriting projects through shareable documents, table reads via conference call, holding parties via Instagram live and hosting online interview segments. Benjamin Zidel, a New England based producer and admin of “Channel 14”, a PA and filmmaking job posting group on Facebook, became one of those creatives with a plan. Zidel quickly jumped into action on Facebook urging the “Film Fam” (film family) community to post their projects.
Sure enough, within minutes the community overwhelmingly responded by sharing projects they’ve written, directed and starred in. The trick Zidel was hiding under his sleeve? To create an online film festival! “The New England Quarantine Festival” described as “The first and hopefully only Quarantine Online Film Festival, a welcoming space where all can gather to experience the local storytelling talent this region has to offer.” Benjamin Zidel curated the festival which received over 160 entries in total. It’s split up on two playlists, one on YouTube and one on Vimeo. As he explains “Not everyone’s art is in the same place, so I was hoping to do my best to consolidate them for the easiest viewing experience.” And of course, its needless to say that this festival is open to the general public, so anyone can access it to support and appreciate their fellow filmmakers while holding their spirits high in this time of seclusion.
On how he came up with the idea, Zidel responded “The idea was that a lot of entertainment workers are now sitting at home not creating, how could we be useful with this time? So, the premise was to collect as much local New England talent as possible, assemble their work in one place so with this newly found time on our hands, we can get familiar with the creators around us.” He also hopes that this festival leads people to “connect once quarantine ends [so] we can see some new beautiful work come of the collaborations.” And when it comes to the actions taken in the community Zidel hopes “the community sticks together, help when we can be by donating goods or volunteering to pertinent causes or simply sharing funny videos to distract us. [ And to] search inside ourselves about why storytelling is important to us. Let this time be made useful by expressing gratitude for things that may have [been] taken for granted. And maybe find an amazing story to tell from all of this.”
Quick, creative and decisive action such as Benjamin Zidel’s ingenious online film festival only shows that despite hardships, and moments in which time takes a halt, there is no need to forget our roots as creators; utilizing our gift of creativity to find productive pathways in the most unlikely places.