We continue our Guest Blog series on ‘Working in 2020’, speaking to our industry friends about how Covid has affected working life across the Film, TV, and Advertising industries.
We chatted with Isusko Garcia, a 1st Assistant Director working on TV commercials, online content and music promos. Isusko is also behind the hugely popular Film Gods podcast, a weekly discussion with various crew about their roles and how they got into the industry.
What were your plans for 2020 career wise and how has covid affected them?
2020 wasn’t going to be a springboard year it was going to be a “carry on doing what I was doing” year. I had planned to maintain and strengthen relationships at work, have some fun shooting and maybe make a few new contacts along the way.
The lockdown impacted me, as it did almost the rest of the globe, with a big slap of reality that shook our society’s foundations and made me realise how fragile our lives are/were. As an industry, we were not forced to close by the Government, and a few shoots took place via Zoom with very small crews. The industry bodies and some individual crew members created the best working guidance procedures to allow us to get back to work, which was a very welcome outcome after a few months of not being on set.
Have you been working since the industry has been back up and running?
The first few pencils began to come in the end of May and I’ve been on set most weeks now since the beginning of June.
How have you found the processes and measures put into place to keep you safe at work? Has anything worked amazingly well or not at all?
Filming commercials you tended to stick 20 people in an average-sized kitchen to film a sausage cooking. The measures have helped to create a safer working environment but it differs from production to production. It differs from the amalgamation of different crew members with their own different views on the pandemic and some sets have felt a lot safer than others.
As crew members, we never know what type of job we are going onto and in commercials, we are not being regularly tested, like they are on feature films. That can and has added a level of stress, to what was an already stressful place.
Keeping 2m apart can be tricky but most crews are respectful of each other. We all want to work and being on different sets with hundreds of different people each week could be a lot more daunting if we weren’t adhering to the protocols.
Have any of these new processes made work life easier for you?
Most of the procedures that pop into my head as I type this haven’t made life easier, but they have aimed to make them as safe as possible. For example, close contact workers need to increase PPE as they are breaking the 2m for an extended period of time which isn’t comfortable or easy to work with but helps protect them. Working out room capacities and managing workflow to maintain a safe working environment has made life harder, made shoots longer, but there is a point to them, which most people appreciate.
Has this year shifted your career focus?
I can’t say it has. Some crew who were going to springboard this year have taken the step back but it has made me realise that 100% income coming from one revenue stream can make you vulnerable. I always try to make 5 and 10-year plans, which gives me something larger to work towards so the micro of the week to week are stepping stones to that end goal.
You learn a lot of life lessons on film sets, I think. You have your plan for the day, but it very rarely goes as smoothly as you’d hope. Being booked on jobs on a week-to-week basis the threat of no work always looms over us, so a two-month hiatus with no work on the horizon is something that we are hardened to – that being said, you never truly get used to it.
What are your goals for the new year?
Keep being able to provide for my family and writing a kids book that I came up with during lockdown. I got carried away from April to June with a podcast I started in January of this year called the Film Gods. It filled my time talking to crew members across the call sheet to hear their story of how they got in, what they do and advice to their younger self. I would love to carry that on into 2021 and try and get to 200 episodes (currently at 96, but a busy few weeks has stopped the flow).
I have tried to find the positives from 2020 and for me, personally – once the panic of paying bills subsided, I was able to have extended paternity leave, which is time that was very precious. Being on set from 7am-9pm most days means that bath time is a quick FaceTime whilst a camera is moving position or a set is being lit. It brought our little pocket of Surrey closer together and its built friendships locally that have lasted past the lockdowns.
Lets see what 2021 brings.
Check out Isusko’s website.