As part of Tech Week, we have invited a number of local creatives to write about how technology has influenced or impacted their creative practice. For this Tech Week blog, Martha from Paper Boat Documentaries tells us about how Covid-19 forced them to change the way they work.
The worldwide changes caused by COVID-19 have dramatically impacted businesses across multiple sectors. Before 23 March 2020, we had spent three years creating video content for a very diverse range of businesses and brands. We had filmed in restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, barbershops, festivals, music concerts, elderly care homes, football stadiums and more. As lockdown commenced, the filming locations we had taken for granted were suddenly no longer accessible and many of the companies we had previously worked with were, and continue to be, severely affected.
Our business has also changed significantly over the last few months. A large proportion of our work for April, May and June was abruptly erased from our diary. Projects that we were part-way through filming were postponed. Several payments which we were expecting for the year ahead were either delayed, deferred or disappeared entirely.
As Maya Angelou famously said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude”. At the start of lockdown, trying to embrace a positive attitude with regards to how we could continue to work was a crucial first step for us. We strived to maintain communication with our clients, opening the dialogue about how we could potentially assist them. Through those conversations, we’re grateful that we’ve been able to support clients who have focused on boosting their online sales. We’ve re-edited previously filmed footage (filmed before lockdown) into fresh social media content and we’ve seen a demand for video clips which show products in a home environment - we feel fortunate that we’ve been able to film and edit these from the safety of ours.
As with most people, the routines we had before lockdown have been very disrupted. It was disorientating at first, but we decided to try to use the change to our advantage. In between moments of much-needed pause, we’ve been working on our existing skills and attempting to build new ones. Over these last few months, we’ve realised how much more is achievable with the resources we already have. Lockdown has allowed us the opportunity and time to trial new things and develop new ways to create. For example, an un-used green screen we had stored in the back of the cupboard has now had its moment to shine, with Simon using it to explore a new (or at least, new for us) style of product filming.
COVID-19 has forced many businesses to adapt and for a lot of us, we weren’t necessarily ready for it. It’s been deeply saddening for us to see how businesses have been adversely affected, but it has also been uplifting to see how many are successfully evolving through this. In particular, it’s clear that the pandemic has accelerated digital communication and content. Those who have stood out to us have been the businesses who have created innovative ways to operate and connect with their customers. Many companies have quickly adapted to increasing their social media output and it’s hard to imagine that changing anytime soon.
Before the pandemic began, adapting to change and evolving in our work has always been important. Our video production business has been through continuous micro-evolutions, in some shape or form, over the last three years. Positive evolutions have included offering new services, tailoring content for specific social media platforms, developing more efficient workflows or upgrading our equipment and software. Conversely, there have been times in the past where we’ve not evolved quickly enough in certain areas, resulting in missed opportunities and disappointments. Adapting to a changing world is not always easy; it requires motivation, perseverance and you need to be willing to overcome obstacles, make mistakes and learn from them. Perhaps for some businesses, the fast and furious need to adapt during this time and the subsequent evolution of their work could result in several positives, whether these are evident now or will become clearer down the line.
In terms of our work, we’re going to continue to try to adapt and to see how things evolve. Our plan is to be very careful as we slowly move to the next phase and evaluate filming in the outside world again, as there are a lot of variables to consider. We’re trying to face concerns about what the future holds as rationally as possible. It’s important that our clients can safely work with us in the ways they want to, creating the type of content that they want to. To do so, we will endeavour to do everything we can to put the right safety measures in place.
This pandemic has reminded us that change can happen at any time. Lockdown has had its monumental impacts, but it has also created an opportunity for some businesses, like ours, to re-evaluate. Life is going to be different for all of us for a while, but hopefully many of us are able to build upon what we’ve learnt from these changes. A lot of life is out of our control, but when you look closer, there are still many aspects that we can have agency over or adapt to better suit us. For some businesses, adapting might mean finding new ways to meet the needs of their target audience, for others it might mean pursuing an alternative work avenue. You could say that I’m adapting by writing this piece about adapting - considering the brief was to write about how our business has adapted to lockdown, I can’t imagine this writing opportunity presenting itself in any other circumstance, other than lockdown. It’s a new challenge which I’ve enjoyed, but it’s very likely that I’ve made some mistakes in the 959 words I’ve written. Hopefully, in the spirit of adapting and evolution, I will go on to learn from the lessons.
Tech Week is presented in partnership with South East Creatives and is an exploration of digital ideas in and around Folkestone.