Do you need production payroll?
Erin Pearson
Erin Pearson
March 26, 2020

We are about a week into the government ordered lockdown of California and New York that is supposed to last two weeks, but may extend beyond that as other cities and states are starting to lockdown as they continue to monitor the situation. Everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, many people are out of work and none of us know how long this will last or just how much financial assistance the government will be able to provide if this does go on long term. There is news of a stimulus package that will help a lot of people throughout the US, but we might not see those checks until May and unemployment is only marginally helpful, though temporary updates have been made due to the coronavirus. So what do we do? How can we take responsibility for our bills and other financial needs at this time when we aren’t allowed to leave the house? What can we do to keep this problem from going from bad to worse? I have some ideas to run past you. Hear me out.

Remote work

I’ve noticed a trend. Disney+ released Frozen 2 early and other select films are moving up their streaming releases, educational apps and websites have offered free or reduced rates, artists have started YouTube channels to teach kids to draw while they are home and bored, several film festivals that have cancelled or postponed their events have now figured out a way to give online access to some of the short films and local delivery services are popping up for the safety and wellbeing of as many people as possible and to stop the spread of COVID-19.

What if the entertainers and entrepreneurs of the world are now it’s saving grace? Not necessarily to cure or end the coronavirus pandemic, but to help educate, entertain and bring people closer together in a time when we are all so far apart. What could we add or improve on? How can we utilize the next few months to make the world a better place? Or ensure that we can hit the ground running when this thing is over? Maybe it’s not just sickness and chaos that COVID-19 has brought our way, but opportunity. An opportunity to re-set, re-charge, re-frame and re-invent. Forcing ourselves to find the “cans” in a seemingly endless list of “can’ts” inspires truly unique and often successful ideas. What do you have access to right now, in your home, that you could use to make a short film? Or even creative ways to market the film you were working on before suspending production?

Obviously, video content is challenging when we aren’t supposed to leave the house under penalty of law, but maybe, let’s consider what we can do. We can write scripts. We can sell stock footage that we’ve already compiled or of things in our homes or visible from our balconies. We can animate. We can edit. We can storyboard. We can hone in our claymation skills or try it for the first time. We can do breakdowns and budgeting. We can learn something new (like how to invest in companies while their stocks are down). And we can innovate. For the next weeks to months, we have a captive audience who is desperate for entertainment and education. BBC just made a request for scripts about self-isolation to turn into short films. Schools are closed for, possibly and probably the remainder of the school year. How can we help unprepared parents homeschool their children? Do you have any creative ideas to bring communities together (figuratively)? How can we entice people to stay in their homes so we can flatten the curve of COVID-19?

What does remote filming look like?

In certain aspects, this would seem like an oxymoron. Of course, there are things that can easily transition from an office to your kitchen table, but other things, not so much.

I have recently been inspired by ideas like Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Hit Record. Hit Record is a collaboration of creators who come together (mostly online) to create short films, music, and other creative content. It’s a brilliant idea and relatively simple. Some of you may want to look into signing up and collaborating with the creators who are already well established in that network. Maybe some of you can make contact with others you have worked with in the past to dream up your own social distancing filmmakers workforce. Most people have smartphones, right? What if someone wrote a creative script and walked an actor through their own camera work and lighting? (I don’t know, you’re the one with all the ideas!) Jimmy Fallon is even creatively stumbling through putting on the Tonight Show from his home with his family. And, dare I say, I kind of like it better. There’s something to be said about simplicity in creativity and real-life moments that can’t be scripted.

So now that I have you all 100% on board with this plan of creating content in our jammies...

Are you looking for work?

Are you a film editor? Are you an animator? Storyboard artist? Web designer? Writer? Color grader? Do you have a recording studio? Or are you looking to hire someone who could work remotely?

Comment down below with your contact information and start collaborating with like-minded individuals in the film industry!

Do you need financial assistance?

California Unemployment or visit your state’s website for information on applying for unemployment benefits.

Entertainment Industry Foundation

SAG-AFTRA relief fund

Will Rogers relief fund

Pay Up Hollywood

Motion Picture and Television Fund

Actors Fund

Recording Academy

The Foundation for Contemporary Arts

Equal Sound

More resources. This link contains all the current assistance options in California. Check your local and state governments for other assistance programs.

About Topsheet

Topsheet is an entertainment tech company specializing in production payroll. We service clients from commercials for Fortune 500 to feature films. We are born in technology, built with filmmakers in mind.


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