The U.K.’s National Film and Television School (NFTS) has successfully returned to production with some 60 films of varying lengths and genres, including graduation films, being shot since courses resumed in June.
The first test project to shoot trialling the U.K.’s COVID-19 production guidelines was the short “Our Love Is Here To Stay,” which looks at the practicalities of production in the time of coronavirus, and gets across its safety-first message in a light-hearted manner. It was shot on Stage One at the NFTS facilities in Beaconsfield.
Richard Lingard, course leader for assistant directing and floor managing at the NFTS, said there was some initial nervousness about going back into production. “The more we thought about it from the faculty level, the more we realized that it would be unfair to put students through something we haven’t done ourselves,” Lingard told Variety.
To instil confidence, the faculty, including heads of department, tutors and staff, all of whom have considerable industry experience, worked alongside students.
The faculty team that served on “Our Love Is Here To Stay,” included NFTS fiction direction tutor Michael Hoffman (“The Last Station”), who directed the short; co-head of cinematography Oliver Stapleton (“Ned Kelly”); and head of editing Richard Cox (“Gentleman Jack”).
“One of the challenges of COVID-19 is that, psychologically, it is something that people have never been through,” NFTS head of production Annalise Davis told Variety. “It brings out different responses in people. Some people don’t want to leave the house and others think it’s fine and ‘what’s the problem?'”
Davis said her objective was to chart a “calm, considered course” through all the shoots. “We’re moving forward; we’re making these films in a safe way, while still being ambitious with them.”
Mireia Gonzalez, studying for the assistant directing and floor managing diploma at the NFTS, also worked on the test shoot. “Of course there was a bit of excitement/insecurity because of COVID-19, but we were all very distanced and wearing PPE, so it felt like a really safe environment,” Gonzalez told Variety.
“It was so magical to be creating something again,” said Hoffman. “I hope the film suggests that everything is possible if we pay attention and work together mindfully with a unified sense of purpose.”