Social Distance Success: Members Working Through COVID-19

Our community is finding creative ways to keep working during COVID-19. Let us know how you're adapting your skills right now.
| By Lilly Joynes
Our community is finding creative ways to keep working during COVID-19. Let us know how you're adapting your skills right now. Send your stories, photos, and videos to
  • Hari Khalsa, Production Coordinator, Sockeye
  • Alicia J. Rose, Director/Editor/Photographer
  • Chris Crever, Owner, Cine Rent West
  • Lily Mehallick, Filmmaker/Actress/Writer
  • Tiffany Lindquist, Rental Coordinator, Gearhead Grip & Electric
  • Sally Spaderna, Koerner Camera Systems
  • Chad Parker, Executive Producer, Always Outdoors
  • Kristina Haddad, Actress/Acting Coach, The Actors Lab
  • Eve White, Hair & Makeup Artist / Wardrobe Stylist



On May 8 we had a relatively straightforward footwear product shoot for Columbia with no talent. As a safety precaution, we scaled down to a skeleton crew of 4 people—director, DP, grip/gaff, and DIT—with client and producers off-site. Each crew member had their own monitor to keep space from each other. We had a livestream on a laptop set up in front of one of the monitors so our client could check in remotely at any time and give feedback as needed. This seemed to work well. Pacific Grip & Lighting’s space worked really well for our crew. The studio space was large enough so that our crew of 4 could keep proper distance from one another. Each crew member was assigned their own bathroom which was a huge help. Chelsea [Speakman] from PGL was very diligent about working closely with us to prepare the space in advance and make sure everything was properly disinfected, and that there was clear signage. The crew struggled a little with having to use different doors assigned to different people, since some were a bit inconvenient. They ended up propping one door to the studio open, which seemed to solve that problem. We provided full PPE (face shields, gloves, hazmat suits, foot covers, with crew bringing their own masks) and required it to be worn at all times. Wearing full PPE slowed down our shoot by about 15% efficiency, so that's something we'll keep in mind in planning future shoots during this time. We also created a Safety Protocols document to share with the team that outlined all of the specific measures we'd be taking on set. Much of that was pulled from the working OMPA doc that Joe Meade shared with us. That was incredibly helpful. Huge thanks to the OMPA for pulling all of those thoughts together in one place!


We received feedback from our crew that it would've been helpful to have multiple different kinds of gloves for the shoot available, since it seems like they were ripping way more frequently than expected. For example, the grip/gaffer could have used thicker, more durable gloves while DP needed something a bit more nimble. At the end of the day, safety needs to be the number one priority and it was awesome to realize that we can execute a successful shoot without sacrificing safety measures. Feel free to reach out with any questions about our shoot. I'm more than happy to chat about what we've learned throughout this process.




What is your normal industry role? I am a freelance director/editor/photographer and own/operate a boutique production company to support my work.

How have you adapted your role for COVID-19? I’ve had to become very creative and DIY to keep things flowing. Adapting locations, or becoming a one woman band to accommodate shooting something. Using the technology at my hands to create (Zoom, Canon 5d, my iPhone) vs. a crew. Project managing from a distance plus a lot of long talks with my producer Lara Cuddy and clients on how we come back from this better and stronger. I just made a last-minute suite of 3 spots for Multnomah County Judicial candidate Sonia Montalbano. Those went from a small crew with multi locations pre-COVID to just me, my 5D, and her 10 feet away in my backyard using an iPhone for audio perched on a nearby log. She came in through my back fence—it was a no contact shoot! No frills but they looked great and she was really happy with the results.

What are you working on now? My first feature film, A Kaddish For Bernie Madoff, wrapped principal production in late fall, and now we are an inch away from picture lock, and in getting into full swing with our entire post team—animation, VFX, sound design, music, and eventually color. This is so far the funnest part, because after months of editing and feedback we are really getting to polish it up with so many talented collaborators’ magic touches. I just made a music video for my own band, Party Witch, using Zoom and free video loops that came out kind of amazing. I had to embrace the crap production value and I had to be the talent! My bandmate and I both “shot” it using our computers during band practice, I directed and edited. It is literally the lowest budget video I have ever made—and we just received a free box of makeup swag from KVD Vegan Beauty cause they noticed us wearing their lipstick(!!!). SUCCESS.
How are you getting new work? Mostly by word of mouth. Slowly but surely new projects with clients I had pre-COVID are emerging with adjusted needs, but I hope the spirit of that work I’m doing while in quarantine will blossom into more creatively approached, safe, and small-crew work as we roll back into this new reality.
What is an opportunity you’re seeing amidst the crisis? Creative thinking and DIY production is where it’s at for the foreseeable future. I think if you can work nimbly and find new and safe ways to capture the action there is definitely opportunity. As the government “stimulus” money and loans start to hit, big and small business people will be looking to spend it on advertising—especially as things roll back to life in weird social phases. Also, directing over Zoom is a thing now... So that!
What is the service you provide?
Cine Rent West is the largest soundstage production facility in the Pacific NW. Centrally located in the NW Industrial District, we offer a 50x60x20 feet 3 wall cyc, 20 feet floor to grid, sound proof space, a second insert stage, LED, tungsten lighting and grip package, production office, greenroom, lunch room, conference room, professional kitchen with two parking lots plus plenty of free street parking.
How have you adapted your services to COVID-19?
We have partnered with MeyerPro, who specialize in audio-visual broadcast solutions. Together, we built a turnkey set in the studio, ready to go with a four camera set-up, live streaming capabilities, and content switching. We now have these four unmanned cameras that are tied back to a switcher across the studio. We can have one or two people on camera at a time with social distancing measures in place. It's a great set up for educators, influencers, and non-profits who wants a high-quality production to speak to their audience, classroom or peers. We are also ready for product shoots. We are operating with a very lean team who can be on site but in a different space than the production, available as needed while creating distance. MeyerPro has developed shifts of three crews that work together constantly so they are not intermingling with other crews. They are the only ones to touch their equipment including TV, cabling/wiring, cameras, switching.
The TEDx Portland Year 10 event was to be held at Cine Rent West before being postponed due to COVID-19.

What safety protocols have you put in place?
We are doing a lot of cleaning particularly of high touch areas like bathrooms and door handles. We replace props and couches between productions and have plenty of hand sanitizer on set. We are only using boom mics not lavaliers on talent. Talent has been doing their own makeup. We review the safety protocols with client, crew and new people to enter the space so everyone knows how we're going to keep clean and safe. We designate specific bathrooms for certain folks to use. Clients have two bathrooms and crew has two bathrooms. The kitchen space is available to the clients, only used by the clients, cleaned between clients and also available as a shooting location. We can also utilize different entry points to the stage for different folks to minimize potential exposure across the space.
What is an opportunity you’re seeing amidst the crisis?

We have a large, versatile space and this is our opportunity to showcase that. We have multiple options to create adequate traffic flow in order to maintain proper social distancing. Entry and exit points, client/greenroom spaces and bathrooms and can utilize this space well amidst this crisis. The size and layout allow us to be very flexible, which gives us the opportunity to demonstrate that now.

We look forward to welcoming shoots to our space in a safe and consistent manner!



What is your normal industry role?

I’m an actress based in Portland and have been on sets for music videos, Facebook Watch shows, and many local short films. However, my goal is to write and direct films.

How have you adapted your position for COVID-19?

I have recently adapted my position during quarantine by doing at-home acting gigs.

What are you working on now?

I recently shot an at-home commercial for Facebook Messenger. Right now I just invested in a new camera and I have been editing my films I shot before the COVID-19 outbreak to post on YouTube (Lily Beyond Borders).

How are you getting new work?

Through my agent, I am getting new work for acting and I have been reaching out to businesses asking if they are offering remote internships. I’m keeping my social media current and my acting profiles updated on several platforms.

What is an opportunity you’re seeing amidst the crisis?

I’m seeing an opportunity amidst the crisis to spend more quality time with family, reflecting/meditation, and time to get things done that I normally wouldn’t have been able to do. Like write an entire novel (64,000+ words) in 2 weeks!



What is your normal industry role?

Gearhead is a Grip, Electric, and Production rental house serving the Pacific Northwest. Most of our clientele are commercial or feature projects with events, short films, stills shoots, and every other kind of project you can imagine filling in the gaps.

How have you adapted your operations for COVID-19?

Gearhead is currently open by appointment only. We have successfully enacted a no-contact pick up and return policy and are taking precautions to sterilize gear as it enters and leaves the facility. The shop is well-stocked with disinfectant, masks, and gloves. Unfortunately, the keg is off-limits for the time being!

Need a quote? Email or call 503-542-3990.

What are you working on now?

Currently we are sending out the occasional rental, selling lots of seamless, and getting that long overdue inventory completed.

How are you getting new work?

Here at Gearhead we have put together a full-service remote tabletop product studio. We have cameras, sliders, infinite lighting options, turntables, and every color of Savage seamless for your backdrop. We even have professional crew on tap to take care of the whole process for you. Directing the shoot can even be done remotely over streaming if you want. All that’s missing is your product. Email or call 503-542-3990 to line up your next remote product shoot!

What is an opportunity you’re seeing amidst the crisis?

We’ve all seen the Portland Community coming together to support and uplift each other. Hopefully, this kind of collaboration and support continues once we get back to “normal”.

What services do you offer? We rent cinema cameras and specialty lenses to Pacific NW productions of all sizes. Our cameras were working on Chad before production had to shut down. We also provide a lot of low-cost and in-kind camera packages to local independent filmmakers.

How have you adapted your operations for COVID-19? Both our Portland and Seattle offices are open by appointment only. We’re adding a lot of safety precautions for our staff and the gear. We only allow two people per prep bay at a time, there are restrictions on bringing your own gear into the shop, limiting face-time to under 10 minutes.
We were also sad to cancel our annual Lens Summit. But we were able to reformat it as a weekly virtual event. People are really loving it! So far we’ve had Canon, Fujinon, ARRI, and bandpro. You can see who we’ll have on next at It’s free on Instagram Live every Friday at 10!

What is an opportunity you’re seeing amidst the crisis? Having the Lens Summit virtually has definitely opened it up to more people. The projects we’re renting to are also different. We have a Nike staff photographer taking product photos in their garage, small crews making films while social distancing on set.
What is your normal industry role?
We create short-form content via client-direct and agencies
What are you working on now?
We just finished a series of films called The Homebound Ranger, which offers some perspective as we all cope with shelter-in-place. The series follows a man dedicated to roaming the great outdoors, who suddenly finds himself shuffling around the house. See spot #3 below, and watch all three shorts here.

How did you adapt your production to be able to shoot those films?
As professionals who rely on film production for a living, and in discussion with the Oregon Media Production Association, we determined it was appropriate to begin establishing procedures to do production safely. This way, once the executive order lifts, crews can go back to work.
We waited until after the curve had begun to flatten to have our shoot, and we operated within the distancing guidelines set forth in the Oregon executive order.
After much discussion, the team settled on the following crew positions: Director/DP, Producer/Talent, 1st AC/Playback/Media Wrangler, Grip/Gaffer, and Location Sound.
We aimed to keep everything close to home and leverage digital tools to limit exposure during pre-production. We used virtual location scouting and sourced props and wardrobe from our own homes. Read the whole process here.
How are you getting new work?
A lot of the clients I’m talking with are still trying to figure out what this economy is and how to position themselves for their own clients. Everything I’m seeing is reactionary at this point and usually once a direction has been decided something changes that causes us to scrap the entire campaign.
What is an opportunity you’re seeing amidst the crisis?
It’s very hard for me to frame anything during this as an "opportunity," but I have a hope. I hope as we come out of this we change the way production has been handled from top to bottom. When we’re no longer just worried about making our shots in a 10-hour day due to an invisible threat…things will have to change.
We have an opportunity nobody asked or planned for to recreate a process that protects crews, clients and talent both physically and financially. Again…that’s a hope. Time will tell.



We are grateful that the Actor's Lab Classes in Portland are continuing and are now being held online. Class includes a weekly Zoom group class and individual one-on-one sessions. We are getting a lot of work done!!! Actors are honing their craft and continuing with career goals. It's been a powerful way to connect and support each other.



How are you adapting how your work?

There is no way for me to put makeup on someone and be safe, so I’m working remotely and getting creative. People are still getting in front of the camera and still want to look good! I’m now offering one-on-one consultations with clients via Zoom, FaceTime, or Instagram to guide individuals through the process of applying their own camera-ready makeup.
I have clients take a photo of the makeup and brushes they own so I know what they have to work with. If they need more products, I can make a list for them to order or do the online shopping for them. The biggest innovation I’ve brought to my work is basing the lessons on face geometry and ensuring I instruct based on an individual’s face shape. My clients are drawing lines on their face as instructed and I draw the same set of lines on my face so that I can clearly instruct how to apply makeup. This is not something you can just watch on any makeup video! I’m providing guidance specifically for the individual just like I would do in person. Then we practice, I take screenshots during the process, they take notes, and then when they’re ready for the screen, they start fresh and are ready to go with muscle memory and visual references.

What are you working on?

I’ve worked with teachers preparing for online teaching, fashion designers who are wearing their own product for their product shoots, and a band that is creating a music video.

How are you getting new work?

I’ve definitely been called straight out of the OMPA directory before. That happens regularly. Now I’m also finding work through Instagram and the tutorials I’m offering there.

What is an opportunity that you’re seeing amidst this crisis?

I am opening up my field to new audiences and potential clients. Teachers who are being watched all week are reaching out to me to learn how to do their makeup. I’ve never worked with teachers before!
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