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Post NY Alliance Examines Industry Needs Beyond COVID

Post-production
(Image credit: Getty Images)

NEW YORK—While we await the final approval and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the question of what production will look like at all levels is front of mind for many. Will an all-remote setup take hold or will on-site work return once it is safe? A Post New York Alliance panel of industry professionals think rather than one or the other, the industry will be flexible based on the needs and logistics of productions, specifically for post-production.

In this week’s online panel, “Post Break: Remote Workflows, New Horizons,” the Post NY Alliance discussed how post-production professionals—represented by Andrew Bly, co-founder/CEO of the Molecule VFX; Diana Dekajlo, post-production supervisor; and Yana Collins Lehman, chairman of the PNYA board and president/COO of Trevanna Post—have adjusted to the remote realities, their pros and cons, and how they expect things to look in a post-COVID world.

RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE

Remote workflows were not entirely new for anyone in the broadcast industry when the pandemic broke out in March, but it did prompt a rapid increase in how much they rely on it. Post-production professionals may have been in an even better starting position.

Bly explained that Molecule had already been building up its remote capabilities in an effort to work with VFX artists outside of New York; remote work with clients was also already integral to the company’s setup. So when remote became the requirement, the work already done made it an easier transition. Rather than searching how to effectively provide everything needed, the biggest challenge was more about adjusting to office vs. work-from-home dynamics.

Similarly, Dekajlo was working on Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” around the start of the pandemic. The show was shot primarily in Berlin, but her team was still based in the U.S., so collaboration between the two locations already was a remote process. Dekajlo admitted that her job can be done essentially anywhere as long as there’s high speed internet.

What that remote capability allows for post-production teams to do is expand the field of who they can work with. Bringing in someone who is based across the country and paying for their travel and board to be on-site isn’t necessary, Dekajlo said. 

However, as Lehman pointed out, having post-production teams spread out all across the country could impact the finances for productions. States grant tax credits to productions that take place in their state and employ its citizens. If a production, for instance, wanted a New York state tax credit but had a good portion of its team working remotely out of state, that credit could be denied or even rescinded, Lehman detailed.

‘PEOPLE WANT TO BE TOGETHER’

There are other advantages to a remote post-production setup, the panelists explained. Security is one, as cloud-based security practices are often more secure and can be tracked as to who is accessing what content. Also, remote work is actually bringing more opportunities for positions, like Post PAs and apprentice editors as costs for rent or other on-site services go down and a budget can be redistributed to help handle different tasks.

However, despite these advantages, all of the panelists agreed that they don’t expect post-production to become an entirely remote operation. “People want to be together,” Lehman said. That may not mean working in an office everyday or from 9-5, but an office (maybe downsized) will be a part of future plans in some capacity.

For Bly, he expects Molecule to stay remote for most, if not all, of 2021. After that, he says it will likely be a mix of staff always working from home, both home and the office or always at the office.

It will also depend on the project, Dekajlo said. Different productions will weigh the balance between what the costs of working remotely vs. being on-site will be, as well as what that allows them to do creatively. But “flexibility is here to stay,” she said.

The full “Post Break: Remote Workflows, New Horizons” panel is available on-demand from the PNYA website