The moment you say, “How has it been?” in conversation, it’s obvious you’re asking about one thing: COVID-19. It doesn’t really matter who you’re talking to – not even film director Philip Stevens.
Mr Stevens is a director, writer and film producer at Urban Apache Film. He also works in theatre and teaches at the University of Lincoln as a senior lecturer.
His films include ‘The Knock’, which was awarded best U.K. short film at the Nottingham International Film Festival, and a feature-length documentary called ‘The Road to Rome’, narrated by Sir Ian McKellen.
“It’s been strange and a lot of getting used to,” Mr Stevens said. “The weekends we just stay in.”
In the arts industry, people are still stuck on pause.
Nuffield Southampton Theatres and Lincoln’s Drill Hall were two casualties. Global revenue for cinema has had an estimated drop of 66% according to research and accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“Obviously, there have been quite a few ups and downs in my industries,” said Mr Stevens. “I mean theatre especially was really kind of kicked very hard and is still being kicked incredibly hard.”
In the time of the pandemic, most adults were spending an average of up to four hours a day online, OFCOM announced in June. Many of these were actors and actresses looking for support.
A search for arts fundraisers yields multiple pages set up to help pay casts and crews, and keep venues open.
For Mr Stevens, initial good fortune turned sour.
His filmmaking career gave him an opportunity to work with the BBC, but changes to make the process COVID-19 safe meant he’d be away from family and out of pocket, due to higher insurance costs.
“That’s a massive added cost that a lot of low-budget or smaller-budget indie productions for film or TV or the web just can’t afford,” Mr Stevens said.
Luckily, a new full-length feature film of his is currently in post-production.
On silver linings, Mr Stevens said there are ways to work around restrictions and still produce art and entertainment: “There are going to be a lot of people willing to give people an opportunity that perhaps they wouldn’t have done before. This has broken a chain of normality.”