December 7, 2020

Panavision: Back to Work

Cinematographers Deepa Keshvala, James Rhodes, Robbie Ryan, BSC, ISC and Nanu Segal share their on-set experiences since returning from lockdown.

Photographed by Robbie Ryan, BSC, ISC, Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace streamed to a ticketed online audience as a one-time-only event on Thursday, July 23. The feature-length performance is among a host of projects that have rolled camera since the motion-picture industry began to reemerge from the lockdowns imposed earlier this year in an effort to quell the global spread of COVID-19.

Panavision and its family of companies have implemented updated, region-specific policies and procedures to provide a safe experience for clients and employees — policies that continue to be revised in accordance with evolving local regulations. “I’ve felt very reassured by all the health and safety practices that have been put in place,” cinematographer Nanu Segal shares. “I was able to do my research and prep over the phone. I had the customary fantastic service, just not in person.”

“Panavision have been super-efficient and safe,” cinematographer Deepa Keshvala agrees, “and the kit arrives having been disinfected.” Once on set, she adds, “Everyone is being strict about not touching each other’s kit, and everyone is very much doing their job super-diligently.”

“All the cleaning protocols and temperature checks certainly redefine the working process on set,” Segal notes, “but the two things that have had the most impact for me have been social distancing and wearing a mask. With the whole crew in masks, communication on set is definitely challenging. I don’t usually use a headset, but on grip Johnny Donne’s advice, I decided to give it go. The headsets turned out to be invaluable, allowing us to communicate easily while maintaining social distance.

“Taking care of the actors, who aren’t in PPE, is a real priority,” Segal continues. “I have to be constantly mindful about how I work, rethinking how I carry out basic tasks near an actor, like taking an incident light reading or making small adjustments in composition or lighting.”

All things considered, cinematographer James Rhodes says that his recent experiences, including concert-style productions for Laura Marling and Lianne La Havas, “haven’t felt a million miles away from the normal thing to me. Everyone’s wearing masks and being a little bit more space-conscious, there’s a bit more hand sanitizer, but otherwise, it’s kind of the same thing. For both of the concerts, we were lucky to have an enormous venue, so everyone could keep in their own areas. The room sizes were smaller for [a recent] commercial, though, so we were constantly managing how many people were in the room. You’re definitely more conscious of proximity to each other.”

Read more post-pandemic stories from Panavision here.