During WW2, families would huddle round the wireless of an evening to listen to the regular broadcast from their country’s leader. Being British, my frame of reference is yellowing photographs and cloudy black and white footage leaning in to listen to Chamberlain or Churchill – mum in her pinny, dad leaning forward with a pipe, a child or five on the floor. Images I’ve absorbed from decades of history textbooks, documentaries, and movie montage sequences. I’m sure most countries have an equivalent.
As I leaned in to listen to the latest of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s now daily press conferences, messaging my mum and LBB coworkers as it went, that image plopped into my brain, fully formed. ‘Huh,’ I thought. ‘It is a bit like that.’ (Not, I hasten to add, that I’m comparing de Pfeffel Johnson to Churchill.)
But while there are, indeed, similarities to be seen between the current Covid-19 pandemic that’s sweeping the world and other major events from our recent and more distant past, it is in so many ways novel and unprecedented. While different countries are at different points in their own coronavirus outbreak, we’re able to see it unfold in real-time, and we’re able to see the many personal stories and experiences directly and on the ground, thanks to social media. Many people are able to keep working from within the home, thanks to technology. We’re confused and paralysed by mixed messages and armchair experts, thanks to the rise of fake news. We’re able to learn from colleagues and friends who have already battled the disease at its peak – and we’re able to share insights and lessons with those in countries which are still at the very early stages of the outbreak.
It’s new and, for the team here at Little Black Book, that means we’ve had to think very carefully about how we approach coverage and support the industry as it faces the toughest, and fastest challenge in recent memory.
So I’d like to share our overall approach.
Helpful: our community is made up of an astounding mix of creative problem solvers, from all sides and sectors of the industry. That means that there is a huge knowledge bank to tap into about how to keep work flowing and how to find alternative solutions. We’ve already written and hosted articles exploring this and will continue to do so as the situation evolves. This is important. As Steve Davies at the APA shared with his members last week, one major advertiser had been considering stopping all production work until July but was able to take insight and suggestions on board and may, hopefully, be able to proceed with some projects. If there’s a solution or a new opportunity that we haven’t addressed so far then please get in touch with us. This is a time for creative companies to support each other.
In coming days we will be announcing measures and projects that we think will tangibly help our members and our readers.
We have already started talking to directors and producers around the world about keeping Production Diaries for us, to share the practicalities of making work in these strange times.
International: this crisis is both global and local. Different countries have taken different approaches, due to their culture, political situation and geography. It’s also been going on for nearly four months, with some countries settling into a ‘new normal’ and others only now bracing themselves. With that in mind we will continue our ‘think global, act local’ approach that has always informed our editorial. If you’ve got a local perspective from your own market that you think might inspire or educate your peers on other continents, again we’d like to hear from you.
We’ll also be announcing new ways to connect our community in real time, because wherever you are in the world we need to come together more than ever.
Future Facing: the pandemic will last for some time. I wish I could be more specific but you know as much as I do. However, it won’t last forever. It’s important to be future facing. This period of extensive working from home, a dramatic fall in travel, cancelled festivals and struggling clients will leave lasting marks on the business. Some will be profoundly sad and we will see some (hopefully a small number of) companies shut their doors and people will and already have lost jobs. Some will open up a new world of possibility as we unearth new skills and the world en masse adopts new behaviours, tools and technologies. We believe it's important to keep both of these things in mind and to talk about both.
Creative at Heart: I’ve left the best till last, of course. Which is that creativity, in all its forms, is and remains our rallying banner. It’s what keeps us going and what makes the team here love this idiosyncratic industry.
We want to shout about great work, exciting talent and inspirational ideas. And we’re broadening our scope and inviting people to talk about creativity in its purest sense. Creativity is not only a commercial advantage, it’s a personal joy and source of inspiration and hope.
To that end we’re announcing the LBB Film Club. We know many directors with new indie movies and short films have been disappointed to see film festivals shut down. Every day we’ll be profiling a short or feature film that you might have missed. After all, when everyone’s in lockdown it’s the perfect time to indulge in some creative soul food.
Finally, please know that the whole LBB team is thinking about how to help you all through this difficult time in whatever small way we can. We hope you are safe and well. And, while we may not be able to huddle together physically, let’s do it digitally.