Director Kevin MacDonald. Photograph: Michael Buckner/Deadline/Rex/Shutterstock
Who knows if cinemas will even be open in the autumn? Will coronavirus be the final nail in the coffin for the mass cinematic experience, or will people be desperate for it once this is over? Does the old model still work or will Netflix and the other streamers manage total domination over the next few months?
It was striking that Universal announced they were moving to stream new releases, having fought for years to keep that theatrical window open. I suppose they felt they had to in order to survive. My fear is this will be a devastating blow for a sector already under a lot of stress. Still, thank goodness for streaming, otherwise the film industry wouldnt have any sort of fallback.
I once made a film set in a sort of post-apocalyptic scenario [How I Live Now (2013)] and it seems people are now more drawn to watching movies that fictionalise this sort of situation. Perhaps they want to see their worst fears realised on screen then they become less frightening.
During the second world war, film-makers thought audiences would want escapism. In fact the most popular films of the period were war movies, which realistically reflected the drama happening every day.
Coronavirus is killing off the subjects of my film
Tammy TS Botkin, director of Legacy of the Fighting Filipinos
For the past 18 months Ive been working on a documentary about second world war veterans from the Philippines, racing against the clock to wrap before they all die without appropriate recognition.
Now, Covid-19 has taken aim at my subjects: elderly Filipino men and women who served in the US army but were denied benefits and citizenship by the US Congress in 1946. Some of the subjects of the film who are in lockdown have stopped responding.
Coronavirus has also shut down the final two scheduled shoots for the film, and donors have withdrawn support as they watch their portfolios take massive hits. Im unable to pay myself or my producer, Amanda Upson, which threatens to put us both out of our homes.
Freelance film-makers cannot access the stop-gap provided by unemployment benefits or the emergency funds provided by unions. We are many, and we are out of luck. Still, perhaps not so out of luck as the veterans in my film. Im worried for my livelihood; they for their lives.
Our income dipped 90% day-on-day
Kelly Jeffs, CEO of the Light House cinema, Wolverhampton
I run the only independent cinema in the black country, which also acts as a community hub. Our core business is our two screens, but we facilitate events like national conferences and vegan fairs, and host local health and wellbeing groups, including a singing group for lung health, a deaf group and a carers group.
The slowdown started on the weekend our big film was Military Wives, which would usually have our demographic queueing out of the door. But the screen was only about 10% full. Then when the government advised people to socially isolate, our income dipped 90% day-on-day.
We hung on as long as we could but were shutting up shop on Thursday. Weve had people in tears on the phone, worried we might never reopen. I feel like Im drunk all the time. This place has been running for 30 years and Ive been here 21. Weve already dodged lots of bullets and refocused. But this is really serious.
My hands were shaking from the stress and pressure
Im a woman in my late 20s who started working on set for a major studio in London in early January. The past few weeks have been a nightmare, from the stress of a two-hour commute on public transport to dealing with talent demanding I find them hand sanitiser
I also got a cold, which didnt shift. I knew people were gossiping about me, and a lot of people ridiculed me for being at work (this was before government guidelines suggested self-isolation). I had to take breathers outside as my hands were shaking from the stress and pressure.
It wasnt until 10pm on Sunday that we were told we werent now required and that we had had our last pay cheque. I am now left without a job, with bills and rent to pay. I could move in with a friend and share rent but Im not sure how that will work if we are in lockdown.
I cant now qualify for statutory maternity pay
My last job finished in November and I have spent the quieter winter months resting and enjoying early pregnancy, knowing that come March the industry should boom as usual and there will be work.
Come the end of February I had five weeks booked. Rather than having a full-time contract, Im employed as a daily, which is common for many of us in the costume department. All my work has been cancelled.
Since Boris Johnsons press conference on Monday, I am now considered a high-risk group. So do I earn while I still can or follow government guidelines and self-isolate for three months? I have 14 weeks left until my due date.
As I am self-employed I have to have worked 26 weeks to qualify for statutory maternity pay; I am currently two weeks short for this. This is my first baby and the usual fears are compounded by having no income and no prospect of the benefits Id anticipated.
Every month that passes costs my small business 70,000
Ben Rothwell, managing director, Bapty
The government must take into consideration the billions contributed to the economy by the UK film industry when addressing the fallout from coronavirus. We have gone from feast to famine overnight. I run a small production business with 10 full-time employees working on features and TV shows all now either on hiatus or cancelled. I have no income stream at all, my business rates are huge, and every month that goes by is going to cost me about 70,000.
I have kept all my staff on full wages as statutory sick pay will not allow them to pay the bills. I can only sustain this for so long before the business goes under. Without help our industry will not survive to be able to pick up where we left off.
I have no work and Im owed payment on 12 jobs
Michael Reynolds, treatment writer
I live in LA and Im a treatment writer for films, TV shows and commercials. Since last Friday, Ive seen an almost immediate shutdown of jobs. Directors at the top of the food chain who work regularly will be OK. But thats not the case for many.
For me, this sudden shutdown brings up issues both around future earnings and money already earned but not yet paid. Not to mention larger issues around worker rights and, frankly, my role, even if small, in feeding a rapacious capitalist system that also keeps me in business.
There are never contracts. So no legal protections and little recourse for non-payment. By and large, companies honour their commitments, but every now and again, one wont, and you have to accept that as part of the cost of doing business.
At present, Im owed payment on 12 jobs. And there is nothing legally I can do to induce companies to pay me. If they have closed their offices and no one is at accounting, they arent writing cheques. If theyve just seen future earnings dry up, I dont imagine many of them will be keen to send me (and others) money, even though it is for work Ive already done. It highlights the fragility of a freelance system that has no real regulation and no worker protection.
I was working on a documentary about the virus when I had to go into quarantine
Jesus Garces Lambert, director
I am a Mexican who has lived for the past 24 years in Rome. A couple of weeks ago, I was aware of the problem, but didnt believe we were about to become the epicentre of the pandemic.
A US production house commissioned me to make a documentary about the virus, and I was working on this when I was told someone I had been in contact with was infected. This meant going into strict quarantine.
The industry will collapse here in Italy. The worst thing is we still dont know when the wider crisis will end; I can see now military trucks transporting hundreds of bodies from the hospitals to be incinerated.
These are terrible times, but I am trying to respond positively. Speaking to friends in Mexico, I realised the low levels of consciousness about coronavirus over there, and the minimal government efforts. So I made a collective video-diary of expats explaining the impact.
Watch Netflix while you self-isolate but spare a thought for the people who made those shows
Jo Rae, owner of Kraken Films
I run a London film fixer company that organises film locations, production, crew and kit hire for overseas clients. Now all productions are on hold or cancelled. But as an industry we cannot work from home. That advice is near useless. Our offices are film studios, outdoor locations, meetings at agencies and clients offices. Ninety per cent of my team at any point will be freelance.
The public are told to take comfort in watching Netflix while self-isolating, but everyone who created this content has now had their livelihood put on hold. Most wont get sick pay or universal credit. Many are struggling to try to pay rent, let alone fighting over bog roll.
Its like we are living in a bad zombie pandemic movie. The irony is, we cant even be part of the production.