Television in the time of coronavirus is going to start to look drastically different. While many TV and film productions across the world have shut down out of abundance of caution for the spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, some shows have forged ahead. Most of those ongoing productions are animated shows, with most of the moving parts of animated series (voice acting, animation, etc.) allowing staff and actors to complete their work virtually.
But live-action TV and movies are a different story, with actors and crew only able to shoot in close quarters for extended periods of time. However, the CBS drama All Rise is finding a way to navigate around that, with a virtually produced episode that will be shot entirely from home. The episode will, fittingly, be about coronavirus.
Deadline reports that the CBS legal drama All Rise, which is produced by Warner Bros. TV and CBS TV Studios, is returning to production with an episode that is being written and filmed extensively over FaceTime, Zoom, and other virtual technologies. The episode will be influenced by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and will focus on the effects of social distancing on the criminal justice system, as well as the characters’ personal lives.
The episode is currently written and will be shot by the cast and crew over FaceTime, Zoom, WebEx, and available social media and online technology. Virtual footage will be shot in each of the series regular’s homes, with producers planning to use VFX to create the backgrounds. A cinematographer operating solo from a vehicle will also capture exterior footage of the empty streets and neighborhoods of Los Angeles amid the coronavirus pandemic. Executive producer Michael Robin will direct the episode.
“It’s a unique chance for our All Rise family to band together – in our different homes, even cities – to tell a story about resilience, justice and the power of community,” executive producer Greg Spottiswood said.
Here is the synopsis of the episode:
In the episode, after debating the merits of continuing their work during this time, Judge Benner (Marg Helgenberger) authorizes Lola to preside over a virtual trial that involves a dispute between brothers and a stolen car. Emily (Jessica Camacho) represents the defendant, a graffiti artist, and Mark (Wilson Bethel) prosecutes for the D.A.’s office, marking the first time he tries a case in Lola’s “court.” Also, Mark and Quinn (Lindsey Gort) continue to explore their romantic (and sexual) relationship while quarantined in separate homes; Judge Benner oversees court from afar and struggles to learn how to cook; and Sara (Lindsay Mendez) has to balance her day job with a new side hustle as a food delivery driver. Luke (J. Alex Brinson) and Emily’s relationship is taxed by separation, and germaphobe and type-A Sherri (Ruthie Ann Miles) contends with the new world (dis)order.
It’s certainly a timely and game-changing way to film a television show, especially a network TV drama. While Screenlife films are an emerging trend — films that are shot or shown exclusively through mobile or computer screens like Searching and Unfriended — they’re mostly done as a gimmick and not out of public health concerns. But All Rise is smartly tapping into a topical subject by strictly abiding by, and highlighting, social distancing rules. It’s just the latest major production to release new material during the coronavirus pandemic, following Disney’s animated Frozen Olaf shorts, but it’s the one that potentially has the most repercussions for how the TV landscape could operate for the next few months.
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