It’s lights, COVID, inaction: film industry prepares for life after lockdown

Headshot of Kellie Balaam
Kellie BalaamAlbany Advertiser
Orana Cinemas manager Memo Cardoza.
Camera IconOrana Cinemas manager Memo Cardoza. Credit: Laurie Benson

As our creators and performers are liberated after lockdown, the film industry is still suffering from the ravages of the coronavirus crisis.

Productions have stopped, cinemas have been closed, and major film festivals have been cancelled or postponed.

As the pandemic eventually slows down — as it has in WA — the full significance of how hard it has been on actors and filmmakers will become more evident.

This week, we spoke to emerging actor Luke J. Morgan, an Albany boy now based in Melbourne, about starring in his first feature film, The Xrossing.

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Touching on some of the difficulties of being an actor during COVID-19, Morgan said he was having trouble escaping it, especially in Melbourne.

He said he was impressed by the tenacity of the film industry and how everyone had taken the hits and kept working through it, with the help of many Zoom meetings.

With The Xrossing set for release later this year, he is now working on a family drama, with discussions and rehearsals taking place over the internet.

“It’s not ideal but we have to make do,” Morgan said of the situation.

This brings us to how the film industry is starting to make a gradual shift to virtual and online platforms.

London’s Future of Film Report 2020, although written in a pre-COVID world, addresses the current challenges using innovative “virtual techniques”.

The report sets out a vision of the future of film that is “inclusive, sustainable and rewards innovation and creativity”.

The findings of the report provide a template for the industry to respond to the extraordinary challenges posed by the pandemic.

Also on the road to recovery are our cinemas — home to family nights out filled with popcorn and choc bombs.

Earlier this month, the Advertiser spoke to Orana Cinemas Albany manager Memo Cardoza about the struggles of closing his doors.

Orana Cinemas Albany reopened on June 6, but with movie production halted across the world, the venue was missing one important element — new releases.

One of many high-profile examples was No Time to Die, Daniel Craig’s fifth and final James Bond film, which had its release date pushed from April to November.

Other potential blockbusters, such as A Quiet Place Part II, Disney’s Mulan and Wonder Woman 1984, were all pushed back by several months.

With the film industry on hold, Mr Cardoza said the future remained unclear.

But despite this uncertainty, it is not all doom and gloom.

A flurry of feature films have been shot in WA in recent years, with Albany and the Great Southern getting plenty of love.

There is clearly something that appeals to filmmakers about our rugged and diverse landscape.

H is for Happiness, Breath, Rams and the action-adventure TV series Itch have all been filmed locally.

And while creators around the world are being hurt by the pandemic to varying degrees, it is worth remembering how good we have it in WA.

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