2020 has been a trying year for everyone. As a pandemic swept the country from shore to shore, and we were forced to lock-down, and shelter in place, the film industry was paused, and what was done in production, particularly back in March, was largely what could be done from the safety of our homes. This included script-writing to post-production activities from editing from color-adjustment to sound-editing, etc.
When the lock-down was lifted in part back in June, those who were daring enough, mindful of CDC compliance with protocols, aware that the pandemic was taking its toll, wore masks on the sets and kept a six-foot distance from others. When not in front of the camera, actors sheltered in their cars until a scene would require their presence on the set.
Theaters were closed, or when it was deemed safe enough to do so, some re-opened but only to audiences of one-twentieth of their capacities. For a theater that would normally seat 300, the maximum allowed would then be 60 peoples carefully spaced apart. As the numbers of reported cases spiked, theaters would close again. These mandatory closings forced many theater chains throughout the country to close, some to the point of going out of business altogether.
As theaters were closed, drive-in theaters were opened nation-wide, some for the first time in decades. The pandemic again gave rise to what was in-the-day called the car-culture. People who attended the drive-ins would shelter in their automobiles and as many of the major studios pushed off the release of their movies until 2021, and sometime later, they would attend the drive-ins to watch classic films, etc.
For those who didn’t venture outdoors, new movies were released directly to different streaming platforms. Newly released movies often extracted higher fees to stream, when these movies were watched by families, the per person charge to watch a new release became reasonable.
Even film festivals that had played to excited throngs of fans who appreciated independent releases were forced to stream online. This included many of the largest film festivals, including Cannes, Tribecca, Sundance, and SXSW.
Here in the Mitten State, independent filmmakers, accustomed to premiering their new movies at theaters, something which were often big social events, had two options. They could release their finished productions on streaming platforms on a pay-per-view basis or FREE!, or they could release them at local drive-ins. But as the filmmakers found that went this route this was exorbitantly expensive.
Locally, even the oldest Michigan-based film festivals such as the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Freep Film Festival, the Traverse City Film Festival, the Windsor International Film Festival, the Detroit Trinity International Film Festival, and the Idlewild International Film Festival were all forced to stream online.
Despite this, there was enough going on in Michigan’s film industry to generate news this year. These are the twenty highest-ranked news stories based on views covered by the Weekender in 2020.
1.) Jumanji: Level One’ wraps filming, enters post–Teaser trailer now online
2.) ‘Trailer for the Icewear Vezzo/Kamal Smith directed ‘Price of Love’ drops
3.) Encourage TV offers the world tickets to the Red Carpet Premiere of ‘Lost Heart’ – Nov. 7th
4.) Unofficial trailer for “Turn of the Cheek” drops
5.) Wil Lewis III’s ‘The Bag Girls’ is now on TubiTV, and Youtube
6.) Interview: Kayla Kelly is quickly establishing herself as a remarkable actress throughout the Great Lakes area
7.) Jane Dabish’s puppets are NSFW
8.) Dylan Sides shares BTS photos from ‘Jumanji: Level One’
9.) Fellpeller Studios and Tenille T. Productions partner to produce Justin Mane’s ‘Crow’ short film project
10.) The Darren L. Brown directed ‘The Yousers’ premieres February 29
11.) Official trailer for ‘Jumanji: Level One’ dropped Christmas Day–with an added message concerning a very special group
12.) ‘Seth and Tia,’ a gutter punk homage to Bonnie and Clyde privately screens January 11
13.) ‘For Nothing’ TV series official poster drops-Watch for Brian Heintz in this TV series
14.) Talking with Jordon Foss about ‘Knightmare,’ an epic three-episode Batman fan-film
15. ) ‘Good Thief’ filming wraps, enters post-production
16.) Started as a student thesis film, Dylan Sides’ ‘Crawlies’ is now a fully finished, metaphor rich thriller. And it’s now online!
17.) Filming for Renika McQueen-Echol’s ‘Cain and Abel’ has wrapped and the poster is now online
18.) J.B. Armstrong/Valiant Films’ ‘Solomon’ to screen at Royal Starr’s Drive-in Night, September 10
19.) As we enter the new year, Patrick Harney is excited about several projects on which he is working
20.) Painted Creek Production’s ‘Tale of Tails’ enters final phase of post-production