I’m Jo-An, an aspiring art director and filmmaker from the design for art direction course at LCC.
Now that we are almost halfway through 2021, I would agree that this year hasn’t turned out the way we thought it would. During my first internship, I was working from home since the second national lockdown. Live brief Selfridges and Self-initiated projects also turn into weekly group virtual meetings. As a student, in this professional and practical learning year, we are still in the midst of a tectonic shift in how we learn and work in the post-pandemic world. But what will we learn or take away from this while the new remote world we’re in? What do these changes mean for the learning profession?
In January 2021, with the third national lockdown, I felt a bit of shock to the fact knowing that we would still be working from home for an unknown time. Soon after, the Film London website announces new guidance and restriction for crews filming in public spaces in London. In February, I had an experience of a day on a film set in Battersea Park with the crew and production process for my SIP performance short film. Have you been enjoying teamwork in the pandemic? Do you prefer working with others remotely or in person? These are some questions that have put me in a reality check and on a quest to make this collaborative film very engaging remotely and successfully. It is also the first time I feel much anxiety about physical and subtle barriers during the filming pre-preparation. The challenges of casting virtually and scouting locations through google maps have taught me what can happen when things go wrong. During the weekly virtual meetings with the crew, I feel a lack of commitment, lack of feedback, and disconnection. The moment I realised directing and making film remotely to all the lockdown rules was a massive learning curve for all involved.
Each crew has different personalities, different levels of collaboration, and degrees of conflict. I believe that virtual communication required more time and effort. I recently inspired by film director David Fincher, a director obsessed with perfection no matter how many it takes and is never satisfied. Not only was Fincher’s work distinct and inventive, but also his appreciation for everything. He always watches everything and listens to everything. Watching his documentary gives me some critical lessons on understanding and encouraging input from everyone. Spend more time to communicate with the intention and learn to listen. No matter the medium, you can always choose to create bridges, demands, and cares for team members.
A shake of the head or the tone of voice are ways we decode other people’s interests. When we rely on digital communication via social media or email, more and more of our communication is digital, the human interaction notably absent, and misunderstanding or miscommunication can happen sometimes. It is way easier to focus in my working process when I am doing editing, a sound designer doing sound work, and we are all in the same place together. But when we are all separated and watching clips alone, the timeline for work becomes longer, hard to communicate, and we need to check in on each other constantly. SIP gives me the chance to think about what new collaboration skills or techniques I need to learn as a filmmaker and director. During the time, I tried to look into references and thought a lot about making it easier to communicate and engage remotely actively. “For most people, moving into the digital world to communicate means experiencing significant loss of clarity, ease, and depth.” - Nick Morgen. Months ago, I read the book “Can you hear me?: How to connect with people in a virtual world” written by Nick Morgen. He argues that while virtual communication will never be as rich or intuitive as a face-to-face meeting. I gain some very thoughtful insights and solutions, such as creating trust in a virtual context, overcoming emotional distance, and being more independent professional when your team or colleagues aren’t nearby.
“Will we work in a completely digital environment, like characters in a game?” - Martin van Der Linden
Do we still need a physical workspace to work?
Recently I read a very interesting article from the visual design festival in Dezeen. Van der Linden is the founder of Tokyo-based Van Der Architects. He speculates on the impact it might have on office spaces and wonders whether physical workspaces will become entirely digital.
Today with the coronavirus crisis, companies, media industries, and agencies face problems in using their workspaces. By forcing many people to work remotely, the transformation moves from “analogue-digital” to “digital-analogue”. Perhaps, the lockdown exposes the downsides in working from home. Humans are socially distanced, lack physical relationships, and of course, spend more and more time on screen and social media. With these, in the digital world, we are become players and controllers of the game, sitting behind computers hitting at the keyboards.
For most of this pandemic, virtual workplace bias probably already existed. Perhaps, more and more interactions happen digitally. But I believe our physical distancing does not stop us from building social connections if there is still a great deal of meta-communication in Digital workplaces. Understanding the new rules of engagement, creating intentional space for relationships, and building a new communication skill set can demand our future collaboration and digitally-driven age.
Jo An Li
Design for Art Direction
Image, 1. Ravenscroft, T. (2020) 'Weston Williamson + Partners envisions social-distancing office', Dezeen. Available at: www.dezeen.com/2020/05/14/weston-williamson-social-distancing-office/ (Accessed: 6 April 2021)
Image, 2. Ravenscroft, T. (2020) 'Weston Williamson + Partners envisions social-distancing office', Dezeen. Available at: www.dezeen.com/2020/05/14/weston-williamson-social-distancing-office/ (Accessed: 6 April 2021)
Variety (2021) Ben Affleck Interviews David Fincher On His Work Ethic, Legacy And Mank | Director on Directors. Available at:www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzN7cLFgZ-A (Accessed: 6 April 2021)
Meerman Scott, D. (2018) David Meerman Scott's blog, 'Can you hear me? : How to connect with people in a virtual world'
Available at: www.davidmeermanscott.com/blog/can-you-hear-me-how-to-connect-with-people-in-a-virtual-world (Accessed: 7 April 2021)
Hobson, B. (2020) 'Will we work in a completely digital environment, like characters in a game? asks Martin van der Linden', Dezeen. Available at: www.dezeen.com/2020/05/22/post-coronavirus-digital-office-one-minute-architecture-vdf/ (Accessed: 7 April 2021)