Canceled. The most popular word in our emails, texts, and Zoom calls. Our entire year of filming from Africa to D.C. to the United Arab Emirates all canceled, but we are far from alone. Production companies, creative agencies, photographers, filmmakers, journalists, and storytellers like us have all been grounded; quarantined. And we are the lucky ones. While we are working to save our businesses, others are doing the truly heroic work of saving lives, keeping people fed, or pivoting their entire business to help healthcare workers in need of proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“What matters most is how you walk through fire.”— Charles Bukowski
For many of us, this COVID-19 epidemic brings about a strange world of conflicting emotions. There is fear. There is anxiety. There is sadness at all the loss. On the other hand, there is a sense that we have an opportunity to show what we are made of.
“I had an idea” / “We should do something” – We yelled simultaneously between my house and the street where photographer Brandon Sawaya stood 10 feet away. We live three blocks from each other, and we were both struggling with how we could help. We heard stories of brave people and innovative businesses right in our community dropping everything and pivoting to help. Inspired by these people, we thought others would be too. We are storytellers… not doctors, nurses, caregivers, delivery drivers, grocery store workers… the real frontline heroes… but we were anxious to help any way we could.
MADE IN QUARANTINE is the idea. We want to shine the light on what resilient people are doing in the face of this deadly virus. The stories are all around us. These aren’t big stories, they’re just people doing their best in the moment. Some have direct ways of helping – like sewing masks or making PPE- and others more indirectly, through leading their community to safety, making music that unites people, or creating a podcast that reaches 10s of thousands.
Now, can we do this safely? We think this is important work, but the last thing we should be doing is spreading the virus. We quickly realized we could use Zoom for the interviews, wear masks and gloves on location, limit our team to two of us, drive separate cars, use very little equipment (basically only what we could hold), use social distancing, and only visit each person or location for one hour and touch nothing. We began by telling stories that were all within just a couple miles of our neighborhood. This was unusual for us as we typically travel far away to tell stories. It was tough not to get to use our crews and fancy cameras, but we weren’t doing this for cinematic perfection – this is something different.
Why do this? The sheer pace at which this whole pandemic and news cycle is moving… it’s impossible to keep up. The landscape keeps changing and each day brings new revelations, new anxiety, and new rules to live by. We are in shock. We are afraid. People all around us are afraid. The health and safety of our friends, family, and community weighs heavily on our minds… not to mention the crushing economic reality looming ahead. But we can’t let our fear rule us. We need to be cautious and safe, but not afraid. Never afraid. What we hope to do is create something out of love; love for our community; love for our craft of storytelling; love for our species. We are doing this to honor the human spirit.
So, here are our stories. We began with five, then seven, and may now have nine. The people we have spoken to have moved us deeply, and telling these stories has proven vital to our souls during this uncertain time. We hope you find some inspiration, some peace, or some joy in these. If you do, share them with others. No one is funding us. We are making these with our own time and money. But we will happily make more if you want more. Let us know!
Much love + Respect,
Senior Creative Director + Principal