Pandemic pauses video production, but young creatives press on

(Photo courtesy of Creative Commons Zero - CC0)

The coronavirus has had a significant impact on work. More than 38 million Americans have filed for unemployment. One group in particular is feeling the pain: Plenty of actors and musicians have had to remain at home, and so have those who are usually backstage or behind the camera. 

Miami-Dade shut down film production in March. That meant many young creatives had to move home and figure out what comes next. Some quit. Others persevered. 

Directors, actors, production assistants and others have found ways to continue their work at home and remain upbeat despite the pandemic.

One backstage artist who has been sidelined is 24-year-old film director Samuel Ross. He and his 23-year-old wife and actress, Gabriela Vidal, are co-owners of The Visualist, LLC. located in Doral.

 The young married couple entered the entertainment industry while Vidal was attending Miami’s Adriana Barraza Acting Studio. Ross already knew how to take photos, film, and edit. 

The Visualist was founded in 2016 and officially made an LLC in 2019. The company has made videos featuring Miami visual content creator and storyteller Mike “Ohrangu” Tang and his wife, health coach Cristina Pilo; Colombian singer Sebastian Yatra; Miami music video director “Squid;” and many more.

(Samuel Ross going over shots with Sebastian Yatra and Gianluca Vacchi with Gabriela Vidal in the background/ Photo courtesy of Samuel Ross)

Before the quarantine, Ross was directing two documentaries, assistant directing a horror film, and creating four music videos. He was doing social media campaigns, content development, commercials — and real estate photography and video on the side.

“We knew around the beginning of February that we would have to stop several productions that required us to be in person,”  Ross said, “Most of the projects are still continuing not only because there was a lot of effort and money involved in them, but because of the commitment we have to those projects.” 

His wife Vidal added:  “We felt very pressured and sad for so many projects to stop because we believed in them… but this is just another opportunity to evolve the way we do our work, new ways to sell and find clients, etc.” 

The couple is editing and making short videos at home. 

 “We do everything on-line — edit, pre-production, writing, and meeting in our house,”  says Vidal. “[We use] the equipment we brought from the studio,”

Twenty-two-year-old Miami Dade College student, photographer, and film director Kevin Fuerte is preparing for future productions. He worked on the set of the 2018 film “Bad Boys For Life” and recently served as director of photography for the visual album “Discomfort Zone” by the Miami artist Kyriq. He has also served as director of photography and production assistant work for infomercials. 

(Kevin Fuerte taking photos in a studio/Photo courtesy of Kevin Fuerte)

Then came early March and Miami-Dade shut down all filming. 

“All projects were in pre-production and set to shoot that same month,” he says. “I had mixed feelings when they were canceled. On one hand, I understood, but I was disappointed and upset because I felt like I was finally getting work in the entertainment industry,” Fuerte said.

He does have goals to continue his career in production, especially with his new job. 

“Since the quarantine, I haven’t been able to get any work. I’ve been using this time to finish editing photoshoots and some videos. I lost my job at a hotel in Brickell, but luckily I got another job at a liquor store. I’m saving up money so I can buy myself a new camera.”

Fuerte is choosing to remain optimistic and upbeat. 

“There are some positives to the quarantine,” he says, “creators are limited to what they can do within production and take a break from their deadline-driven life. 

Twenty-three-year-old Miami Dade College student Akin Anderson edits “The Wade Different,” a podcast featuring the retired NBA basketball player Dwyane Wade’s father Dwyane Wade Sr. 

(The set of The Wade Different podcast with Anthony Battle, Adley Calixte, Dwyane Wade, and Akin Anderson/ photo courtesy of Akin Anderson)

During the last three years, he’s worked as a production assistant with rappers Young Thug and Swizz Beatz and music video director Young Chang.  

The pandemic has shut that down. Fortunately, he had interviews saved for the podcast and he lives near his production crew, which has made it easier to communicate throughout the pandemic.

“We’ve had emergency meetings during this time and being that we’re all pretty close to each other is really helpful.” He says.

He does struggle sometimes with staying focused.

“During this quarantine, I’ve gotten to organize myself and edit a lot more. It seems like it’s forever ongoing honestly because there’s always an interview ready to edit or readjust our work. I can only sit and edit. There aren’t many distractions. I just have to fight my own laziness.” 

He’s been spending time with his family and listening to podcasts about film and rap to stay occupied. He expresses new optimism and self-reflection from the mandatory quarantine. 

“I’ve just been trying to put my film life into perspective,” he says. “I’m just trying to find my way once all this virus stuff is over.” 

Racquel Lewis is a Miami native who enjoys botany, comedy, theatre, and culinary arts. She is currently an assistant editor at South Florida Media Network while also attending Florida International University as a Broadcast Media major. Her goals are to have her own show and to get an Emmy.