Posted by Elizabeth Blake-Thomas

“I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.” Paulo Coelho

Before I dive into the making of my latest rom-com “Will You Be My Quarantine?”, we have to rewind a few months to…

April 2020: The Idea

My hair needed washing, I needed a shower and I had no idea what to wear! Lucky for me this wasn’t a date in person, it was a zoom date. So on went a cute hat to cover any visible grease. I positioned myself sitting strategically in the best light. And voila! I looked all set for my date as if I had made a huge effort.

Part way in, I was sitting there merrily chatting to my date, naturally seeing only the top half of his body, when I suddenly realized that maybe he wasn’t wearing any pants! Then my mind went further, racing through the possible scenarios. Maybe he needed a shower. Maybe his house was filthy and the only bit I could see in the lens was spotless! And that was how “Will You Be My Quarantine?” was born.


How I Safely Shot a Feature RomCom During the Pandemic


May 2020: Writing

It was in the early stages of the pandemic that I knew I didn’t want to just sit around to see what was going to happen with my life. I needed to take control of each day. I figured I could actually utilize this time to work, catching up on past projects and kickstarting new ideas, taking full advantage of everyone else not working. Inspired by my virtual date, I immediately contacted my fabulous writer friend Wendy Braff Draper and she began to turn my story into a romantic comedy script.

While “Will You Be My Quarantine?” was being written, myself and my team at Mother & Daughter Entertainment got to work on other projects, utilizing the pause everyone else was taking in order to catch up on our backlog. There were five of us at the start and we made it our mission to complete all of our current projects before quarantine was over, many that had been put on the back burner and needed a last bit of TLC to complete.

June 2020: Hustling

As the weeks passed, one by one projects were finished off. I released a podcast with the target of indie filmmakers in mind, titled “Filmmaking Without Fear”. For the first season, we had previously recorded podcast audio that I had done the year prior that just needed to be edited. My book of the same name was also completed at this time, and was published just this year. The team worked to finish my short documentary “Consume as Little as Possible”, which centers around environmentalism. All the while we were constantly prepping pitch decks/materials and completing new scripts, keeping our company slate up to date and ready to go the second funding was in.


How I Safely Shot a Feature RomCom During the Pandemic

Behind the Scenes "Will You Be My Quarantine?"


July - August 2020: Casting & Hiring

As the script for “Will You Be My Quarantine?” came to fruition, I was eager to move to the next steps, hoping to shoot a feature in 2020/2021. With notes from several mentors, I approached my lead male actor, a good friend who I previously worked with, who came onto the project producing with me. Once funds were secured, it wasn’t difficult to bring the rest of the crew together, as I have accumulated a solid group from previous features.

I immediately contacted my whole team and everyone was on board. The hardest part was assessing and addressing all the Covid rules and regulations, which at the time was a mixture of the known and the unknown. I decided that for safety’s sake, the shortest amount of time on set for cast and crew was going to be the best idea.

I planned one physical location, a massive house that was able to be all of my sets in one, as well as double as a place for my out of town crew to live in.

September - October 2020: Pre-Production

With how foreign shooting in a pandemic was going to be, a great deal of pre-production had to be done. I spent weeks and weeks with my DP, producing team and AD team, ensuring every detail was pre-planned to make our time on set the most efficient and safe.


How I Safely Shot a Feature RomCom During the Pandemic

Behind the Scenes "Will You Be My Quarantine?"

November 2020: Production

We began filming in mid-November. We started the shoot with our main 4 characters. The script was strategically written to have the main four converse over technology from their own “homes” for a large portion of the film. (This was not however like some other projects filmed during the pandemic that filmed actors in their actual own homes. Everyone filmed on set.)

Each main cast member came in for two days to complete their portion of the scenes, almost like a monologue play. We had a reader for the other characters’ lines. The cast had rehearsed constantly over zoom leading up to filming, allowing them to know the pace and feel of every scene and their scene partners.

We shot over eight days. (I know, crazy for a feature!) After the main four had done the majority of their scenes, we then shot the scenes that had additional cast members or multiple people in close proximity. These were all towards the tail end of our shoot. Even with the introduction of new cast, everyone appeared in shifts, strategically organized in the shooting schedule to reduce clusters of new people on set. It was like a tag-team, one in and one out.

Ironically, the added safety constraint made things run smoothly and efficiently. No one could stay around on set for longer than was necessary. Our supporting cast arrived hair and make up ready, with wardrobe previously approved by our costume designer. After checking in with our Covid Compliance Officer, they quickly got into wardrobe, had a hair and makeup check and were on set to shoot their scene(s).

Our schedule and efficiency only worked due to my grueling eight-week pre-production. I had explained to all cast and crew that the only thing that should happen on set was me saying “action” and “cut”. Every single decision had been already made before we were even on set. The furniture, lighting and camera placements were all mapped out to a “T” prior, so as we moved on to different scenes, the set could be pre-dressed perfectly and lighting and camera could quickly and easily be positioned. All of this resulted in no problems nor changes needed to occur on set.

I had worked out every element in minute detail. A typical timeline on all my sets regardless of a pandemic or not, my crew only works 10 hours a day. I prefer giving them longer turnarounds and find this ensures a healthier set. For this shoot I also scheduled separate days strictly for load in and load out to ensure we weren’t rushed at the top and end of shooting. I firmly stuck to the 10-hour daily cap. Everyone’s wellness and emotional and physical health were paramount. It was intense. I won’t try and hide that! I was also in a constant state of worry waiting for everyone to sign in each day, getting temperature checks and regular testing. I desperately didn’t want anyone to get Covid. Thankfully we had a clear set throughout and no one got ill.


How I Safely Shot a Feature RomCom During the Pandemic

Behind the Scenes "Will You Be My Quarantine?"

Laughter is the Best Medicine

I have to admit it was fun working on a comedy, giving us all something to laugh about during quite a dark time. For a few weeks I was able to leave the real world behind and give myself and the entire cast and crew a mental break, feeling a sense of normalcy back within the industry we all love. I watch the finished film now and even I can’t believe we managed to film this during such a stressful, sad time.

Now that everything is edited together, I forget we were not all sitting together in most of the scenes, like you would be on a traditional movie set. It was truly the most amazing experience and my favourite feature yet. The cast and crew were sublime and we created a family-feel even whilst wearing masks and being on high alert.

I am looking forward to directing in the new normal again this summer, but I’m incredibly proud of my entire team for accomplishing such a feat last year, creating a rom-com together that will hopefully bring others some much needed laughter. Be on the lookout for “Will You Be My Quarantine?”, coming soon!



How I Safely Shot a Feature RomCom During the Pandemic



More Stage 32 blogs from Elizabeth: 

Make Your Entertainment Career about the Journey - Not the Destination


About Elizabeth Blake-Thomas

Make Your Entertainment Career About the Journey Not the Destination

ELIZABETH BLAKE-THOMAS is a British award-winning storyteller and philanthropist based in Los Angeles, having recently directed her latest feature film during the COVID-19 pandemic. Will You Be My Quarantine? is a romcom starring Full House/Fuller House star Jodie Sweetin and is set to release in 2021. Elizabeth’s recent film Evie Rose, starring Oscar-nominated actress Terry Moore, premiered January 2021 on Amazon. Elizabeth is the founder and resident director of entertainment company Mother & Daughter Entertainment, whose motto is “Making Content That Matters”, putting focus on each project starting a conversation amongst viewers. An Official Ambassador of Awareness Ties for Human Trafficking, Elizabeth hopes to raise more awareness to the horrific nature of human trafficking and help put a stop to it. Her award-winning short film UNSEEN, which addresses the role technology plays in the facilitation of child trafficking, is being used to educate children on the dangers of lure tactics. Filmmaking Without Fear is a multi-medium resource by Elizabeth curated for indie filmmakers. Her FWF podcast is available on all streaming platforms, and the book of the same name is available on Amazon. A regular on panels at Sundance, Cannes and Toronto International Film Festival, Elizabeth mentors wherever possible, ensuring she sends the elevator back down to all other female storytellers.

Creator of the healing methodology Medicine with Words; learn to lead a more purposeful, peaceful life through guided studies of intention, reflection and deeper discoveries.


Book: Filmmaking Without Fear

Podcast:Filmmaking Without Fear




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