Industry Insiders


Keira Jameson

Producer and songwriter Gabe Yaron ’22 sat down at his piano to play and sing to his pop song “No Obligation.”  Throughout quarantine, he has been constantly making new music and collaborating with other creators, including his brother Ari Yaron ’18. However, he said that producing music remotely has posed new challenges. 

“I’ve had much more time to write which is great, but collaboration is obviously much more difficult,” Yaron said. “Most of my writing sessions are now on Zoom, which is much less smooth than being in person.”

Like Yaron, individuals in the entertainment industry are itching to make a  comeback as soon as  the pandemic comes to a close. During these past months of quarantine , the industry has been forced to adapt from its traditional methods of engagement to an almost entirely digital playing field. This period of uncertainty  is generating rapid change and has placed pressure on the industry to find new ways to adapt to an uncomfortable situation.

The movie and television industry is beginning to create content once again after months of dust gathering on set. According to Entertainment Weekly, countless studios were forced to either postpone, halt or even cancel productions due to COVID-19 .

Host of Turner Classic Movies Ben Mankiewicz said that he is adjusting to hosting at home, which he said has affected the production of his show in ways he could have never predicted.

“Working at home has been a challenge, nothing compared to what most people are facing, but a challenge,” Mankiewicz said. “There’s no crew, so for me, it’s doing my own wardrobe, hair, makeup, lighting, camera work, recording, downloading, then uploading back to Atlanta. But I can tell you, my appreciation for what the crew does has grown exponentially. And I was already appreciative. You’re reminded that this is a collaborative business.”

Though many productions have been pushed back to next year, some films are taking a different route and will be released on streaming sites such as Netflix and HBO Max. Many people have resorted to spending lots of time at home; according to Forbes, Netflix has over 60 million subscribers in the United States, compared to 128 million total households, making it one of the largest streaming sites in the country. 

Some forms of entertainment have been affected disproportionately, and few are as successful as streaming companies accessible from anywhere, such as Netflix and Hulu. Broadway, sports games, the music business and concerts  are no longer able to have fans attend in person. Channels like ESPN and Sports Net have recently been able to broadcast  live sports and have also come up with unique ways to keep their fans involved during games, such as displaying faces in the crowd virtually and through cardboard cutouts. However, Broadway shows are on hiatus until further notice, mainly because of the theaters’  inability to house an audience. Some Broadway stars, including “Hamilton”  cast members and Disney Broadway show actors, have taken to Zoom and talk shows to continue hosting their performances. The music industry has been facing similar problems due to lack of a live audience; artists such as Harry Styles and Ke$ha will be unable to perform in person until it is safe to do so.

Since live concerts have been postponed, artists are now releasing music during quarantine. According to the LA Times, Taylor Swift’s album “Folklore” gained massive popularity within days of its release, making it the number one sales week of 2020. Other artists continue to tease new music , so it is unlikely Swift will be the last of large artists to use this time to their advantage. Cory Porter ’22 is following Swift on her writing journey  and listened to her newest album within minutes of its release.

“I think this [“Folklore”] gave [Swift] the chance to experiment with her storytelling and lyrical talent in a way that maybe she wasn’t able to do before because of the typical press cycles of previous albums,” Porter said. “This resulted into the more sonically understated but lyrically dense album, ‘Folklore.’”

Similar to artists like Swift, members of the school community have also been creating during their time in quarantine, putting together art, songs  and even some albums.

 Musician Magnus Ferrell ’22 has been creating while sequestered but sees his situation in a positive light when it comes to writing music. He said he continues to brainstorm and record songs because he has more time but sometimes runs out of ideas.

“[Quarantine] has actually made me more productive,” Ferrell said. “I have more time and [fewer]  excuses for not going and writing stuff. But since I’m writing more often, I start running out of ideas because there’s not much going on.”

Westflix ’21 director Tara Neil ’21 said the club struggled with the pandemic at the end of last school year, as Westflix club  leaders were forced to  change and even cancel many thoughtfully planned events.

“Westflix ’20 was, fortunately, able to finish shooting their promotional videos before the start of quarantine, so we were able to showcase those,” Neil said. “Unfortunately, the actual festival that usually takes place at the Arclight Hollywood sadly could not happen in person, so we had a virtual award show and conversation with all the filmmakers instead.”

Westflix faculty adviser Reb Limerick said the club had to make major adjustments due to COVID-19, but in the end,  members were able to  make the best of the situation.

“Westflix ’21 was originally planned for March 20 at the Arclight Hollywood, but for obvious reasons, [because] of the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to postpone and reconfigure the festival,” Limerick said. “Our team was able to pull off a successful, celebratory  and intimate online event using a combination of Zoom, Vimeo and [the] HW website. Our virtual Westflix Festival was hosted on June 12 and 13 and was a beautiful way for young, accomplished filmmakers and media artists from across California to connect, be recognized and receive personalized feedback from industry professionals such as Spike Jonze.”