With filming on EastEnders having resumed back in June, social distancing was implemented on set in accordance with government guidelines.
However, filming in such a fashion means that actors have to maintain a distance — two metres, to be exact — which means that familial scenes, or those featuring intimacy between two people — such as kissing — are pretty much impossible.
Well, that is, unless you’re Jon Sen, EastEnders’ Executive Producer, who — alongside the soap’s team of core directors — thought outside the box in order to devise innovative methods to ‘cheat’ the distance.
Yes, it was revealed earlier this week that the serial drama was intent on ‘cheating’ when it comes to kissing — using a perspex screen to do so, which would then be removed in post-production.
However, it’s not just the kissing that producers are intent on cheating with these innovative methods, but rather social distancing as a whole, and therefore they devised a whole new way to produce the soap — one which ultimately will make for a more enjoyable viewing experience, where the drama remains at the forefront.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk about these clever methods, Jon — who’s as much a director as he is a producer — said: ‘When we came back, we had to devise methods whereby we could cheat the distance.
‘It’s very odd shooting like this. Never before in TV history have we made drama in this way.
‘As a director, you’re constantly looking at the blocking of actors and how you bring them closer together — or not, as there can be a tension in distance. Suddenly, we were forced to work with this two metre rule.
‘I, alongside a few of our core directors, got together and tested and tested, and worked out what methods we could employ to actually cheat distance. It was like learning from the very beginning!
‘The perspex screens that we use: you can bring people closer together and that’s really good as it gives an intimacy to the performance that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
‘We use plate shots which are basic CGI shots, really, where you have two people — who, in the final scene you’ll see them sitting at the same table, but actually they’ve been filmed in isolation.
‘When the actor is filming, they’ll be talking to space essentially, and then that will happen with the other actor, and then you put them together, and it’ll look like they’re at the same table!’
Jon also revealed other methods that will be used, including the use of supporting artists who live together in an effort to better reflect real life, in addition to actors’ real-life partners where possible.
He told us: ‘We hit on the idea of supporting artists from the same households. So, to reflect the world outside, we have a household of students, or a husband and wife who would be walking down Bridge Street, and of course they can get closer together, or they could be kissing in the street.
‘It adds to the sense of life.
‘We have to choose our moments for kissing carefully as it takes so much time but those crucial moments, we have invited real life partners of the actors on set, to be able to cheat those moments.
‘There are other ingenious methods as well that we’re not giving away because we don’t want to spoil the illusion of the drama but, needless to say, I think it’s really difficult to spot those little cheats, because we just want people to enjoy the drama.’
EastEnders returns Monday, September 7 at 8:05pm on BBC One.
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