Television shows have slowly been going back into production after the long (and sadly unexpected) break which began back in March. Everything that's returned to filming, or which will begin filming soon, will, of course, have to undergo some big changes to how that filming happens so that the casts and crews on these shows can stay as safe as possible. The Conners just became the first broadcast comedy to return to production, and star Sara Gilbert just revealed some of the changes they've made to make sure that they can keep everyone healthy.
A big challenge for any series (or movie, for that matter) which has gone back into production has been figuring out exactly how they can keep the many, many people who work on set at safe distances from one another, as well as how to film actors who need to be in close proximity for scenes. Sara Gilbert appeared on Good Morning America recently, and spoke about some of the changes on set, as well as what it's like to be back at work under such conditions, telling the hosts:
Well it’s wild. You spend five months not seeing anybody, and then to be around people you love, I feel grateful that we get to come into work every day. It’s definitely different. There’s a lot of masks and a lot of space, and it’s not exactly the same. But I do feel very lucky. I’m sure people relate. It’s hard to stay home and not have any of your routines, not see your loved ones, and things like that. So definitely it’s been a lot of fun.
Man, I bet it is "wild" and that Sara Gilbert is correct that many people can relate to her feelings on returning to set after such a long time of being in quarantine. A lot of us haven't seen the inside of an actual office, or any place we don't absolutely have to be for at least five months. We're missing not just casual, water cooler conversations with co-workers, but hanging out with friends and family (and maybe a dream guest star), and the simple ability to go wherever, whenever we want and not worry too much about how close we are to other people or who is or isn't wearing a mask.
As Gilbert said, she's enjoying being able to be around some of the people she cares about again, and it's also been nice for her to be able to get back into some sort of normal routine, but it's still a very different experience. Just like in any other social situation now, which involves people who haven't spent quarantine together, the cast and crew of The Conners is having to keep their distance as much as possible and wear those masks. And, when asked about the biggest changes, Gilbert also talked about some specifics with regards to the new safety features:
I would say definitely the masks and the spacing, and then there’s a lot of ventilation. You can see there’s different zones, and which people are allowed to be in which zones. A lot of face shields. We even do run-throughs and all that with masks, so only for a few minutes when we shoot do we even take the masks off. And even then, we’re generally pretty spaced out. You know, a lot of testing of cast and crew several times a week. It’s pretty extensive.
We'd already heard that the show is now using a smaller crew, as well as going without the live-in-studio audience for filming, but every production has implemented extensive changes like the ones Sara Gilbert mentioned for The Conners. Several talk, game and competition shows (like The Masked Singer) are also going without audiences or will have much smaller one as the series return to filming, while the CBS soap opera The Bold and The Beautiful has been using mannequins and the real-life partners of its stars for intimate scenes.
The Netflix hit The Witcher returned to filming a few weeks ago, and behind the scenes photos from the showrunner, director, and star showed a lot of masks, face shields, and zoned off work spaces for particular categories of cast / crew members. That also includes certain groups of people working on the show being put in personal space "bubbles" once they've been tested and cleared, so that they can work together without masks when necessary without the fear of possibly infecting each other.
All in all, even though the return to filming is happening under some odd conditions, it sounds like Sara Gilbert is enjoying her time back on set, and that everyone is able to keep themselves pretty safe, and that's a very good thing. The Conners will return to ABC on Wednesdays this fall, but there's no set return date yet so be sure to check out our guide to fall TV for the latest!