“The Best Laid Schemes O’ Mice an’ Men…”

On August 8, principal photography commenced on the L.A. episode of, “Ten Films/Ten Countries: A Cinematic Journey.”

The crew was in place, along with my 1st AD and producer, we had come up with a safe and responsible plan for shooting that followed safety mandates from the California Health Department’s recommendations. I employed a small crew of five, including a brand new cinematographer and gaffer to assist us. We had plenty of preparation and were even lucky enough to have rehearsals before the shoot. All was going so well and we managed to film three out of the six days until we stopped.

What happened?

On August 13, 2020, we halted filming because one of our crew members was exposed to an acquaintance that tested positive for the virus. The most responsible and correct thing to do is inform the rest of the cast and crew and let them know that I was postponing the shoot until my production team deemed it safe to return. I am happy to say that as of this writing, everyone that tested immediately after the shutdown, tested negative.

My immediate concern was for the health and safety of all involved in this production.

It wasn’t until about a week later that I felt the disappointment of not being able to finish shooting, but something equally disappointing occurred to me. My mistake was in shooting the film in the first place. No matter how well we planned and all the precautions that we believed would make it safe for us to shoot, there was one factor that we could not control. We wore masks, we kept social distancing, we all have our own reusable water bottles and individually wrapped snacks. Our lunch break was separated into two areas, one in the back yard and one in the front garden. So, what was the factor I could not control? Everything outside the set. Everybody arrived to the set prepared for a safe working environment, but we don’t have that same control with friends, acquaintances, or strangers at a grocery store that walk or rub past us in a crowded aisle, or that had just picked some oranges leaving the others that were touched, waiting for our hands to grab them and take them home.

I have to admit that the prospect of working on a film with the people that I respect and love, to make art again, and collaborate with my peers, may have blinded me to the fact that we are in the middle of uncertain times. And with the news seeming to be more and more dire day by day, the most important thing is, people’s well being must take priority over my artistic endeavors.

When will I be able to return to shooting? I don’t know. Honestly, that is not a possibility at this current time. But what is possible, is to take this opportunity to take the time to revise another draft, finish an outline of another story, and finish the postproduction on a couple of projects that have fallen to the way side. In other words, I don’t have to stop creating, I just have to stop and think for a minute, that when the time comes around again and it is safe to resume, we will all be better informed and perhaps a treatment and cure are on the horizon. But at this point, I cannot look forward to that time. I must seize the moment of the now and take this opportunity to remember why I am in this business and what fuels my soul.

To create, to be inspired, and to roll up my sleeves and do the work.

Javier Ronceros
Author: Javier Ronceros

Javier Ronceros has been a working actor since 1989 in New York and Los Angeles. In Film, Television, Web and Theatre.