The Corona Diaries, Part 1: The Shut Down

Northern California Coast, 2020. Photo: Busy K

Checking in, everyone.  How are we doing? I hope you all are safe and healthy. Isolation takes its toll, and I hope you are being kind to yourselves.

When everything shut down in March, I was working on a travel series for Disney+ called Parenting Without Borders.  As the showrunner and director, I had assembled the most incredible team, and together we had developed a great series that the EPs and the network loved.  I had wonderful partners at Disney who wholeheartedly supported our creative ideas.  I also had the tremendous support and institutional knowledge of Boardwalk Pictures, which does such incredible international production with Chef’s Table and Street Food.  This was going to be a beautiful, poignant series about how culture influences parenting around the world.

I think back to those days in February and March when we were conducting daily risk assessments. Because of a lack of coherent information about coronavirus from the Feds and CDC, we had to glean the risks from our own resources, the news and from our international contacts on the ground. The world started to shrink before our eyes as countries around the globe turned into hotspots, and suddenly, the coronavirus was here in the United States.

I had to pull it all down two days before we were scheduled to begin filming.  We literally had to tell a producer to turn around as she was headed for the airport for the advance scout.  Collectively, Disney+, the production company and our team agreed that we had to pause on the project.  Just how long we were pausing was as unclear then as it is now.

It’s easy to get caught up in the fog of production when you’re so close…months of research, conversations, meetings and casting to build relationships with our subjects in many countries in different time zones – not to mention the layers of negotiation and approvals among all the invested parties.  I wanted to keep the project alive for as long as possible and also keep my people safe and employed. I hated having to shut it all down during one of the most uncertain times in our planet’s history.  And personally, I felt impotent and unmoored. I had relocated to Los Angeles for a job that wasn’t realized, and now I was 3000 miles away from my home in Brooklyn.

When we left the office, we thought it would be temporary.  The casting headshots, notecards with story beats, and production schedules still decorated the walls. I hugged my team goodbye without realizing that would be the last time we would hug anyone outside of our bubble for a while.  Disney+ remains committed to the project.

  1. I’m sorry for all of it! It seems we’ve all lost something in these unsettling times. Keep the faith.

  2. Oh boy KOK, what a rough year! Just like you said, “It was like breaking up with 20 people all at the same time.” Heartbreaking.

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