Managing Production During the Pandemic

By Elaine Grey

When the major Covid Pandemic took hold, a shutdown took place, across the United States, and in most other Countries. 

The shutdowns of schools, businesses, and government facilities created challenging times for everyone. People began to work from home, and parents began to home-tutor their children. Everyone was affected by this pandemic. Individuals now had to wear masks and keep social distancing. Everyone was encouraged to begin taking vaccines and regular Covid testing programs began. Supplies on store shelves began to dwindle. Tough times were ahead. Take, for instance, the film and entertainment industry, where my colleagues and I experienced shutdowns, and mandates. Strict guidelines were being developed, and put in place, before anyone could return to work. This affected all of us who work in the business because in most cases production basically shut down.

It was almost a year before production opened again. So, when it did, I knew that we would need to learn to cope with the new, and necessary changes. As an actor, my return to the business came, only when I felt it was safe enough for me to get back to work. As soon as that happened, I began to confirm “Yes” to my availability requests that came in from Casting Departments. During the hiatus, I honed my acting skills, getting myself into shape, painting, and creating personal vision boards, which became packed full of ideas. Visions of home-improvement projects began to float in my head.

Coping with all the changes became necessary. There was less time for socializing. So, basically, most of us spent more time at home with family. We worked on a myriad of projects around the house. We now had the time to do an array of domestic projects, which included inside/outside repairs to the house, and tons of purging, donating, and organizing household items. Perfect projects to tackle while we were housebound. We used some of our pent-up energy setting up a new Gazebo, doing yard work, planting flowers in the gardens. It kept us busy and supplied well-needed exercise. Our outings were basically for food shopping, stocking the shelves, so we could cook meals and eat together. This became our new norm. That is, until the mandates were lifted.

I remember how excited I was when I was able to begin booking work on several new productions. It happened for me during the last quarter of 2019, and beginning of 2020. when CHILI and the TV Series Julia came online. By then I had updated my resume and my photo galleries for casting. I took lots of selfies, bought a new computer, turned in my old cell phone, and managed to get everything up and running. I discovered that during Covid, it was necessary for me to cut back on social events and on travel plans. Reinventing myself has always been a way of life for me.

So, here’s what I did during Covid, in terms of work. I authored articles for IMAGINE Magazine. One of the articles I wrote was about Lau Lapidus, and her workshops on voice-overs and book narration. That was an exciting project. Before Covid, I was a guest on many television shows, including Messier’s Mantra, in Seekonk, MA, the Charlie Flannery Show, in Taunton, MA, and the Boston based, John F. Fahey Show. After several Shows with John Fahey, John, and I began to appear together on many Local Access TV Shows, as guests, where we would promote former Mayor Ray Flynn’s book/screenplay, “The Accidental Pope.” We would also have discussions about the film industry, and the benefits of the film tax credits. 

Then Covid hit and our television appearances came to a halt. So, John Fahey and I turned to radio where we become guests. Aside from promoting the book, Evelyn encouraged me to tell her audiences about my experiences in the industry, and how I have managed to reinvent myself, throughout the years. Voice Overs, Book Narrations, Radio Podcasts, and Zoom Workshops/Performances became more relevant than ever before. They served us well during the Pandemic. They supplied us an exciting and necessary means of communication. 

Director-Actor Sharon Squires contacted me about a new Shakespeare Zoom Performance project. I had worked on her Julius Caesar project as an actor playing a small but significant role as the SoothSayer. The project was successful. Sharon was ready to develop a performance of MacBeth. She was familiar with my artwork and was interested in having me create innovative sketches that would be introduced as background throughout the Zoom performances and keep the attention on each of the actors, as they spoke. Imagine, a Zoom performance of a Shakespeare play. How wonderful!

I also belong to a group called Actors Unite. We’ve been working together in person for several years on creating, reading, and filming content for ourselves that included script writing/reading, filming, and working to improve our auditioning techniques. Then the Covid pandemic made it necessary to discover another venue. Charlotte Dore and Doug Weeks created an effective Zoom platform. Both are very gifted people. Charlotte is a remarkably successful actor and puppeteer. Doug is also a talented actor and manages communications for the group. Doug and I were featured background on a small Globe Lobby scene in the award- winning film SPOTLIGHT. The participants of Actors Unite concentrate on helping each other to improve upon their skills. I love the positive and creative Zoom concepts that resulted from Covid. I believe Zoom is a great solution for those not able to gather in person. I hope we never lose concepts such as Zoom, and we continue to develop them. The Summer of 2019, before production came to a halt, I worked on FREE GUY starring Ryan Reynolds, and in Summer of 2020, Ryan returned to Boston again, this time, with Will Ferrell, when the Musical film, CHILI, was filmed. 

And finally, Adam Sandler’s HUBIE HALLOWERN movie was released in October of 2020. Again, production became scarce and with Covid on the rise I personally was not yet prepared to accept work. So, I missed the opportunity to work on several 2021 award- winning films projects CODA, DON’T LOOK UP, and THE GILDED AGE. By the time Season two of the TV Series Julia came along (late 2021) I felt comfortable returning to work, particularly since production standards were in place. That’s when I began submitting again to casting directors. I was chosen to work on a number of TV and film productions, which included Julia 2, I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY, THE BOSTON STRANGLER, and Stephen King’s film SALEM’S LOT.

More recently, in 2022, there was more work that included THE HOLDOVERS, and CHALLENGERS. When I returned to work, The first thing I noticed was the “New Norms” that were needed to work and to be on set. PCR Covid tests, and in some cases daily Covid tests became necessary. A requirement on set is that everyone, including Cast and Crew, wears a mask. You wear your mask for every minute you are at home base. The only times you can take your mask off is when you’re eating, or filming. It’s always “mask off” while filming, “mask on,” while not.  It’s the policy, and everyone is required to follow the rules. 

I spent an entire year pretty much isolated from my friends. So, having work again is wonderful. I’m so happy to be back at work. I love the industry and always wanted to be an actor since I was twelve. I knew that I wanted to work in the film industry, and I’ve been in the industry since 2006.  I’ve been a SAG Member for ten years and I sat on the board of directors up until the end of 2018 when I decided to retire from the Board. I served from 2018 to 2019. The fear of coming down with Covid kept us wanting to stay sheltered.

Elaine Grey photo with gray hair

What I was able to do was concentrate on building upon my attributes. I now have, what I call, Covid hair. As I mentioned earlier, in the article, the pandemic inspired me to grow my hair out, from brunette, to natural Gray and silver. The change would require less maintenance. It also gave me the advantage of applying for a variety of roles that I would not normally audition for as a brunette. I’ve also been working on my wardrobe, as I’m organizing my closet and storage space to accommodate my needs. I have been donating and getting rid of clothes that I do not need to the shelters, throwing away clothes that I’ll never wear. When I work on productions, I usually get my booking text and call time, between 8:00 and 10:00 pm the night before I am supposed to arrive on set. That is when I put my wardrobe together with care. I begin to select my clothes, hats, jewelry, and shoes and whatever else is requested by the wardrobe Department. I wash and clean everything and place it in a carry bag, including my makeup along with personal needs. I would need to have my hair washed and set so that the Hair and Make Up Departments can help me develop my “look,” my character. That is the way I do it.

During Covid, I gave thought to my routine, and to some of the guidelines that I usually pass along to the young actors and new people on set when they ask for advice. I have always enjoyed mentoring others. It’s something I have done consistently for many years. It’s my way of giving back and being grateful for all the opportunities that I have been given during my lifetime. I decided to jot down what I have learned from my experience and pass them along, in this article. These are the rules I try to follow: Booking calls/texts usually arrive between. 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm. I may not not get to bed until after midnight. I set my alarm according to my expected call time. If it’s a very early call time I may set my alarm for 3:00 am or 4:00 am, so I can take a shower, wash and set my hair, make sure my clothes are clean and the bags, Passport and SAG card are all in order. That way, I can be on the road in time for the 6:00 am call time. This routine usually works out for me. When you love your work it makes it all worthwhile. 

These are some of the guidelines that I follow, while on set. I would like to pass them along to the reader. The professional way to behave will be noticed. It is important to keep your eyes and ears open, and to follow instructions from the Director and the Production Assistants. And, for goodness’s sake, never look at the camera, unless told otherwise. Always pay attention to consistency. When they cut and reset you must always go back to your mark, stay on your mark, unless told otherwise. Never try creeping up to the camera. It makes sense. If you are not on your mark, when the camera rolls, it is difficult for the editor to connect the shots. Remember, time is money. 

Finally, I would like to close with a comment about the ever so important Massachusetts Film Tax Credits, which have drawn so many new and returning productions to film in Massachusetts and other New England communities, including Rhode Island. Massachusetts is extremely fortunate that the Sunset Provision was recently eliminated. Thanks to so many people who have worked hard to make it happen. Carol Patton, Publisher, and Editor of IMAGINE Magazine, is one of those people. Bravo, Carol Patton for your insight and vigilant promotion of our Film and Entertainment Industry. 

May we get safely through this Pandemic now that the Mandates are lifted.

Elaine Grey is a SAG Actor, Director, Producer, and guest writer for IMAGINE Magazine. Ms. Grey is also an avid Artist and Photographer. She and her family are longtime residents of Watertown, MA. Elaine can be reached on her Facebook page, as Elaine Grey or via email at

Read on

The 31st Annual Woods Hole Film Festival Kicks off July 30th

We are thrilled that the Woods Hole Film Festival is back for its 31st year! Here are a few highlights to check out in addition to a lineup that includes more than 50 films including short films as well as features.

AFTER ANTARCTICA screening at the Museum of Science on July 21

On the Third Thursday of every month this summer, join the Museum of Science and the Woods Hole Film Festival in the Mugar Omni Theater for a lineup of independent film screenings amplifying inspiring and vital stories of climate change from some of today’s most visionary documentary filmmakers.

1-800-HOT-NITE Premieres in-person on  August 4th

Films are screening in theaters and online (July 30th – August 6th) Tickets can be purchased on each film’s event page. (please note: Miles From Nowhere, The Butterfly in the Sky, Fashion Reimagined & Bonnie Blue: James Cotton’s Life in the Blues will not screen virtually)

Can’t be there in Person?
Don’t worry! Virtual passes are available!

The All Films Pass gives you VIRTUAL ACCESS ONLY to all the feature films, short films and short film programs in the 31st Annual Woods Hole Film Festival from Saturday, July 30 through Saturday, August 6, 2022

Tickets are now available on the WHFF website

Read on

Frankie Imbergamo on the Little Italy LA Podcast

Watch the video here

From the Little Italy LA podcast description:

You probably know his face, now let us introduce you to actor, producer and Food Network darling #FrankieImbergamo. Perhaps best known for his roles DJ Stan Da Man), Chappaquiddick, and Vault, Frankie has also created a name for himself as a famous celeb chef from Boston’s Italian district, a Food Network Emeril LIVE top winner, and cookbook author. He joins us and shares some of his favorite recipes, in addition to his story growing up an Italian kid in the hood, and how his culture influenced him and his work. He’ll share about his close friendship with .#AdamSandler, and working with #JeffBridges, #SandraBullock, and the much-missed #BettyWhite.

Read on

About Our November 2020 Issue

Caitlin McCarthy was named as a Woman to Watch by IMAGINE Magazine five years ago. Caitlin McCarthy earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Emerson College, which is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best graduate programs in the country.

An award-winning screenwriter at international film festivals and labs, Caitlin has written feature screenplays including: “Wonder Drug,” the story we are featuring here and now is heading into production with Rhino Films and producer Stephen Nemeth and previously a “Featured Script” on The Black List website, Bitch List honoree, and among the Top fifty screenplays and Top ten highest scoring women in the 2019 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition (out of 7,302 entries); and “A Native Land,” Academy Nicholl Top 10% and promoted as a “highly-rated script” by The Black List website.

In addition to screenwriting, Caitlin serves as an Acting MCAS/ Assessment Specialist at a high-poverty urban public high school with universal free breakfast and lunch. Before advancing to this position, she taught English Language Arts for sixteen years at the same school in Worcester, Massachusetts.

She was crowned senior prom queen at Worcester Academy, alma mater of legendary composer Cole Porter, Sixties icon Abbie Hoffman, and “Durango Kid” Charles Starrett.

Read on

Massachusetts Native & Farm Boy Sean Lydiard Turned Hollywood Producer Set to Release Latest Feature Film with a Star-Studded Cast

CUT THROAT CITY, Starring Shameik Moore, Kat Graham, Ethan Hawke and Terrence Howard and Directed by RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan in theaters April 10th.

Sean Lydiard and RZA

The theatrical release for CUT THROAT CITY starring Terrence Howard, Eiza González, Wesley Snipes, Denzel Whitaker, Ethan Hawke, Shameik Moore, T.I., Kat Graham, Robb Morgan and Demetrius Shipp Jr. is slated for April 10th, 2020. The film is produced through Massachusetts Native Sean Lydiard’s company Rumble Riot, distributed by Well Go USA and directed by legendary member of the Wu-Tang Clan and esteemed film director, RZA.

This dramatic thriller follows a group of young men who return to New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. Receiving no help from FEMA, they turn to local gangsters for help. Out of options, the four boyhood friends reluctantly accept an offer to pull off a dangerous heist in the heart of New Orleans.

The script of CUT THROAT CITY made its rounds through Hollywood for years before Sean helped bring it to life.

Sean, a country boy from Southwick, Massachusetts, who grew up riding dirt bikes and playing basketball, has built a career for himself by producing feature films such as OFFICE UPRISING (2018) starring Brenton Thwaites and Jane Levy, and WAKEFIELD (2016) starring Bryan Cranston. He maintains his relationship with New England through his brother and creative collaborator Noah Lydiard, who owns a commercial production company in Back Bay named Conductor Productions. CUT THROAT CITY is the sixth feature film produced by Lydiard’s Rumble Riot.

Sean Lydiard p.g.a. came to Hollywood through the world of finance. He was formerly the Vice President of Institutional Business Development at MBT Institutional, a division of MB Trading. Prior to joining MBT Institutional, Mr. Lydiard was a securities trader for the Electronic Trading Group in New York. He began his finance career in the “30 Year Treasury Pit” at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). Mr. Lydiard was an active member of the Securities Traders Association of Los Angeles. He received his BA in Finance from the University of Colorado at Boulder and has held his Series 3, 7, 24, 55 and 63 industry licenses.

Because of his strong financial background and connections, Mr. Lydiard transitioned from Wall Street to film finance rather quickly. Lydiard has earned credits for the following movies: Daniel Alfredson’s BLACKWAY, starring Anthony Hopkins, Julia Stiles, Ray Liotta and Alexander Ludwig. Robin Swicord’s WAKEFIELD, starring Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner. DAISY WINTERS, starring Brooke Shields, Iwan Rheon, Carrie Preston and featuring Sterling Jerins. And STEALING CARS, starring Emory Cohen, William H. Macy and John Leguizamo.

Sean Lydiard p.g.a. launched “Rumble Riot Pictures,” a full-service film production company with Elliott Michael Smith p.g.a. Rumble Riots goal is to bring stories to life by empowering creatives to come together and create art.

The combined efforts of Smith and Lydiard first proved out in Rumble Riot’s Cult hit OFFICE UPRISING, produced by Sean Lydiard p.g.a. and is now featured on Sony Crackle domestically and worldwide on Netflix and Amazon. OFFICE UPRISING stars Brenton Thwaites (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, MALEFICENT), Jane Levy (DON’T BREATH, MONSTER TRUCKS), Ian Harding (PRETTY LITTLE LIARS) Zack Levy (SHAZAM) and many others.

Lydiard was awarded the p.g.a. mark for his work on CUT THROAT CITY and is next set to produce the award winning script “Sunflower” co-written and directed by his brother Noah Lydiard. Additional projects include the horror comedy Don’t Bite! The Anna Faris comedy, Summer Madness, and Priority Records, a biopic based on the iconic rap record label of the same name.

CUT THROAT CITY is set to be released in theaters April 10th, 2020.
For more information about Rumble Riot Pictures visit or view the film’s IMDB entry here.

Read on


By Alecia Orsini Lebeda

Last year Women in Film and Video-New England (WIFVNE) decided
to do something bold – feature a woman a day working in the film
industry for Women’s History Month. WIFVNE Board member Chuck
Slavin came up with the idea and the board sprang into action,
featuring thirty-one women on the WIFVNE website and social media
with the popular hashtag #HerStory. This year WIFVNE is doing it
again! WIFVNE will feature women working in New England and
maybe include a female from our filmmaking history too.

WIFVNE was also marking the month by supporting a special event on
March 28th:
WGBH and WORLD Channel Present – A Day of Documentaries:
Celebrating Storytellers. Like many other industry events this day
of celebration has been cancelled due to the uncertainties of the

Why make such a fuss about Women’s History Month? Why is it needed?
Or is it? The month has its origins as a national celebration when in 1981
Congress authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week
beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Coincidentally
or not, this coincides with the Girl Scouts of the USA’s celebration of
their organization (the largest leadership organization for girls in the
world) including their birthday on March 12th. Between 1988 and 1994,
Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the
President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month.

Some women do not like the idea of dedicated months for celebration
of any kind. The token month can be lumped in with the “pink” tax and
gendered job labels such as “female” scientist instead of just calling a
woman a scientist. However, there are real tangible reasons to have a
celebration and recognition in this way. Soraya L. Chemaly, an awardwinning writer and activist whose work focuses on the role of gender
in culture, politics, religion, and media sums it up this way:

“Women’s History Month, like Black History Month, is a pragmatic,
short-term response to persistent cultural marginalization and
misrepresentation. It’s an antidote to systemic erasure. It’s an attempt
to both create representation and explain why it’s important.”

While we pause to celebrate women this month, every day organizations
like WIFVNE are promoting and working on changing culture, and
on the massive issues around systemic erasure of women in the film
industry.. The Me Too and Times Up movements certainly do not wait
for a calendar date to make change in our society. We can simply think
of March at the anniversary of those efforts.

Chemaly wrote that summary in an article in 2014. She concluded with
the very real sentiment: “Boys and girls shouldn’t be taught that the
achievements of women are special—they should be taught that they
are standard.”

What advice would you give to a new female filmmaker? WIFVNE
members respond:

“Believe in yourself. Find your voice and amplify it. I got a lot of
pushback when I started out that fed on my insecurities. The minute
I chose to trust my vision, others did, too. It’s okay to be strong and
know what you want–go for it!” says Gabrielle Rosson.

“Build each other up, walk away when other people want to tear other
women down and be the mentor you wish you had” according to
Charlie Alejandro.

My advice to a new female filmmaker is to remember to have fun. I feel
that we all get so embedded in our work that we forget to enjoy the
process. Making films as an independent artist is really intense, but so
worth it!” adds Jessica Estelle Huggins.

Take risks, persist, don’t take no for answer, and believe in your ability
to learn on the job,” contributes Cheryl Eagan-Donovan.

One day, having any month dedicated to women’s history will seem
unnecessary. Until then, Happy Women’s History Month.

In the interest of celebrating Women’s History Month, IMAGINE has
included several images that cannot fail to impress.

For more information about Women in Film & Video, New England,

Read on

Come Celebrate our 22nd Birthday!

In this troubling and challenging time of the coronavirus, we need to “imagine” once again, with all our might that this shall pass, that we will all be safe, and sooner or later, we will return to our calling. Again, we must manifest our imaginations collectively as a novel virus is not a level playing field by any means. But, we can do it.
I’m planning a big celebration as soon as it is safe for us to be together again. And, as we need cash flow to sustain (we still have lots of work to do in behalf of our industry), I am offering reservations for this event for $22 – it will be much more when the time comes, but make no mistake, it will be an elegant and special celebration everyone will want to attend.

Read on

Conductor Productions Creates Massive Campaign for Fanatics

By Don Packer

In a time when the advertising and production industries are experiencing changing business models and increasing competition, one thing remains true: If you succeed in working with your client to significantly and efficiently grow their business they will keep coming back. Case in point: Boston Back Bay’s Conductor Productions and

In 2018, Fanatics called Conductor Productions looking to boost their presence on the national stage and their overall sales. Conductor had proved themselves in the sports/celebrity arena having previously worked with sports celebrities like Tom Brady along with golfers Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele, to name a few.

Recognizing the opportunity, Conductor Productions got to produce their first campaign with Fanatics and it was quickly embraced.

The requirements were to conceive and create a broadcast campaign to celebrate the fans, highlight the apparel and provide a greater return on investment ( ROI).

They had to strategize a plan to efficiently shoot fan gear from all the major brands, leagues and teams (NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL)

It was also requested by Fanatics that they provide multiple national spots as well as market-specific versions to run locally in their top fifteen sales markets. In addition, there was a need to quickly and easily update creative to accommodate multiple offers, which would be tested in order to optimize media and (ROI).

Quickly moving forward in their creative design, Conductor built and lit staging that looks like an authentic entrance to a sports stadium. The set was created to be reusable so that they could organize multiple shoots throughout various sports seasons over and over.

Using scores of models and actors to portray fans in hundreds of different outfits with the scalable production workflow was critical to the final delivery and any future spots. This enabled Conductor to continually update Fanatics library of footage within each shoot. From there, the post-production team of editors and designers took over and created spot after spot for all channels.

Using 2017 Sportscaster of the year Kevin Harlan and Emmy Award Winner Mike “Doc” Emrick as voiceover talent along with music from Grammy Award Winners, Greta Van Fleet; the impact was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. The first shoot went off in April of 2018 and has continued with fresh work into this year.

“We were honored to be competing against much more established companies for the business, so that helped focus our resolve.” said Co-Owner and Director of Conductor Productions, Noah Lydiard. “We won by listening to the client and valuing their investment as though it was our own. By understanding what was at stake for them, we were able come up with a unique and efficient style that generates massive amounts of sales without compromising the company’s brand.”

When the spots launched, Fanatics realized and reported robust and exciting heightened brand awareness, increased visitors to their websites and more importantly, they got a drastic and immediate boost to their sales revenue. In fact, they reported six times more effectiveness than comparative league spots in 2018.

This further led to a full campaign rollout, with expansion into Canada and other key international television markets continuing well into 2019. Television spots with known sports celebrities such as, Tedy Bruschi, Mark Messier, Ed Reed, and Jim Kelly, as well as Sportscaster and television personality Erin Andrews were also created.

With over 300 television commercials, roughly 120 Social media posts and radio ads, the proof was in the pudding as they say, culminating in spots for the Stanley Cup championships, the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals.

We are starting to look at new designs and strategies for the campaign, but currently the creative continues to grow in effectiveness. It just goes to show the value of good team and honest, hardworking creative,” stated Noah Lydiard whose team included Ryan Donavon, SVP of Marketing at Fanatics and Scott McKinnon, Producer and Copywriter at Conductor Productions.

For more information about Conductor Productions, visit

Read on