While many cities and provinces are still mapping out how, exactly, television and feature films will resume production during COVID-19, Cristina Rosato and Greyston Holt are already back at work.
The real-life couple is among the first of North America’s actors to re-start filming, starring in the TV-movie For Better or Worse, in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley. And while Rosato and Holt didn’t have to worry about social distancing when it came to working with each other—they are a couple after all—not so the case with the rest of the cast and crew.
“We originally thought we might be back filming For Better or Worse, very conservatively, in August, September or October,” Holt says, on the line from Vancouver alongside Rosato. “When we got the call that we would potentially be filming on June 8 as a start date, it was surreal. It didn’t make sense that something was coming back that early.” But, with pandemic cases in B.C. holding steady, the project went to camera with guidelines to keep everyone safe.
Rosato describes the taking and recording of daily temperature checks for everyone on the cast and crew, with the stipulation that anyone having a fever would be immediately tested and would not return to set until the testing was complete; no one had a fever or became sick. Everyone reported to a sanitization station and put on masks. Champlain Media, the production company behind For Better or Worse, had everyone involved in the project stay in the same resort during filming.
“We just always wore a mask,” Rosato says. “And then when we were rolling, we would take them off.” Because of the way the script was written, day players and extras were kept to a minimum and only a very small, core cast interacted with each other.
For Better or Worse stars Rosato as Olivia Owens the owner of a community garden centre. Holt portrays Brian Wolf, a property developer for low-cost housing. Brian’s aim is to tear down Olivia’s garden in favour of subsidized housing. There is, of course, friction between the pair that only grows when they’re paired up for a friends’ wedding. It’s the light-hearted TV-movie fare we’ve come to expect from projects like Holt’s previous work in A Very Country Wedding, A Puppy for Christmas and Love is a Piece of Cake. Holt believes that, with the world being such a crazy place, viewers like to watch people falling in love and jump at the chance for some light escapism.
With pandemic fears continuing, For Better or Worse couldn’t be more timely, content-wise. And, with production ramping back up, Rosato and Holt realize For Better or Worse could serve as the template for TV and film.
“We felt a real responsibility to do it right and not mess it up for everyone else,” Rosato says. “We were very, very aware of playing by the rules and we hope that other people can get back to work because of it.”
Image courtesy of Shawn Goldberg/Shutterstock.