For this installment of Filming in Times of COVID-19, we’re featuring an actor who has shot a number of projects during this time and has a unique perspective on filming with protocols in place. Brandon Knabe is known for his work on projects like the HBO series Euphoria, the ABC series The Middle and the Christmas movie Girlfriends of Christmas Past. Knabe recently appeared in an episode of Showtime’s Shameless and virtually sat down with Casting Networks to share about the experience of shooting it during the current pandemic.
What was it like to film your episode of Shameless?
I got to work in a scene with William H. Macy, which was absolutely incredible. I felt extremely safe the whole time I was on set. They were following all the necessary steps, and I had to take a rapid COVID-19 test a week before my shoot date. I also had to do a test the moment I got to set in order to be cleared for work, so it felt good to know that the production was being thorough. It was all very organized with how they kept people spaced out, too. Everyone ate separately, and they had different cast and crew members coming to set in waves so that things didn’t get too crowded. These are obviously dangerous times with COVID-19, but I still felt safe working on that production because it was run so professionally and to the letter with following safety protocols.
It sounds like you had a very positive experience. Did the protocols affect any aspects of your technique?
My character actually wears a mask in the episode because the show is keeping up with the times and is now taking place within the “COVID-19 universe.” So, I maybe projected my voice a little more than normal during filming to make sure I could be understood, but that was just part of the character’s wardrobe. I think it actually added to the role because you always become your character, and this was a very real thing I could connect to. But, wearing a mask on set and following all the other COVID-19 protocols didn’t really change my process as an actor. I will say, though, that there was a silver lining to the changes. In the past, it could be a little chaotic when you got to set because so many crew members were present and working around you to do their jobs. Now, it’s basically only the director, the AD [assistant director], the cinematographer and the cast. So it was kind of quiet and gave me a second to get in the zone before doing my job.
It’s cool to hear how the safety measures actually helped you work. So, overall, how would you describe the feeling of being back on set?
It felt great. At the beginning of all this, I think a lot of actors were afraid they wouldn’t be able to get acting jobs. But, I’ve booked some incredible projects during this time and every set I’ve been on has always felt extremely safe. It is a dangerous, deadly virus we’re facing, so everyone’s looking out for each other and taking the very necessary precautions. I’m actually working on a feature film right now in front of the camera, as well as behind it as a casting assistant and a COVID-19 compliance officer. It’s reassuring to know how strict the protocols are to keep people safe and then see them enforced on sets like Shameless.
Thanks to his role as the COVID-19 compliance officer on Kellen Gibbs’ upcoming feature Tomorrow, Knabe has a well-rounded perspective on filming during these pandemic times. Coming from his professional opinion, he wrapped the interview on a positive note. “As long as everyone’s following the rules, people will be safe, and we will be able to continue making amazing projects for the world to see,” he concluded.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.