"They/Them/Us," a movie that was filmed in central Ohio, is one of the first in the United States to be filmed while observing social-distancing requirements brought about by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The full-length feature was written and directed by Columbus resident Jon Sherman, who was approved last year for the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit.
It was filmed mostly in German Village, the Brewery District, Victorian Village and downtown Columbus locations.
"I literally didn't think it was going to happen," Sherman said.
The Screen Actors Guild required COVID-19 testing every 72 hours for all 30 to 35 members of the cast and crew. Masks had to be worn by the crew, but actors couldn't wear them after their makeup was applied. Some scenes required tight quarters, leading to a few tense moments on the set, he said.
Sherman said he had a plan: If he, any of the main actors or cinematographer tested positive, filming would shut down for two weeks; if anyone else tested positive, it would be two days.
"The masks, we've all gotten used to it, 12 hours a day," he said.
Production started Aug. 2 and wrapped up Aug. 30. Sherman said a release date for the film has not be determined, but it likely will be next year.
The romantic comedy is about Charlie and Lisa, two divorced parents in their 40s who meet on a dating site, rush into a committed relationship and further complicate their lives when they move in with each other, Sherman said.
It stars Joey Slotnick, who was in "The Blacklist" and "Too Big to Fail," and Amy Hargreaves of "13 Reasons Why" and "Homeland."
Their characters both have two teenagers who have to adjust to the thorny situation, said Sherman, a professor of film at Kenyon College.
The supporting staff really clicked on the set, Sherman said.
"What I think is fun for the movie is I didn't think the kids would work so well and become part of the family so fast," he said.
Eligible filmmakers who receive an Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit must spend at least $300,00 and in return get 30 percent back on qualified expenditures in the state, said John Daugherty, commissioner and director of the Greater Columbus Film Commission.
About a dozen interns from Kenyon College, the Columbus College of Art and Design, Otterbein University and Ohio State University also were on the set.
"They/Them/Us" was produced under the umbrella of Columbus Pictures, a nonprofit entity of the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts.
The movie was made for an undisclosed amount of money.
Daugherty said he was somewhat surprised Sherman, who was approved for the tax credit last year, proceeded with filming.
"I was a little shocked yet supportive and said we'd do everything we could to help," he said.
Daugherty said he gives plaudits to the neighborhoods where the movie was filmed.
"They were a little put out and inconvenienced and were a little concerned, but they were all very supportive when it happened," he said. "Jon's written a script that has made Columbus a character movie."