• Thomas Gidlow

An Important Message About Facts, Belief, Opinions, and the Future

The following was written solely by Thomas Gidlow and may not reflect the views and thoughts of those associated with Skyphire Entertainment.

Back in mid-March, I - in consultation with multiple members of the Skyphire team - made the decision to postpone production on Camisado: The Event Series. We were days away from our fourth filming period, and had made plans just hours prior to go ahead with our slate of scenes despite the looming (but still relatively small at the time) threat from the emerging Covid-19 outbreak.

At the time, the decision was based on an abundance of caution and the facts as we understood them. We had several people traveling from outside of North Carolina and were set to film at the home of an elderly woman who had respiratory issues. It was tough, but we never felt wrong about being "overprotective" regarding our cast and crew (and those who have helped with locations and much, MUCH more).

At the time, our country was becoming startled. What seemed like a small outbreak in the pacific northwest and in New York City was now becoming a real, actual pandemic. Before our very eyes, we watched as daily counts grew exponentially, and we all collectively wondered just how bad things could get.

Little did we know we'd be here, now.

It's July at the time of this article's posting, and in no uncertain terms, things have gotten far worse. Whether due to the effects of the coronavirus, the tumult on the streets due to civil unrest, or the economic misery so many are enduring, one thing we can all agree on is that we're in collectively worse shape now than we were some four months ago. Why? What happened? Is it the President's fault? Is it Congress? Is it my neighbor? Is it me?

It's enough to make you crazy.

Chart via Johns Hopkins University & Medicine website regarding Covid-19 cases from February through late March. As if you needed to be reminded, the one spiking out high above the rest is us, the USA. We're spiking in a similar way now, too.

Through all of the insanity that will now forever be synonymous with the first-half of 2020, a quasi war has broken out. No, not black versus white, or liberal against conservative.

Fact vs belief.

Hard as it is to imagine (I'm talking about our 2019 selves - we can certainly imagine it now), belief is becoming more and more the currency of the day in these United States. No one's beliefs can be trampled on, for fear of denying one the right to believe. And all it's cost us are facts - data-driven, scientifically provable facts.

Take the hot-button topic of masks, for instance. As if we were transported back to 1775 in colonial America with King George himself breathing down our necks over taxes to the Crown, some of us in this backsliding nation believe that not wearing a mask is a statement of our freedom - specifically our freedom to choose. "Off with the masks!" they shout, akin to the patriots who tossed barrels of tea into their local harbor at the mere thought of taxation without representation.

The fact is that, while masks are of course no catch-all protector from being infected with Covid-19, they certainly reduce the risks. Repeated studies (and there are plenty of dramatic videos with literal proof of their effectiveness for those who prefer illustrations) continually show that mask-wearing when in places where distancing isn't practical does limit the spread of this novel coronavirus.

FACT: Masks prevent particles from my respiratory system from getting into your respiratory system (Source: Bill Nye)

BELIEF: Masks can't save me, so why should I wear it? (Source: N/A)

Take the above example. People don't need to source their beliefs, or their feelings that their rights are absolute, without question. Mr. Nye aptly and simply proved why masks are effective with a couple of short TikTok videos. It won't change the mind of someone who believes otherwise.

And that's a microcosm of why we're in our current predicament.

Opinions are like...well, you know (and here's one of mine)

Opinion and belief are besting facts and science at every turn in this country. Even I am not immune to voicing an opinion or two (or seventy) from time to time.

I like to think my opinions are based on some semblance of common sense, logic, or facts as I know them. I have been wrong before, and I'm sure I'll be wrong again. But I'm not so set in my ways that I can't think objectively about something and change my mind.

Filmmaking during the Covid-19 outbreak. Oh boy, could I go on and on about that. My opinion is that even the most expensive productions with hundreds of millions of dollars to spend cannot keep this coronavirus at bay. Not yet, anyway. So when I see smaller indie groups around the southeast gearing up to film - some even have already - all I can think about is how risky that is for actors and crews alike.

Most of the indie BTS (that's short for "behind the scenes" for the uninitiated) photos I've seen are of folks with zero personal protective equipment, to boot. I'm going to guess that they probably didn't adhere to self-quarantining before and after production, nor did they do a lot of distancing on the day.

In my opinion, the risk is far too high to be filming right now - and that risk is only growing, especially among the more able-bodied among us since 18-40 year-old's seem to be the biggest group fueling the latest surge around the country. That's a data-driven, provable point. It's not a belief - it's reality.

But that's my opinion. And I, of course, don't control anyone else but myself. I know that filmmakers are going to film. Whether they take precautions or not, the cast members and crews will be at a greater-than-usual risk of either catching Covid-19 themselves...or, becoming unwitting spreaders to others. There's just no way to stop it as of this moment in time (aside from staying away from the set).

The future is what we make of it - while we can still decide, that is...

My optimism for the future is waning, to be honest. 2020 has been a hard, long slog - and we're only halfway through. The fall and winter months could either be pleasantly surprising if we get our collective act together. Or, it could be some of the darkest times we've ever seen as a country.

I keep waiting for that other shoe to drop. I try to remain positive, keeping busy and working. I was laid off from my 9-to-5 in March, but I will most likely have a job to go back to in a few weeks. Being on unemployment has been a weird experience, but it has allowed me some time to really take stock in the important things in life.

The bottom line...

Each of us has a responsibility to the truth - whether it's personal truth, historical truth, or spiritual truth - no matter how hard it might hurt. We all have our own beliefs and we all have our own views. But when proven facts and even science itself are both so readily tossed aside in favor of personal beliefs, we are ignoring that truth for something more comforting.

The future is ours to decide. Do we want to regress into a society that touts more about its freedom to believe whatever we want regardless of fact? Or do we want to use data, science, logic, and common sense as a guide to help us forward?

By next January, we'll have our answer. I hope we choose correctly.

Thomas Gidlow

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