Proceeding with caution, creativity, and new connections as business reopens in Indiana

This is now my third week of contributing to Input Fort Wayne’s blog project during the Covid-19 crisis. It’s interesting to see what has changed and what has not. For me, people have changed while the situation has not. As much as I try to stay in my own world and focus on my responsibilities and productivity, the occasional glance at news and health sites reminds me that the pandemic will continue to deeply impact us for some time.

On the personal front, I’m striving to pursue more creative activities while reducing my consumer activities (like watching Ozark, with which I am quite involved right now!). Creating for me means making music and art, exploring health and fitness, and finding opportunities and new skills. Even weeding the garden and cleaning the garage are creative activities for me. That’s just my thinking right now, and it’s different for everyone.

My business (PUNCH Films) is hanging in there. (Read my previous blogs here.) It’s been great to reach out to friends, colleagues, and clients to share stories. We saw some referral business come in the door last week that provided a much needed shot in the arm for the team. These would be very interesting projects and clients under any conditions, and especially given the current situation.

I’m finding that reaching out is good. Even asking for help or some additional attention feels like a positive thing. One of my favorite haunts is United Coffee on Jefferson. It’s a great place run by a super nice couple. They sent out a friendly “please rate us on Google” message last week, and the next day, the drive-in line was packed. I thought that was a pretty smart way to reach out to customers who sincerely care about them while asking for a little support.

As President of the board for Fort Wayne Cinema Center, I’ve found that just letting people know that you could use a little help can go a long way. At PUNCH, we ask people to share their positive experiences with our company with others in the industry. We’ve been around for 15 years, and we’ve made a lot of friends along the way. These are wonderful friends to have at this time. And, as a result, other businesses have approached us. Salesmanship might come off as a little gauche at this time, but I go easy on people, especially salespeople. It's a tough job, and everyone is trying to figure out their path toward uncertain futures. I may not be buying, but I’ll listen and be respectful when given the same courtesy.

As the state reopens to business, we continue to play it safe. We work from home with occasional trips to the office. We are planning ways to keep clients and our team safe when conducting studio shoots and location filming. We are lucky to be moving into summer as the majority of filming will take place outdoors where it is much easier to maintain social distancing.

We’re still planning some indoor shoots, too. Fortunately, we have a good amount of space in our facility to help keep people separate. I’m planning another supply trip to ensure that everyone has easy access to soap, masks, gloves, sanitizer, and disinfectant. We have to be careful around our equipment. One doesn’t douse an expensive monitor, camera, or lens with disinfectant, but we’ve had experience disinfecting our equipment in medical environments in the past.

When I go out into the community, I wear a mask and sometimes gloves. I honestly feel a little self-conscious about it. It feels strange to walk past those who’ve chosen not to do so. It’s as if one of us is making some kind of statement. I hate wearing a mask. It fogs up my glasses, and it feels dumb. But, I’m not messing around with this, and if I don’t want to wear a mask for me, then I will wear it for my family, coworkers, clients, my aging parents, our healthcare workers, and our community. I don't want to see our city as another sad headline in the national news.

These are just a few ways I’m trying to do my part as we navigate these uncertain times.

This blog is part of an ongoing, weekly series in Input Fort Wayne, following local small business owners as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Read Derek's previous blogs here.

Read more articles by Derek Devine.

Derek Devine owns PUNCH Films, a Fort Wayne-based film production company. He is one of Input Fort Wayne's small business bloggers, sharing his experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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