When Eastern Region Operator (and NEB Board member) Quenell Jones, SOC, first heard about a mandatory “shelter in place” order, he barely strayed a block from his Brooklyn apartment. Jones, who says “activity is in his DNA,” whether it’s working on projects like The First Purge, Get Out, and Daredevil or just exploring blocks and blocks of his Brooklyn neighborhood, found the forced isolation challenging. But now that restrictions have eased, he says he’s “occasionally” venturing out (carefully, of course) and “day playing,” as production slowly returns. Jones is also trying to acclimate to the film and television industry’s new motto of “testing, testing, and more testing” to maintain safety protocols.
Have you been able to connect with friends/family via Zoom, and, if so, has it revealed new aspects to those relationships?
My family first started a group text with members from across the country. It’s now developed into a once a month Zoom conversation, and it’s allowed us to learn about other family members. It’s really about staying connected, even though we are miles apart.
Any examples of being inventive to keep engaged and active?
To stay creative, when the country was in full quarantine, I was able to turn to still photography. I turned my living room into a tabletop studio and every day of lockdown I took photos of products and food. I would devote the entire day to planning and conceiving a photographic style.
Has your streaming diet been inspiring, scary, weepy, or just pure escapism?
There has been plenty of opportunity for a steady diet of streaming from watching the complete Ken Burns series on Vietnam, all 18 hours, and the complete series of The Crown. But I’ve had a chance to watch narrative films like Da 5 Bloods and Dolemite is My Name. For sports, I watched The Last Dance about the Michael Jordan-era Bulls teams, and Formula 1 the series. And, for a silly comedy, the Trailer Park Boys series.
What music is at the top of your COVID playlist?
I’m a Spotify listener and during the quarantine, I’ve had R&B and House music on heavy rotation.
What charities have you become involved in? And why did you choose?
My neighbor is on the Community Board and I helped with planting flowers and have shown support of the essential workers by lacing all 15 of our neighborhood trees with blue ribbons.
How many books have you read? What are your favorites and why?
I was able to revisit my library, but I also purchased some new books. They include Gordon Park’s complete five-book series, the complete works of Caravaggio. Through a Different Lens, which is a collection of Stanley Kubrick photographs, and Color Correction by Ernest Hass. Most recently, I got Black is Beautiful, by photographer Kwame Brathwaite, who was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1950s and ’60s and whose work remains fully current. My goal with most of these books was to study different artists who use the frame to create a sense of story.
Once the restrictions are lifted, what is the first thing you want to do?
Go to an art museum and a bar!
What is the one thing you miss most about being on a Film/TV set?
It takes a team and collaboration with others.
How has the Union been able to help you through these tough times?
The Hardship Fund has been an important bridge for me during these troubled times, allowing for some financial continuity until production ramps back up – hopefully very soon!
How do you think your outlook on life will change post-COVID?
Considering I have a friend who was a community organizer and has succumbed to COVID, every day is an opportunity to be creative, and to share love with family and friends.