COVID-19 Diaries: Behind-the-scenes of ABC7's virtual docuseries produced amid pandemic

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- One year ago, ABC7 producer-editor Jericho Saria embarked on an unexpected journey that led him into the personal spaces of Bay Area residents without ever leaving his home. In fact, Saria's digital series COVID-19 Diaries was created in a makeshift workspace located in his garage.

COVID-19 DIARIES: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during pandemic

Saria vividly remembers the moment he was told to leave the ABC7 News station to begin sheltering in place. "I was in the middle of an edit, trying to get a Localish done, and they told me, 'You got to go home.' Like, whoa, okay, that's serious," said Saria. "I was really concerned there wouldn't be any work after that, but then it was quite the opposite where it's a ton of work."

He dove headfirst into the yearlong project COVID-19 Diaries, a limited series uncovering the raw experiences of Bay Area residents living amid a global pandemic. Through Zoom, Saria interviewed COVID-19 survivors, small business owners, students, couples and more, highlighting their respective struggles with glimmers of hope and messages about safety.

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"Format wise, you could go with what we usually do, which is having a reporter or talent and having a voiceover," Saria explained. "I saw the potential of talking to people and letting their voice move the story along."

Throughout the post-production process, Saria positioned interview footage within a computer screen interface format accompanied by typing text to mirror the virtual times. He relied on interview subjects to provide photos and video to help illustrate their stories, as shelter-in-place restrictions prohibited in-person filming.

"I think what I'm most proud of with the COVID-19 Diaries is that it was produced with the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic completely honored, this was produced completely safe," added Saria. "I never left the house for this, and I conducted everything via Zoom, emails, and texts."

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The stories of problem solving, persistence, and resilience featured in COVID-19 Diaries coincide with the show's production process. "This is what it was all about. It's how do we work? How do we keep going with these limitations? And the show itself did that," said Saria.

Watch the video above to hear more from Jericho Saria and receive a behind-the-scenes look into the making of COVID-19 Diaries.

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