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Face masks, minimum crew, social distancing – the new reality of TV shoots

Lights Camera Back to Action
Lights Camera Back to Action

The entertainment industry, especially the GEC genre on television, which has been starved of fresh content due to halt in shootings due to the COVID-19 crisis, can heave a sigh of relief as shootings now resume in a phased manner. However, the Government has issued strict guidelines to be followed at the shooting site to avoid spread of the virus, including donning of face masks, avoiding crowd shots, minimal crew, social distancing and sanitisation of the sets.

As per the guidelines issued, before resuming the shoot producers have to apply to the Managing Director of the Maharashtra Film, Theatre, Cultural Development Corporation, the Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari in Goregaon, Mumbai, as well as to District Collectors outside Mumbai for resuming shootings.

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Adgully spoke to a cross-section of producers as they ready for the Action mode and the precautions that they are taking to ensure the safety of the actors and crew. They also talk about the budget implications of complying with the Government guidelines on shootings.

Innovations & changes

Abhimanyu Singh, Founder and CEO, Contiloe Entertainmet
Abhimanyu Singh, Founder and CEO, Contiloe Entertainmet

Abhimanyu Singh, Founder and CEO, Contiloe Entertainmet, informed that shooting will take place with minimalistic units, which will be around 33 per cent of the unit, with all the safety protocols in place, followed by measures like sanitisation, tech sanitisation, wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, using precautions while doing make-up etc.

Courtesy Kanika Man's Instagram Account
Courtesy Kanika Man's Instagram Account

He felt, “With all these restrictions coming in, shooting will be in kind of a war zone, the only difference is that this war zone is going to be a Coronavirus war zone. The virus is going to be all around, we just have to take the safety measures to ensure that the virus doesn’t enter the sets, because we need to manage life and livelihood.”

He was also mindful of the daily wage earners, who are dependent on the daily earnings, hence, resumption of shooting is necessary for them as well as for the entire industry.

Several innovations and changes are expected as the industry is entering a complete different zone. Singh said that certain members of his team would stay on the sets so that they don’t have to commute on a daily basis.

Speaking on the technological aspect of shootings, Singh explained that VFX, for example, requires the involvement of a lot of people, but now this type of technology would need some innovations in order to manage visual effects with minimum people. He also envisaged an effect on the budgets as he felt that shooting costs would go through the roof and “that’s going to be dangerous because it will take a lot of time to get back to a normal life”.

There will be added cost

Mautik Tolia, Co-founder and Director, Bodhitree Multimedia
Mautik Tolia, Co-founder and Director, Bodhitree Multimedia

Mautik Tolia, Co-founder and Director, Bodhitree Multimedia, is also gearing up to resume shootings by strictly adhering to the Government guidelines. He noted, “Now that the primary amount of people allowed is 33 per cent, one has to plan accordingly to manage shoots taking that into account.” He, too, believed that with the new measures in place, it would definitely change the budgets because now there would be added cost to for compliance and the standard operation procedure. Also, with lesser crew the shoot will go longer, even as some sequences will take longer time than before.

Tolia informed that multiple technologies are utilised and implemented, but those are not compatible with every kind of show, hence, it would depend on show to show. “When it comes to outdoor shoots, the crowd depends on the shooting sequence, outdoor shoots can happen with lesser crowd. If the shoot is happening in green zones, then there won’t be any issue with proper safety measures in place, but it will still be with the minimum crew. Once everything else gets back to normal, shootings will also get back to normal,” he added.

We will have to adapt

Gaurav Seth, Founder, Purple Canvas
Gaurav Seth, Founder, Purple Canvas

According to Gaurav Seth, Founder, Purple Canvas, there are multiple issues at play here before shooting can resume and the Government is also being extremely careful in terms of giving approval. Some of the issues that he listed include:

  • The shoot environment by nature is a place filled with people, shooting cannot happen in isolation
  • One cannot shoot in multiple locations
  • Since shoots will happen in a closed atmosphere, depending on the weather, the air-conditioner will be required to maintain the temperature, but there could be apprehensions about whether the air can be a threat of the illness.
  • A large portion of the manpower that works in this industry, especially the tech people, are not natives of Mumbai and hence have gone back to their native places due to the pandemic. So, there could be a shortage of workforce, which will be a challenge
  • It is not possible to script scenes which require more than three or four people, the content will get altered according to the needs of the pandemic and, therefore, may not be true to what the creator is trying to communicate
  • If you don’t alter the script while shooting in this weather, then it will be a threat to sickness, because if even one person gets infected, then the shooting will have to stop again and everyone will have to get quarantined and then you are back to square one

Seth, too, said, “If you have to consider all the safety measures and protocols to be put in place in order to do even a basic shooting, then a cost factor will be definitely attached to it. In terms of outdoor shoots, change is something which is either brought upon you or you bring it out yourself; in this case, it has been brought upon people. We will have to adapt, depending on how and when the situation becomes normal. Sooner or later there will be a change in the way people watch content.”

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