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Photo: HT
Photo: HT

Confusion reigns as filmmakers prepare to shoot again

  • Some directors have suggested conducting mock shoots before schedules start to recognize real drawbacks
  • Filmmakers ask if the entire team will be put under quarantine when a unit goes to a green zone, and someone falls ill

NEW DELHI : Government guidelines for filmmaking, including cast and crew age limit requirement for medical personnel and other hygiene measures on sets, have thrown Bollywood into disarray. Filmmakers are trying to figure out what is feasible as limited teams will mean escalation in costs, infrastructure and resources with shorter workdays.

“Everyone is as confused as everyone else. Some of these guidelines are not practical at all and what’s even more worrying is that we don’t know who is going to supervise or permit shoots," said Navdeep Singh, director of films such as NH10 and Laal Kaptaan.

The draft guidelines obviously don’t consider that movie shoots are extremely chaotic and it would be impossible to manage things such as separate make-up equipment or costumes for everyone, Singh said.

Having one person to wait on every actor is hugely impractical, especially when there are a handful of assistant directors often rushing to do everything from actors’ hair in the middle of shots to setting up props and lights and giving out sheets of dialogue. The mandate also forbids people above the age of 65 and those who are pregnant themselves or have a pregnant spouse from working, automatically reducing opportunities for people when several have already sat at home for close to three months now.

“Ads and TV shows are easier as they work with small crews and within contained environments. However, a lot of this is easier said than done for film shoots that often go outdoors to real locations," said Mrighdeep Singh Lamba, director of the Fukrey franchise.

Filmmakers ask if the entire team will be put under quarantine when a film unit goes out of Mumbai, say to a green zone, and a member falls ill or tests positive. They also ask who is to bear the cost of all of this because there are no provisions for insurance as of now.

Lamba recommends mock shoots before actual schedules start to recognize drawbacks. “We will all eventually get to it but, right now, most people are waiting to see how someone else manages it," he said.

Film shoots usually follow a 12-hour shift but the work days will now be shorter given the sanitization and disinfecting rules. The number of days will thus increase and that will have an impact on budgets when producers are already dealing with dwindling revenues.

The government has also recommended having the whole unit quarantined for the entire duration of the shoot and filmmakers are keenly considering options such as resorts.

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