Home >Industry >Media >TV shoots start post coronavirus lockdown amid constraints

NEW DELHI : Government’s permit to resume TV shoots across states earlier this month has meant some breather for television producers and broadcasters who are following the guidelines and resumed work amid constraints a week ago.

“One important aspect would be to provide an insurance cover to all the producers, the details of which are being worked out," said Mansi Darbar, network vice-president, corporate strategy and development, IN10 Media Network that runs channels like EPIC TV, ShowBox and Filamchi.

The idea that a team member could fall sick during shoot or on set is a fear that several producers are dealing with, across film, TV and web projects, with many wondering if they would have to bear losses of halting production and quarantining the entire unit, especially if it is an outdoor schedule. Broadcasters and producers are still in the process of figuring out what the insurance can cover and how much it would cost.

The other fear is to get actors to come to sets.

“Majority of them are ready but some aren’t willing as yet so it’s really a question of life versus livelihood," Darbar added.

In West Bengal, Arabinda Dasgupta, vice-president, television and new media, SVF (Shree Venkatesh Films) said those who are scared to come to work, are staying home and the company is working with ‘eager artistes’ only.

“We have had to tweak storylines here and there to account for social distancing measures. We are also using mannequins in scenes where physical touch between actors is required," said Dasgupta whose company has five shows currently on air- Prothoma Kadombini, Chuni Panna and Durga Durgeshwari on Star Jalsha and Trinayani and Joy Baba Loknath on Zee Bangla.

Like other producers, SVF is abiding by government mandates to have thermal checks, PPE kits, sanitizers, packaged food and disposable, wooden cutlery on sets. Call times are early and shoots are held between 6 am and 8 pm. While the main studio floor is sanitized twice a day, before and after shoot, make-up rooms and washrooms are sanitized every one hour.

“We’re confining shoots to a studio as of now and not looking at outdoors such as roads and other buildings. The number of people on the main set is restricted to 35 and activities such as editing and programming are being done from home or other offices," Dasgupta said. Make-up of actors too, is done in rooms outside the studio floor so that extra personnel, such as make-up artistes do not have to enter the set.

He is, however, quick to point out that fewer people may not necessarily be seen as a challenge and can also mean smoother work flow as everyone is super conscious and motivated.

“The challenges posed by the lockdown have been unprecedented for the entire entertainment industry," said Punit Misra, CEO, domestic broadcast business, ZEE which has resumed shooting of fiction shows in Karnataka, Orissa, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, and is preparing to begin in Punjab and Maharashtra in the coming days.

“While it was slow to start with, as everyone was learning to operate in the new normal, our teams in these markets are now getting into the new rhythm of shooting and are able to deliver almost the same levels on quantity of content per day as it used to be in pre-covid times. Everyone on the set is cognizant of the fact that safety measures need to be followed strictly, social distancing norms are to be maintained and so on," Misra added.

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