Home >News >India >Filmmakers report unsustainable budget spike, time lag in phase 1 of shooting
Outdoor shoots can also add to the budget as even one member falling sick can lead to a wrap and add to transport costs, say producers.
Outdoor shoots can also add to the budget as even one member falling sick can lead to a wrap and add to transport costs, say producers.

Filmmakers report unsustainable budget spike, time lag in phase 1 of shooting

  • Producers report 10% surge in shoot budgets due to sanitisation protocols which also prolong filming schedules
  • With staff spread out over different zones, filmmakers feel shooting during covid-19 also hinders the creative process

NEW DELHI: The first phase of film shoots post the covid-19 lockdown has resulted in a 10% rise for movie producers both in budgets due to safety and hygiene protocols, and in the length of shooting schedules. Schedules need to be interrupted at regular intervals for sanitisation and cleaning purposes.

Films like Akshay Kumar’s Bell Bottom, Yash Raj Films’ Bunty Aur Babli 2, Yoodlee Films’ Comedy Couple and others that have finished shoot in the period after permits came in from the ministry of information and broadcasting have had to quarantine cast and crew in the run-up to the schedule, isolate team members in different parts of the set and generally work under tense circumstances that are not conducive to a creative atmosphere, filmmakers say.

“There has been no effective reduction in the number of people in the team, instead we have got the crew to work from different zones, first an outer arena such as make-up vans, then immediately outside the set and then those required on set," said Siddharth Anand Kumar, vice-president, films and television, Saregama India. Saregama, which owns boutique studio Yoodlee, has wrapped up the shoot for four films post the lockdown—Comedy Couple, Zombivali, Agra and Bahut Hua Samman. Kumar said the segregation of people has meant the occupation of more space on set and also slower work progress. The cast and crew are tested after they reach the set, the make-up takes longer and, every couple of hours, work has to be paused for sanitization and disinfection. Apart from a few initial portions, Yoodlee has shot all its films outside Mumbai, in locations like Shimla, Gurugram and a village in Maharashtra. Scenes requiring crowds have been created using CGI and visual effects.

Deepshikha Deshmukh of Pooja Films, producers of Akshay Kumar’s Bell Bottom, which was shot in Scotland, said the safety protocols undoubtedly added to their budget. However, this could not be compromised. Moreover, they did not have the option of offloading crew members to cut costs.

“We needed to ensure that our cast and crew fly comfortably and safely so we chartered a plane and observed a two-week quarantine. Then we created sanitisation infrastructure on sets and had a covid-19 management team supervise the safety measures so obviously all of this added to the budget. We took a calculated risk, worked out the budget, and went ahead. We also tried to do some amount of cost management by doing simultaneous double shifts," Deshmukh said.

Apart from managing tcommute of their crew members and ensuring they don’t take public transport, some studios like Yoodlee even facilitated the stay of their junior staff in hotels for the portions shot in Mumbai so they don’t go back home at all. Meanwhile, companies like Pooja arranged for cooks who served hygienically prepared meals for everyone on set and remained in a safety bubble like the rest of the team.

“The risks are higher when you’re shooting out of the city though. Even if one person falls sick, you have to wrap up and bear flight costs to bring everyone home," Kumar pointed out.

Further, as teams work under much anxiety and pressure, producers say the atmosphere on sets is extremely tense and the wait for a vaccine is desperate.

“The good thing is everyone has turned extremely cautious. But this model is definitely not sustainable," Kumar said.

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