Coronavirus Impact: Why film production firms continue to struggle to resume shoot despite relaxation of norms

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Updated: Jun 03, 2020 3:49 PM

As per the new guidelines, only 33% crew members can be present at a given

As the broadcast industry continues to struggle to generate enough advertising revenue due to lack of fresh content, industry analysts call the move a small yet significant start. As the broadcast industry continues to struggle to generate enough advertising revenue due to lack of fresh content, industry analysts call the move a small yet significant start.

After three months of lockdown, the film and the broadcast industry has finally been allowed to resume production of serials, web-series and films by certain state governments including Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu in green zones. However, the approval comes with a caveat, as per which only 33% of the crew excluding the lead cast is allowed to shoot, among others. “These guidelines are prohibitive for my production house to shoot. We will have to wait for guidelines to be more relaxed until we can start filming again,” Vikramaditya Motwane, director, Andolan Films, told BrandWagon Online. Motwane was in the process of shooting a web-series for Amazon Prime Videos. The filming of the show has been halted due to the spread of Covid-19.

According to industry stakeholders these particular guidelines are suitable to restart the production for TV serials where the location is restricted, might pose a problem to shoot large scale web-series or a film. Ajit Andhare, COO, Viacom18 Studios calls the move a ‘conditional opening’. “The aim is to minimise risk as people need to be extremely cautious, as they begin to start productions of shows. Hence, a lot of work will be allowed on the basis of permission. Further, companies will look at a shooting at low-risk environments,” Andhare explained.

This is also a reason why film-makers and creators have begun to tweak the content. “We have already started to tweak our content to suit day-to-day operations and minimise outdoor shooting. I believe we are at least two months away from reaching the optimum situation to begin filming again,” Vikram Malhotra, CEO, Abundantia Entertainment, explained. According to industry estimates, in case of TV serials, the cost of producing an episode ranges between Rs 2 lakh – Rs 15 lakh. Compared to this, the cost of producing an episode in case of web-series on video streaming platforms such as Voot, AltBalaji, among others ranges between Rs 10 lakh – Rs 20 lakh. The production cost of an episode of web-series made for platforms such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix is 5x – 10x more, accounting for Rs 25 lakh – Rs 1 crore.

According to industry estimates, on an average 75-125 people are required to shoot an episode of a serial or a web-series. The number only increases if multiple locations are used. Now with the new guidelines, ambulance, doctors and nurses are compulsory inclusions on the sets, besides a dedicated personnel would be required to check the temperature of the cast and crew. With these additional people, the number of actual crew members might get affected. “We will have to create a healthcare department because of which there will be a rise in crew personnel. Given the current situation, work will start in a staggered manner and we will have to find ways and means to adapt to the new guidelines,” Asit Kumarr Modi, creator of Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, said.

As the broadcast industry continues to struggle to generate enough advertising revenue due to lack of fresh content, industry analysts call the move a small yet significant start. “This is a good start for an active dialogue between the government and media. While some of the guidelines can be adapted, the rest needs to be revisited based on practicality balanced with safety, “ Jehil Thakkar, partner, Deloitte, said. Analysts believe it would take about close to a month for shoots to commence given the current circumstances. Even then, production for only a handful of shows will begin, as large scale production of films will have to wait for further relaxation of norms.

Read Also: Paatal Lok brings hellfire on OTT platforms; reignites the debate on the regulation of content

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