Back in March 12, we witnessed the first impact of the COVID-19 crisis when Reliance Entertainment decided to indefinitely postpone Rohit Shetty’s multistarrer film Sooryavanshi. From that point onwards, it was a slippery slope as production on more and more movies and TV shows started getting halted until everything was shutdown on March 24. But the entertainment industry slowly started to breathe new life into their profession by releasing their properties on OTT platforms and can now heave a sigh of relief after the Maharashtra government’s decision to resume filming.
According to Times of India, under the initiative #MissionBeginAgain, the state government has issued guidelines to restart the film and TV industry that is one of the lifelines of Maharashtra. Productions have to submit applications to the Maharashtra Films, Theatre and Cultural Development Corporation at the Dadasaheb Phalke Film City, Goregaon, or at the district collectorates concerned across the state. An official said,
“After scrutinising the applications, the concerned authority will give the go-ahead for the shooting proposals. They will have to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines issued separately for the purpose.”
So, what are these guidelines? Well, the state government issued a 16-page long set of rules for producers to follow. But, according to The Indian Express, here’s the gist:
- Maintaining 33 percent crew (which will not include the main cast) on set.
- All staff members have to carry identification cards and have Aarogya Setu app on their devices.
- Ambulance, doctors, and nurse have to be present on the sets, while a dedicated personnel will be required to check the temperature of the cast and crew.
- Any pregnant employee or an employee whose spouse is expecting will not be allowed on set.
- Actors above the age of 65 will not be permitted on sets.
- No audience will be allowed for fiction or non-fiction programming.
- Producers shout stop the habit of open calls and assign specific time windows for everyone to arrive on set.
- Casting directors should prefer digital auditions and dispose of hard copies of scripts after every reading.
- While casting for families, actors’ real family members should be considered so that physical contact remains within a given set of people.
- Shooting has to take place in a fully locked down area which will be gated and secured throughout the day.
- Compulsory six-feet distance between the crew members and wearing masks.
- All doors and gates will be manned by security guards to minimise touching of doors and handles.
- No elaborate sequences like marriage, market or fight are permitted until the Coronavirus threat subsides.
- Artistes to reduce their support staff to one on sets, who should ideally also do their hair and make-up.
- Individual make-up tools for actors to avoid cross-contamination.
- Trials and fitting should be done at the actor’s residence while look tests should take place on video calls.
- Junior artistes should be discouraged or minimised.
- For outdoor locations, alternate lodging should be provided to house occupants for the duration of the shoot.
- Anyone from the cast and crew who’s returning from a place where the virus is spreading should self-monitor for symptoms and check temperature twice a day.
- If anyone test positive for COVID-19, the person should be isolated and the set should be vacated immediately. And shooting will be halted for three days and resumed only after safety checks.
Here’s how some of the industry professionals have reacted to the Maharashtra Government’s decisions to restart film and TV shooting:
Sensible guidelines from the FILM EDITORS UNITED for a phased and safe resumption of work in the film industry, particularly editing and other post production departments. This document lists out practical ways to resume work while ensuring safety for professionals. I endorse it. pic.twitter.com/tLb3OcqdZb
— Hansal Mehta (@mehtahansal) June 2, 2020
Special thanks to Adesh Bandekar
& Nitin Vaidya for their relentless efforts to help the industry return to work,with new guidelines that still keep an individuals health above all else. ❤️🙏🏻 (2/2)
— Ekta Kapoor (@ektarkapoor) May 31, 2020
@fwicemum thanks Shri @uddhavthackeray ji @OfficeofUT @CMOMaharashtra for adhering to the appeal made by us to allow the shoots, post production & recordings with proper govt guidelines. #MissionBeginAgain @ashokepandit @BNTiwar16902945 @Ashokdubey44 @gangeshwaronweb
— Federation of Western India Cine Employees (@fwicemum) May 31, 2020
Apparently before going into the lockdown and during the lockdown, the entertainment industry has suffered huge losses due to the shutdown of shooting and theatres as well. But I still don’t find it reason enough to resume work in any capacity. And I am a fan of movies and TV shows. India, especially Maharashtra, is still peaking in terms COVID-19 positive cases. We haven’t even reached the peak and state and the central government are resuming businesses to “save the economy”. At what cost? More lives? Well, if the Indian wants that then so be it.