Reduced deadlines, covid protocols increase costs for content producers

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NEW DELHI: The Maharastra government may have allowed filming to resume, but doing so amid new covid protocols has resulted in increased production costs, by 10-15% for film, television and television producers. web broadcasts.

According to protocols, shoots must be packaged before 5 p.m. and can only occur in bio-bubbles. Not only is the schedule impractical to provide the required output since most teams, on all platforms, work 12 hour shifts, it is also unaffordable given the safety and health protocols followed. In addition, small teams take longer to complete the job.

As a result, not all film and webcast producers can resume filming in Mumbai, although urgent projects may be completed.

“Finishing a shoot up by 5 is quite an onerous task and all film and television producer associations are asking the government to give more time,” said Siddharth Anand Kumar, vice president, films and television, Saregama India , who owns the studio store Yoodlee Films which is currently looking to shoot a film in Mumbai.

Accustomed to a 12-hour shift of either 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Kumar said there was not enough light for filming to start at 5 a.m. Already working with safety and hygiene protocols like regular disinfection and having some team members stay on set, companies like Yoodlee aren’t seeing the 10-12% increase in budgets go away anytime soon. . On the flip side, periodic breaks and the fact that only a few people are allowed into the main set while others stay in makeup vans or outside studios to minimize interactions add to the delays.

Film producer Anand Pandit said the cost of creating bio-bubbles or at least a safety bubble on-site is considerable. “Not to mention the cost of covid-proof transportation, food and accommodation facilities for the cast and crew. Disinfection crews, Covid inspectors, security protocols that delay filming are all cost additives, but we can’t complain because the stakes are much higher, ”said Pandit.

A few international shoots have taken place during the pandemic and many producers are also choosing to shoot in local destinations where the logistics are more manageable, he added.

Nivedita Basu, head of content and acquisitions, Biiggbang Amusement, a video streaming platform dedicated to short films, said the platform will not start filming any of its commissioned projects until the end of June.

Many people they will be working with are asking to postpone shoots until July or later so that there is a better chance that people have taken the vaccine. “If you shoot locally, you don’t really know how people come and go. An outdoor setting is a better option because it’s a more controlled environment, ”said Basu, adding that some of the bigger players want to be doubly safe and want to do an RT-PCR if there is a scene. intimate, in addition to asking people to be vaccinated or tested if they are filming with a crowd of 40 to 50 people.

The other big challenge, according to Sanjeev Lamba, executive producer, Hungama Originals, Hungama Digital Media, is getting the cast together. “Most talent doesn’t just work on one show at a time and have different branding and promotional commitments, so we try to manage the schedules,” Lamba said.

Unlike film and the web, TV producers have been forced to move a number of shoots outside of Maharashtra to keep the content flowing. While a few return to Mumbai, others have decided to wait in places like Silvassa and Goa. A senior executive at a broadcast company that had not moved the shoots, however, said they would wait until July to resume at all because they do not want to put the health of their employees at risk.

“There won’t be enough quality production if the 12-hour shift is not allowed,” said JD Majethia of Hats Off Productions and chairman of the Indian Film and TV Producers Council, adding that the industry hopes that the deadlines will be relaxed.

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