John Abraham

Its uncertain when film and TV shooting will resume in India, but one thing’s certain — new rules will apply. Just as Scandinavian countries Sweden and Denmark have allowed shoots, albeit with a maximum of 50 people on set, leaner crews, sequential working of departments, temperature checks, and more guidelines.

Key industry associations Producers Guild of India (PGI), Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), Cine and Television Artistes’ Association (CINTAA), Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA) and Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association (IMPPA) have been in discussions with each other to draw out a set of guidelines, which will be proposed to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in the coming days.

FWICE President B.N. Tiwari says they are hopeful production may begin in July or August, depending on the  Covid-19 pandemic situation.

“We have contemplated on rules like no crew members who is 60 years old and above on set for about 3 months; having adequate masks for 12-hour shoots; work in a shift system so that maximum workers get work; actors will be urged to get make-up and styling from home; channels (for TV) and producers (for film) should take minimum guarantee for technicians and their families; and stay arrangements for spot boys, lightmen and the likes will have to be done on sets,” Tiwari shares.

He, however, says this is subject to clearance of pending payments from producers to those across over 30 workers’ associations.

Producer Siddharth Anand Kumar rightly puts it, “Life on a film set, with its very busy and perhaps sometimes overcrowded crew strength, will be very different now.” His production house plans to keep sanitisers at every nook and corner during shoots, distribute water bottles and masks, and they are also mulling over installing spraying columns so that anyone entering the sets gets disinfected right at the start.

IMPPA President T.P Aggarwal raises two points about the post-corona scenario for film shooting: “How many people can we reduce?” and “Even if the workers want to work, the actors won’t come.”

While line producer Ravi Sarin believes crew size could reduce by 30-35 per cent, another line producer Amit Rai points out it can be a possibility only if a project’s production cost and days of shooting are increased. Rai adds, “A film set requires a minimum of 80-100 people a day… Unless it’s a film which has only 4-5 days of work left, reducing the crew for a full-fledged production will be near impossible.”

Also, echoing Aggarwal’s sentiment, Rai asks, “Will financially secure actors take the risk of their health and come to work between 100-150 people?”

Safety is definitely paramount, says producer Bhushan Kumar, who believes masks, sanitisers and basic distancing will become staples in units. He adds that the PGI proposal will also urge allowance of shoots with small units, of less than 100 people. “If not songs, at least talkie portions can be shot with few people,” he adds.

Kumar is also especially concerned about daily wagers. “Everyone will be hurt if shooting doesn’t begin, and if shooting begins, with less crew, what will happen to the remaining crew and their income. It’s all a big question mark,” he says.