Six days after the state government allowed post-production work to commence outside containment zones, outdoor film and television shooting and allied activities were also allowed in clean areas with 25% strength. While Tollywood is yet to take a call on when and how shooting is to begin, at least two studios have already begun post-production work. It’s been six days since percussionist Bickram Ghosh began recording the album titled “Paperboats Fly” at his music studio. On Thursday, work on editing two web series also began at director Subrata Sen’s studio.
At his personal studio, Ghosh has begun work on his new album with Kala Ramnath immediately after the government gave its nod on May 12. “She is sending tracks from Mumbai for our album titled ‘Paperboats Fly’ which is a sequel to ‘Paperboats’,” said Ghosh, who is also working on the last leg of the songs of Arindam Sil’s “Maayakumari”. This week, work will begin on making tracks and background score for Dhrubo Banerjee’s “Golondaaz”.
On Thursday, Sen began working with three people at his Lake Gardens studio called Filmwallah. “I am not in favour of working with more people. Since we have work in hand that have to be completed, it is best to start now. Cops told me that car movement is allowed between 7 am and 7 pm. Beyond the driver, only two people are allowed. So, I picked up two people and came to the studio,” Sen said.
Apart from providing masks and sanitisers, Sen has also bought ‘gamcha’s for each of them. “The studio provides hand towels that are used by all. But now, I want them to individually use ‘gamcha’s that they can wash at night. This is more hygienic. I am also using a ‘gamcha’ as a scarf,” he said.
It works to Ghosh’s advantage that his studio is spacious. There are three people working in separate rooms. If at all two people work in the same room, a safe distance has to be maintained besides wearing masks. Sanitizers are kept in the studio. “Using sanitizers is a must before and after touching any surface like door handles etc. We have to get used to working like this. Otherwise everybody will be affected. I have people who are dependent on me. The economy will crash if work doesn’t continue,” Ghosh added.
Meanwhile, director Pradipta Bhattacharya has already expressed his interest in hiring Sen’s studio for editing Kumar Chowdhury’s feature film titled “Fire of Teak”. “Thankfully, my studio is spacious as opposed to smaller work units elsewhere. Even then, I do not want over-crowding. I am strict about computers not being shared. I also prefer people bringing in food from home instead of ordering stuff here,” Sen said.
Anindit Roy, owner and senior mixing engineer of Aural Work Station, told TOI that he is about to resume their sound post-production work like mixing very soon. “The most-awaited work at our studio is Srijit Mukherji’s ‘Feluda Pherot’. There are a couple of other movies and music projects as well. But dubbing won’t start before our studio caretakers can come back. Their primary mode of transportation is train,” Roy said.
As far as shooting is concerned, it might still take a while for the industry to figure out the logistics. Mahendra Soni, co-founder director of SVF Entertainment, said, “We are still evaluating the situation and waiting for the guidelines for regular shooting. We are not in a rush to shoot. We will take a call when we have a clear picture on SOP and the situation on ground. Safety of everyone at the floor would always remain the primary concern.” Swarup Biswas, president of Federation of Cine Technicians and Workers of Eastern India (FCTWEI), added that decision on when to start shooting is yet to be taken.
According to director Atanu Ghosh, more clarity is required on how to begin shooting in Bengal. “What exactly is meant by ‘outdoor’ in the government order on relaxation regarding shooting? Does it mean outside studio set or only out on the streets outside any indoor location? Secondly, which technicians would constitute this 25%? More importantly, who should be left out and whether or not the unit would have absolute discretion to decide on that? I think quite a few questions on logistics need to be answered before we can think of regular resumption of shooting. We ought to wait till there is more clarity and less confusion,” Ghosh said.
Director Arindam Sil is waiting for lockdown to end. “There must be a set of rules and regulations from the FCTWEI. We have to remember that lockdown is continuing till May 31. Every order is not for immediate implementation. We can begin the preparation now. Safety is important for all of us. The government will give broad directives. We, who would be on the field, will have to be extra cautious,” Sil said.
Actor Shankar Chakraborty, who is the working president of West Bengal Motion Picture Artists’ Forum, said no call has yet been taken on when to begin the shooting. “Everyone has to take a decision. We can neither force an artist to shoot nor ask him or her to stay away from shooting. It is the individual’s choice to take or not to take the risk,” Chakraborty said.
Some others are keen on borrowing a leaf from the way few global productions have begun shooting. Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur is using a colour-coded armband system to get his sci-fi series “Katla” back into production in Reykjavik. Those wearing a yellow colour-coded armband can go near the camera. The artistes, makeup and costume professionals have been given black armbands. They are expected to spend most of their rehearsal time in a cordoned-off area. The rest, who are allowed to go near the monitor, wear red armbands. Only a few in the unit have all-access blue armbands. However, before all this was done, the entire crew has had to go through temperature scanning. Hourly sanitisation is a must. Except for the actors, everyone on the sets wear masks. The makeup artists and production designers were given gloves as well.
A nurse, a paramedic and a doctor are present daily on the sets of the adaptation of Stephen King’s short story titled “Children of the Corn” in a small town in Australia. The unit has also been in a safe cluster for two months with no one having gone home during this period. Members of the unit also have to answer wellness questionnaires at the beginning and end of shooting.
Meanwhile, in Australia, shooting of “Neighbours” has resumed under strict vigilance. No intimate scenes were allowed. The cast and crew were isolated into three groups. Camera tricks were used to give an impression of intimacy on screen. The Czech Republic too has begun work with artistes being exempted from wearing masks while working. But, they need to get themselves tested every 14 days.
However, the greater challenge of implementing this involves incurring more costs. In a small industry working on shoestring budget that needs to be further curtailed post the outbreak of corona, producers might not find it easy to scale the budget to ensure all the protocols are followed. Producer Sani Ghosh Ray, secretary of Welfare Associations of Television Producers, says a joint meeting today will decide on the future course of action. “Currently, I produce four Bengali serials. However, we need to take a collective decision on how to go forward with shooting. Lots of issues need to be addressed before going on floors,” he said.
Director Birsa Dasgupta is waiting for the day shooting of megaserials begin in Kolkata. “The day I see a bunch of actors and technicians going to a location, I will be going out as well. Our guild, I’m sure, will come up with some solution about to how manage the unit. Scripts will be written differently for the next three or four months. Author Smaranjit Chakraborty and I have written a fantasy comedy that set inside a house keeping the current situation in mind,” Dasgupta said.
One such critical point is the use of masks on the floor while shooting. “It would put enormous psychological pressure on the artists if they turn out to be the only unmasked humans among a crowd of masked, gloved, and PPE suited unit!” Ghosh said.
The only ray of hope can be for independent film-makers. According to actor/director Tathagata Mukherjee, who also makes independent films, “This situation might be conducive to those makers who operate on low budget and skeletal staff. The situation might be a boom for them. Independent filmmaking structure is the future of cinema. Films will be shot on mobiles. A director will shoot a film with a handful of actors. He himself will perhaps do the filming as well. Even the crew can become redundant and the system of having freeloaders on the sets because of adhering to the system of employing a certain number of technicians will become obsolete. However, I see a lot of panic regarding the virus all around. I am not sure if it will be easy to follow all safety protocols, overcome the fear of working outdoors while the vaccine hasn’t yet been invented and also be a part of a creative process.”
Source: Times of India