Ad commercial shooting resumes after Covid2019 lull

Production houses are adhering to safety guidelines given by ASAP

Cutawayy films

NEW DELHI: With more relaxations in Unlock 2.0, productions houses are currently trying to adjust to the new style of doing business, with reduced crew members on the set and strict protocols. TV commercial shooting, too, has commenced in full swing and is strictly adhering to the safety measures given by the Association of Advertising Producers (ASAP).

Recently, ASAP laid down a list of extensive measures to be adopted for shoots. It advised that all work environments must have hand sanitisers and handwashing facilities with soap while offices are encouraged to install sensor-based sanitisers to ensure hands-free dispensing and manually operated dispensers must be kept handy at all times. Furthermore, it suggests that workplaces should have Covid2019 risk assessments and plans in place, leave of absence must be insisted if anyone has symptoms of illness even if it is regular influenza or cough and safe transport of all employees, freelance or otherwise, must be provided.

ASAP honorary general secretary and Corcoise Films executive producer Cyrus Pagdiwala says that personal interactions are out and even scripts are written keeping in mind the current situation. “We are not doing more than 10 shoots a day; it is not like the old days. The government has passed the order that only 33 per cent crew will be used currently, so everyone is trying to shoot in residential spaces. We are trying to make survival possible within the budget clients have. Each production house had at least one or two projects lined up during March-April. Thousands of films have been shelved due to the onset of the pandemic, but it will be difficult to get a figure for the other months because April-June was completely washed out.”

According to sources, the industry has lost around Rs 300 crore potentially due to the pandemic and now, budgets have been cut down by 30-50 per cent.

Cutawayy Films executive producer Gaurrav Dhar says that it has reduced the group count, asking food partners to follow a strict guideline and insured its crew members in case they test positive for Covid2019.

“We have shot commercials for Maggi and Crompton and during the shooting, both clients and agencies worked on remote access. We were flashing the live footage to the agency and the client. After every shot, the director used to ask their approvals. We took care of the sanitisation process. A company called COVID Sanitization Squad took care of hygiene and kept everyone safe on the sets. From oxygen level to temperature check, we took care of everything,” he shares.

Although Dhar says that the output has not been affected, the process is still time-consuming. Working on video calls is slow. “15-minute meetings are taking 40 minutes for simple approvals. Otherwise, it has been a smooth transition as we are saving a lot of money and time. I think video call is a boon and an enemy as well,” he says.

10 films executive producer Shovik Basu says that budgets have reduced. He has made commercials with brands including Amazon, Hotstar, Disney and McDonald's during this time.

Basu says, “One of the setbacks, we are facing is to get people to come for shoots because not everyone is agreeing and in situations where there are multiple people in the same scene, it becomes difficult to execute keeping all the precautionary measures in mind. We are trying to find out a new way to do this, with a minimum crew, sanitising the entire place, etc. For agencies and clients, we are setting up a live video field, wherein they can supervise the entire shoot from home and if they have any comments we can implement them immediately.”

Firecracker director Harsh Dave shared that it too has started shooting in extremely strict conditions. “It’s tough to shoot during these times, travelling to a different location is a problem, a lot of models don’t want to be touched by make-up artists. Being in India, I don’t think we have understood the concept of personal space, so it’s tricky. We have got ourselves Covid2019 marshals and PPE suits are given. Everything is happening on Zoom calls, from client meeting to agency meetings. Chinese whispers take place but a lot is lost in translation. But this pandemic is not getting over anytime soon so I think it only makes sense for us to take precautionary measures to keep the show up and running.”

The government’s move to allow the sale of non-essential products on e-commerce and the reopening of retail stores in safe zones have given brands an opportunity to introduce fresh campaigns. E-commerce brands, video-streaming services, digital payments, health and wellness brands and delivery aggregators, too, are making a splash. Slowly but steadily, clients have started coming in, though not at a rapid pace.

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