While the number of coronavirus cases in Mexico is relatively low, the country recently moved from ‘phase one’ to two in a bid to stay ahead of what other nations are currently experiencing and learn lessons from around the world. Shoots in Mexico City - a hub of both local and international commercial and long format production - have been postponed until mid April, but Addison Capper chatted with Ari Garza from production and production service company MyHome to get full lowdown on the current production landscape and the outlook for the future.
LBB> What effects are you seeing across the industry?
Ari> The effects right now are precautionary steps that everyone should do, like washing hands, sanitising offices and homes. We have now stopped shoots in Mexico City until mid April. There are many cancellations and postponed foreign production services. They were regular but are on standby right now.
LBB> Are you discussing with people at other production companies about what is going on? What are you hearing?
Ari> Yes we are discussing all the time with peers. Movies, series and local shoots are still on production with all the necessary precautions. We are now moving from phase one and into the steps of phase two - that is staying in our home office but we have daily contact with our partners from other companies, doing bids, treatments and trying to push all other productions until mid April
LBB> Specifically to your company, what effects are you seeing?
Ari> We have stopped shooting local productions in Mexico City until mid April, but we are still on the shoot of a long format movie in the north of the country (Sonora). The foreign production services are on hold right now because of travel restrictions.
LBB> Are there any examples that you can give?
Ari> We have already lost three productions that were coming from Los Angeles, New York and South Africa because the clients are putting on hold due to travel restrictions.
LBB> How are you working with the AMFI (Mexican film industry association) on this issue?
Ari> We have protocols that we are using in virtual reunions, the association is in constant communication with the industry through its web page, and we have WhatsApp and Zoom meetings twice a week. We talk about the situation and the precautions that we need to apply and analysing how to use this experience in the future when everything comes in order.
We are also encouraging the government right now to use all the funds that they get from location permits to help the crews that were shooting and have had to stop for the coming weeks.
LBB> What is the message you'd like to portray about working in Mexico right now? What do you want to tell clients?
Ari> That we have stopped producing locally for the next three weeks and after that we will have strict precautions on our shoots. Also, if a foreign production wants to produce here but doesn't want to travel we can do all the projects in long distance conferences and meetings and live streaming on shoots. The airports and airlines are taking all the hygiene precaution steps, including for people that have travelled to Europe or some parts of Asia.
LBB> How is the currency in Mexico right now?
Ari> It is to shoot right now because of the economic crisis that is developing - the USD against the peso has gone 10% higher from 19 pesos to 25 pesos per dollar. So, imagine the savings that come with that for clients.
LBB> If a client does come to Mexico to shoot right now, are there any precautions that you are taking as a company to ensure safety and health?
Ari> Yes there are many precautions taken together with the government, the private sector and our association. We have a list of must do precautions on shoots. We also have to be insured in case someone on the crew gets ill and needs medical attention. But right now we recommend pushing productions back for the next three weeks, and meanwhile we can quote, analyse budgets, make some pre production. Most of the states have only a few cases so we can look to locations on beaches, deserts, and some historic towns. But right now we are trying to postpone all shoots until mid April.
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
Ari> As it is a tough time and a worldwide challenge we should not be desperate. We should be calm and extra cautious with regards to our health and the health of the people that surround us. That is the main purpose. Mexico is a great place to shoot and we have all that is necessary to get a project done - even if the client can’t travel we have super professionals crews, directors, DPs, etc. And if we get the vote of confidence to shoot in a remote way, not only will clients have a great product, save money and be fulfil their marketing goals, they will also help boost the economy of many families of professionals that are in the need to keep working, but always in practice of the health and safety issues of everyone first.