From the land down under, Partner Andrew Wareham (MD and ED) at PSN Australia, tells us about the shoots that are the easiest to achieve in the current times. According to Andrew “controlled studio shoot environments appear to be best, so that we are protecting everyone via stringent health and safety guidelines and so we can live-stream in client and agency with less interference.” Location shoots are still possible in Australia, but the government is tightening up regulations on groups of people in public, so the studio allows the flexibility to isolate crew and talent safely in individual areas, therefore avoiding unnecessary interactions, says Wareham (as of 3rd April 2020).
To avoid any production postponement or delays that may occur from talent/crew no-shows, PSN Australia has back-up crew rosters on stand-by, as well as preferred secondary talent options identified in pre-production, should the need arise.
Tiger Cheng from PSN China and Taiwan reports, on 4th April, that despite the limited shooting in China, studio and single city shoots are still possible. Although domestic travel is still restricted within the country, productions can still take place within one city. Taiwan, on the other hand, has no restrictions in terms of domestic travel and no limits on shooting.
Further east on the map, we go to South Korea. We spoke to Kimi Kim, Executive Producer/MD at PSN South Korea, who tells us (on 5th April) that shoots with fewer extras are preferable at this stage when shooting outdoors, as the public response may otherwise be negative. There are no issues with filming indoors in a studio, but the crews are again kept to a minimum and everyone is required to wear a mask. Hand sanitizers are available on set and the crew also goes through daily temperature checks (with a non-contact thermometer) for additional screening and safety. People distancing is also promoted on set.
The situation in Brazil is slightly different than that in China. In the country general lockdown restrictions are being gradually lifted state by state and for studios and private locations there are no government restrictions. Daniel Araújo from PSN Brazil, tells us that Sao Paulo is not currently issuing permits for public locations, whilst permits in Rio de Janeiro are issued on a case by case basis. Crews are following union specified working conditions, including use of face masks, hand sanitizers, gloves, and controlled catering and transport for crew members and talent.
Araújo continues that Brazil has recently introduced an inbound travel ban from all countries, with the exception for Brazilian nationals, residents and some foreign professionals and does not recommend that production companies try and enter the country (7th April).
Meanwhile in Cuba, there are certain restrictions imposed on outdoor shoots. In the city of Havana indoor shoots are still possible with the condition that crews don’t exceed 20 people including talent. Sanitary and health measures are checked for by a representative of the Ministry of Public Health, who attends filming. Antibacterial gel, masks and disposable gloves for the entire team (with four changes a day) are also a must on set, says Luis Lagos Diaz, PSN Cuba on 4th April.
The lack of travel and tourism has also had a positive effect when it comes to shooting in Iceland. Some of the country’s most iconic sceneries and places are now completely deserted, which presents an amazing, one of a kind opportunity to film there uninterrupted by passers by or other distractions.
Beggi Jonsson from PSN Iceland tells us that Icelandic landscape offers a variety of icy and barren locations for everything from big shoots on glaciers, geysers and black sand beaches to small scale shoots for greenscreen and tabletop product setups. Due to the fact that tourism in Iceland and all over the world is at a standstill, the most iconic sites and locations are now completely vacant and open for production. The only challenge, according to Jonsson, is if a production has many talents that need to be in the shoot, they still need to keep the 2-meter distance (5th April).
The situation in Costa Rica, as of 7th April, remains fluid and studio and private location shoots with minimal crew seem to be the easiest ones to achieve. Luis Valderama from PSN Costa Rica recommends remote film production using applications such as Zoom, Whatsapp and Skype until travel restrictions are lifted. Foreign travel for shoots is discouraged as the country has imposed a 14-day quarantine for foreign travelers.
Changes that have occurred since the global pandemic overtook the world include reduction of crew size, location shoot restrictions and travel restrictions. When shooting, there is an on set medic provided.
Uruguay’s filming situation resembles that of most of the other PSN partners in that shooting is still permitted, but it is recommended to keep crews as small and possible in order to comply with health guidance. Domestic travel inside the country is not advised.
Andres Mailhos, Executive Producer, PSN Uruguay, recommends to work with a local director until the travel restrictions are lifted. He adds that the fluent bi-lingual directors available locally can facilitate client communication and enable remote production. The key is to keep crews very compact, like guerrilla units. The totality of crew and talent shouldn’t exceed 10 people, including drivers.
And for the companies that do want to fly over and still be involved in the process Andres says “Don’t do it! Not only because it will be an unnecessary risk for the people traveling, but also because if they do, they will get locked in quarantine directly from the airport or port as soon as they arrive. So there is no real upside to bringing anybody IN for a production” (information from 6th April).
When asked how he manages crew and talent shortages and no-shows, Andres makes a nice football analogy saying: “We take it as a football team, every player has to have a suitable substitute ready on the bench... just in case.” This way production delays or postponement is minimised.
Please note: The PSN table is regularly updated and at the time of writing these were the countries included.