On the eve of launching his next film ‘Only You’ in Europe, Director Nitin Kumar Gupta, who is also a medical doctor from the prestigious K.E.M. hospital in Mumbai, shares advice on avoiding covid-19 for filmmakers – Jyothi Venkatesh
The Writer-director shot two films ‘Walk’ and ‘L.A.C.’ and released his film ‘Sayonee’ theatrically, all during the pandemic in 2020.
Despite filming with a large cast and crew including veteran actors like Archana Puran Singh and Rahul Roy, no one in the unit was affected by covid-19.
Nitin says “Here are the pointers we followed strictly while filming that helped us stay covid free –
1. No Indoor Gatherings – In both ‘Walk’ and ‘L.A.C.’ we kept 95% of the locations outdoors. Indoor gatherings are a serious invitation for covid infection.
2. Double Masks – N95 masks stop 95% droplets. During indoor or crowded situations we wore a cloth mask over the N95 mask. This minimizes the chance of infection by 99%.
3. Never Take Off Masks – During the shoot, no one was allowed to remove masks even for a second, except during meals and except actors duringthe scenes. Masks must cover both the nose and mouth.
4. Six Feet Distance – Between every person during rehearsals, pre-production, shoot, and post-production. No crowding was allowed around monitors or during meals.
5. Minimum Crew and Assistants – Though we used the latest 8k cameras and Steadicams, our entire camera and lights team was just 6 people.
Every head of the department was allowed only 2 assistants. No friends or family members were allowed at any time.
6. Segregate Different Departments – The camera crew, direction team, production team, and actors were lodged and transported separately, to minimize chances of infection between departments.
7. RT-PCR Testing – We tested all cast and crew for covid-19 before the start of filming. Only a thermal check is not helpful as infection could have started a long time before start of fever.
8. Instructions To All – Before filming, we gathered all cast and crew and explained the covid protocols in detail. We made sure everyone followed protocol throughout the shoot.
9. Vaccination – Though we did not have vaccines in 2020, for the filming of ‘Only You’ I am making sure the entire cast and crew, including the European team, is vaccinated before filming.
10. What Does Not Really Work – Sanitation, fumigation, deep cleansing, gloves, steam, yoga, antibiotics, Ayurveda, homeopathic medicines.
These only give false security. Many people focus on these but do not take the actual effective steps like distancing and masks.”
“With these steps filmmakers and others can minimize chances of covid and have a safe shoot.
Of course in the current scenario, postponing shoots till the entire cast and crew is vaccinated would be the best option.”, the Sayonee director concludes.