Producer-technician row over 'shoot-from-home' idea amid COVID restrictions in Bengal

·3-min read

Kolkata, May 30 (PTI) An association of TV serial producers in West Bengal on Sunday supported an idea of 'shoot-from-home' amid the COVID-19 restrictions in the state, while a body of technicians opposed the new concept, saying that such exercise will lead to a gathering of people at one's residence in 'violation of the government orders'.

The Welfare Association of Television Producers (WATP) said the 'shoot-from-home' concept appears to be the 'best alternative' when people are confined at home and want to get some enjoyment on the small screen.

The statement of the apex body of TV show producers came after the 'shoot-from-home' was organised for several episodes of four mega serials.

The Federation of Cine Technicians and Workers of Eastern India (FCTWEI), however, said that such a 'unilateral' move by a section of producers 'violated the basic norms of COVID restrictions', and claimed that their members were kept in the dark till the episodes were aired on channels in the last few days.

'It was an illegal move by the producers to shoot in the pandemic situation. It violated the lockdown rules when saving human lives was the most important thing,' FCTWEI President Swaroop Biswas told PTI.

Any shooting exercise requires involvement of many actors, and the new idea will lead to a gathering of people at one's residence in 'violation of the government orders'.

'If you watch a serial telecast on Saturday, you would know how several actors were roped in for shooting at home.

Several actors were brought to one's home which was turned into a shooting floor. Isn't this illegal and unethical in the present situation?' he asked.

A section of producers said the episode bank dried up with no shooting possible in the past 15 days in studios and outdoors due to the COVID restrictions, while viewers want fresh content.

In this scenario, shooting from home seems to be the only alternative, they claimed.

Supporting their claims, the WATP said, 'Most of the producers had enough banking for the first 15 days of the lockdown. But many of us are now forced to shoot in the best possible alternative manner as every production house is bound to meet contractual obligations for fresh contents to the channels'.

'However we don't have any direct role in this as the artistes are shooting most parts on their mobiles and sending to us to telecast for future episodes,' the producers' body said.

It urged the technicians' association to cooperate with actors in the interest of all stakeholders in the entertainment industry.

Biswas alleged that 'the producers kept technicians and workers in the dark while taking a decision on the shootings'.

'In view of the present COVID situation, every stakeholder should be taken into account and a module should have been chalked out. The government should have been taken into confidence. We hope better sense will prevail among those producers who have started such shootings.

'I want to ask them what is more important- containing the infection or saving human lives or entertainment?' he said.

However, the WATP claimed that TV shows are 'sources of livelihood of producers, it is also equally true for artistes and technicians'.

The producers' body also claimed that technicians were not deprived of their wages during the three-month-long lockdown last year.

Biswas, however, alleged that the technicians were not given more than 30 per cent of their total wages during last year's lockdown period.

'This time, they are promising payment during the lockdown period but we need to know the amount and on what basis they will be given remuneration to technicians,' he said.

The WATP said that the state government has not imposed any curb on the work-from-home module.

'Shooting from home in the present situation will be appreciated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as she did not want work to suffer if there are alternative ways,' it added.


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