Following weeks of heated debate and clashes, France’s film and audiovisual guilds as well as labor unions have finally agreed a set of production guidelines for filming during the pandemic.
The guidelines were approved by the CCHCST (Central Committee for Hygiene, Security and Working Conditions in the Production of Films, Shorts and Commercials) and have now been submitted to the labor minister for green-lighting.
The 40-page rulebook calls for the hiring of additional people on set, including a caregiver, a counselor specialized in coronavirus, and an assistant to clean all props; as well as private transportation for cast and key crew members. Further, gatherings on set will be limited to 50 people, while exterior shoots are banned unless they are in an area that can be made fully private and cleaned before and during filming. Catering is limited to individual meal trays.
For kissing and other intimate scenes, as well as crowds or fights, if the production refuses to re-write the scenes or have actors wear masks, it can have actors get tested and/or take their temperatures before the shoot, and/or have actors self-quarantine before the start of filming on a voluntary basis.
In a previous version of the guidelines, intimate scenes were advised against unless actors wore masks — a restriction that was firmly opposed by producers and filmmakers, said Mandarin Productions’ Eric Altmayer, who is aiming to start shooting Francois Ozon and David Foenkinos’s next films on July 15 and Aug. 17, respectively.
Altmayer says the health guidelines will substantially increase budgets for both films. For instance, on Foenkinos’s movie, the staffing, transportation costs, testing, security (masks, gel, etc.) and cleaning protocols will drive up the budget by 15% and add an extra hour each day to the filming schedule, explained Altmayer.
Meanwhile, the temporary indemnity fund — for films and TV series where filming has to be paused or rescheduled due to the coronavirus crisis — was presented to producers on Monday. Effective as of June 1, the fund will only be accessible for upcoming shoots, and won’t cover delays or cancelations on shoots that were stopped in mid-March when the lockdown started.
The indemnity fund is meant to provide producers with some relief as insurers are categorically refusing to cover pandemic risks in France. The €50 million ($54 million) fund will cover up to 20% of a film’s budget and will work on a case-by-case basis, according to Altmayer and another industry source.
The fund must still be validated by the board of the National Film Board (CNC) and is expected to be in place until September. The initiative was set up by the CNC in collaboration with the regions and private partners, including banks and loan institutions.
Read the full set of guidelines here.
The CNC did not respond to request for comment by press time.
Along with Foenkinos and Ozon’s films, the next productions set to restart shooting are the Amazon series “Voltaire, Mixte” and a pair of films from Pathé, the period drama “Eiffel” with Romain Duris and “Sex Education” star Emma Mackey, and Fred Cavayé’s Second World War drama “Adieu Monsieur Haffmann” with Daniel Auteuil and Gilles Lellouche.