Written by Shona Smith on May 11, 2020. Posted in Production News

Czech Republic resumes audiovisual productions

The government is easing restrictions and audiovisual productions are once again in full swing in the Czech Republic. Restrictions which had resulted in the cessation of audiovisual productions and interrupted international film shoots in March have had positive results and self-regulatory guidelines for safe filmmaking have been published by the Czech Film Commission.

Audiovisual productions were restricted by the state of emergency announced on 12 March and further restrictions that included prohibition on gatherings of more than two people and maintaining a two-meter social distance. The prohibition of free movement without mouth and nose protection (mask, respirator, or other protection) also affected shoots. This measure continues for the public; however, with effect from 1 May, actors and performers are exempted from wearing a mask in the exercise of their profession. Instead, PCR testing will be required every 14 days. This condition will also be lifted on the basis of further development.

“Three-quarters of audiovisual productions in the Czech Republic stopped in March. In full compliance with the Ministry of Health, filmmakers are no longer affected by measures restricting cultural and sporting events and large gatherings. We therefore consider audiovisual production to be resumed,” said Helena Bezdek Frankova, director of the Czech Film Fund.

Self-regulatory recommendations as protection against SARS-CoV-2 during filming have been prepared by the Audiovisual Producers' Association in cooperation with the Czech Film Fund and the European Institute for Health and Safety in Film Industry. Their application to the audiovisual production process is recommended by the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic. “Adherence to these recommendations, including testing actors every 14 days during production and, of course, maintaining sanitation standards on location and in studios, will reduce the possibility of infection to an absolute minimum. However, they also apply to cross-border transport – foreign actors and crew members must show a negative test when leaving their country, a measure that, according to the latest reports, airlines will also begin to require for all their passengers. Within seventy-two hours of arrival, they will undergo a second test, and remain quarantined until they receive a negative result. The result is usually received the next day. In this way they can avoid the fourteen day quarantine, which would severely impact film budgets,” says Czech film commissioner Pavlina Zipkova.

International productions that had been forced to interrupt their shoots will be allowed to return to the Czech Republic from mid-May. These include season two of Legendary Entertainment/Amazon’s Carnival Row, the first series of Amazon fantasy series Wheel of Time and Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Netflix film 473 Transatlantic.

“It should be emphasized that within the creative and cultural industries, audiovisual production holds a strong and exceptional position, primarily due to its financial contribution to non-cultural industries, which account for up to 60% of individual film budgets. Specifically, these are small and medium-sized companies. That is why it is really crucial for the Czech economy that audiovisual production starts up again” says Minister of Culture Lubomir Zaoralek.

The country’s borders reopened on 27 April for citizens of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and the UK. The European Commission is not expected to extend the recommendation for member states not to accept passengers from non-European countries, which now runs until 15 May. “It is important to realize here that this is only a recommendation, not a prohibition, as in the case of the US administration, which issued a recommendation not to travel," explains Zipkova.

U.S. Ambassador Stephen B. King emphasized the importance of reviving film production in the Czech Republic: “With its beautiful castles, iconic landscapes, and talented support capabilities, the Czech Republic has always been an attractive film destination for Hollywood. “ While this crisis has rocked the industry, I am glad that we can start looking to the future and continue this cooperation, the roots of which film historians have traced to the late 1800s. I look forward to welcoming back our filmmakers, actors, and crews”.

According to the Institute of Health Information and Statistics, the basic replication number of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the Czech Republic been steadily declining to the current 0.7. An R-number of less than 1 indicates a decrease in the presence of the virus in the population. It indicates the number of people that the disease can be transmitted to by one infected person. As the spread of the virus continues to decline, the self-regulatory guidelines for safe shooting will be relaxed.

Photo Credits: Victor Macha

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