Written by Shona Smith on Jun 29, 2020. Posted in Production News

Berlin’s Babelsberg studio prepares for principal production to resume

Markus Bensch production executive at Studio Babelsberg speaks to TLG as the Berlin studio prepares for principal production to resume.

Babelsberg is the oldest large-scale film studio in the world opening to productions in 1912. Since then international features such as The Grand Budapest Hotel, Captain America: Civil War and series such as Homeland have filmed at the studio. Prior to lockdown in Germany pausing production Babelsberg was primed for a busy summer.

What stage in getting productions back up and running is Babelsberg at?

We have two major productions which were weeks away from starting principal photography when Covid-19 hit in March and Germany went into lockdown. All foreign cast and crew left at very short notice, the sets were left standing waiting to be resurrected. Both productions have started prepping again and are basically now were they left off.

Priorities for productions going back into work, how is Babelsberg helping facilitate this?

The top priority is of course cast and crew safety. Everybody gets swabbed at least once a week , everybody‘s temperature is taken every day. The good thing about a shoot that is mainly on stage is that you can actually spread out on the studio lot as much as you like. We have quadrupled the catering spaces , staggered cast and crew lunch times so there are no queues for lunch or breakfast. Hand sanitizer stations everywhere, free masks for everyone and a specially assigned Covid Unit consisting of people with a background in location management, doctors and nurses. We are trying to keep person-to-person contact at an absolute minimum and ask people to communicate by phone whenever feasible.

What effect on production workflows has covid-19 had, and will have going forward?

Obviously the whole social distancing thing, washing hands, wearing masks, temperature taking, swab taking requires a bit of time…I would estimate it slows everything down by about 10%. Things that usually get done in ten hours might take eleven hours under the new rules. It is of course a constant learning process, but up to now it has gone really well.

How much capacity did Babelsburg have pre-covid, and is that likely to change?

Studio Babelsberg was almost booked out, and it still is - things just got delayed by about 3 months. Most crew were furloughed - in Germany this means 60% pay ( up to a cap ) paid for by the government.

So we have the same crews as 3 months ago and everybody is pretty well rested apart from that.

It will take a little while to get used to working in pods , not hugging and kissing anybody who is not in your pod , but that is a price people are more than happy to pay.

Image credits: Studio Babelsberg

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