Eight day commercial shoot “surprisingly normal” as Czech Republic opens up to productions
The Czech Republic opened up to productions in early May when restrictions which limited productions, such as the need for actors to wear face masks were removed. One of the largest productions to take place since May was an eight day studio shoot for an American agency and client with remote director serviced by Bohemian Pictures in Prague.
Producers Mirka Taylor and Sherry Baumgart (pictured right) from Bohemian Pictures say that “for the most part, it was really just like a normal shoot and that was the biggest surprise for all of us. I think everybody can relax and just take a leap of faith and it kind of works out”.
“When Sherry was going through the budget process we just couldn't imagine how the shoot would be, we had no one to compare to at the time” says Taylor. “Before everything closed down, I know that there were shoots here in Prague streaming to the agency and client in the US, but the director would typically be physically present on the set”. For this shoot, however the client, agency and Director were all based in the US. Using QTake everything on set in Prague was streamed internationally.
“Anyone really who's logging in to the system can view the playbacks as well. So when we shut down at the end of the day they could look back at whatever had been done. The minimal delay on the stream was incredible. We got to the point, that the director was able to tell the focus puller when to focus which really shows that it had hardly any delay was there. The director had access to the studio speakers, so when he pressed the button he could speak to the whole set. So he was able to even direct to the talent as well. I think everybody was very surprised at how well it worked” says Taylor.
Baumgart adds “it was functioning as if the director was at the video village, 20 feet away. It just worked really sort of seamlessly. It's kind of shocking because we really expected that it would be very painful and it wasn't at all”.
Many producers are anticipating the extra time needed on shoots in the wake of coronavirus but in Bohemian Pictures’ experience, that extra time was needed during prep rather than during the shoot itself. “We did two full days of camera rehearsal before the eight days of shooting so that everybody could sort of approve the set, approve the approach before the filming began”.
“The shoot itself was surprisingly normal. After the first day or two, it was really just like back to normal and it just felt strangely not horribly difficult”.
With a total crew of around seventy in all departments, safety measures were put in place to keep everybody safe. “Before the first part of the shoot the crew that was around the talent and the camera or close to each other were tested because the tests weren't so widely available. During the shoot everyone was tested and also at the end because the client wanted to know that everybody was fine. So some people actually have three tests during our time. I have to say all the crew was very cooperative. Everybody understood that we are in, we were working in extreme situation and everybody just wanted to keep safe”.
The whole shoot was done on a soundstage, but location shooting in the Czech Republic is possible now too. In outside areas face masks are not required.
What will the biggest changes be for location shoots when conducting remote filming? “I think there would be some logistical difference” says Baumgart. For remote shoots you do have to bring a portable internet for streaming systems. It will also be more difficult for the director to get feel of a location than on a stage when he's seeing what's being built. “We're bidding another job for exteriors or location now and I think it's certainly possible. I might just require maybe more scouting time with a DP or an art director or something to try to pin down because that is where the director is missing a little bitwhere they can get some inspiration from the location, but it's still certainly possible to do the streaming with a portable internet. That's what we're going to do next”.
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