Majority of Chinese cities are slowly stirring back to life as more folks trickle back to work this week. It has been quite a long and arduous Chinese New Year holiday for many – although “holiday” might not really be the best way to describe it with the Coronavirus wreaking havoc on everyone’s health and holiday reunion plans. Nonetheless, it’s back to the salt mines for many including the drama industry.
Earlier, Hengdian World Studios issued a notice to crew indicating the resumption of work once their application has been approved by Zhejiang province officials. By their accounts, if things go smoothly, filming can already commence on the 13th. Amongst the key takeaways from the note released by the studio is that they will prioritise first and foremost personnel and location safety. Essentially, that means crew will have to resume work in stages – employees who have not been to areas classified as severe epidemic areas and whose companies have adequate control measures can go back to work on the 13th after review and approval. The next wave of returning crew will be determined according to the situation of epidemic prevention and control. Normal operations will resume after authorities lift the epidemic prevention and control measures.
Meanwhile, Xiangshan Global Studios too have also announced a resumption in filming activities and in a similar vein indicated extra measures to ensure the safety of the crew, prohibiting “tourists” on set and implementing daily health checks to people in the studio. They have also announced extra concessions for staff and crew such as discounts in accommodations, studio rental fees, equipment rental etc.
If you’ll recall, a few days prior to the lunar new year, drama productions like The Legend of Fei, the Ningbo based Like a Flowing River 2, Thank You Doctor and the Yu Zheng produced drama Legacy had all proactively announced a halt to their filming activities to keep their crew and artistes safe. Shortly after, the two major filming studios located in Zhejiang province quickly followed suit, suspending all works until further notice.
While this might be good news for us drama fans, the big question now is, is it really safe and how will the health and safety of the cast and crew be guaranteed. Not to mention the logistics of it all. True enough, “you can’t wear a mask when filming” points out one Netizen while another says “It’s too unsafe not to wear a mask when filming, and there are so many people”. What a conundrum. How will production manage to balance safety concerns with the actual aesthetics of the drama? Actors normally use their facial expressions as a tool to deliver their lines more effectively, but with a mask on, how? And the kissing scenes … again, how?
So really, it’s not entirely surprising to see Netizens pushing for the studios to be more cautious and prioritise the safety of the crew instead. A later start date might be best for everyone, especially since the number of Coronavirus patients are not yet close to stabilising.