More than ever, the pandemic is disrupting television sets. In recent weeks, cases of COVID-19 have caused filming of many series to be halted, such as warnings, My mother, The emperor and Untenable.
Posted at 7:00 am
In June, producer Michel d’Astous had to interrupt filming on the psychodrama My mother when an actor tested positive for the corona virus. The upcoming TVA series, starring Chantal Fontaine, chronicles a woman who, at age 58, is diagnosed with bipolar while ending a prison sentence.
Given the rules in place that a comedian who contracted COVID-19 should isolate for 10 days after showing the first symptoms, production was halted for nearly a week. Also the director François Bouvier (separations, 30 lives) feel sick.
This disruption caused a headache for Duo Productions, the company behind it My mother. Especially for a money question.
“Four days until the resumption, that’s going up,” says Michel d’Astous, who also signed the texts of the soap opera with Anne Boyer. “One-hour dramas for less than $40,000 a day, I don’t know many of them. »
Luckily, the government fund still exists to help cover the cost of stopping filming of a TV series or movie due to coronavirus infections.
Scheduling has also complicated Duo Productions’ shifting operations, particularly during times of labor shortages. “I would like to postpone the shooting, but our actors are otherwise engaged afterwards. Also the techs… Last week we brought in a pole vaulter from Quebec for two days because our pole vaulter tested positive and no one was available in Montreal. It’s not easy,” says Michel d’Astous.
“It’s falling like flies! »
outraged My mother, The emperor is also one of the series that recently had an enforced hiatus. New offer from Michelle Allen (Run away, The Runaway), which Noovo will air next winter, traces the rise of an attacker and how his victims struggle to unearth the truth.
“I really had to stop shooting for several days,” confirms producer Sophie Deschênes (Sovimage) over the phone.
The seventh wave of COVID-19 hitting Quebec is having a major impact on audiovisual production, comments Mme Deschenes.
“No production escapes him. There are so many cases everywhere. My productions are dripping like flies! ‘ reveals the man who just finished filmingBefore the crash for Radio Canada andhotel for VAT
Anna and Arnaud, warnings, counter offer and UntenableTVA’s daily news also temporarily fell into the fray, says Nicola Merola, president of Pixcom.
The return of the mask
To curb this carnage, most producers have made it mandatory to wear a mask at work. Fabienne Larouche, Michel Trudeau and Guillaume Lespérance who have just started filming statusthe medical fiction that will succeed district 31 in September on ICI Télé, have adopted this strategy in particular.
These are more restrictive standards than elsewhere since the Quebec government dropped all health measures in the spring.
Public health no longer requires wearing a mask, but it’s not realistic to think that we can ask 30-40 people to be together for 32 days without there being an outbreak.
Michel d’Astous, Producer
“Life outside has started again and the variants are clearly very contagious,” notes Nicola Merola.
“If honestly, there were no masks, the outbreaks would increase quite exponentially, estimates Sophie Deschênes. Because in 2020 and 2021 we went straight home after the working day. Nobody had one party the weekend. Nobody wanted to catch COVID because everyone was scared to death. Today the spirit has changed. »
The worst is coming?
The crisis that the productions are going through at the moment makes us fear the worst for the autumn, especially for the return to classes.
Annie Bourdeau, Executive Director of Original Productions at Urbania, recently wrapped filming on a new feature film entitled seem to gothat Télé-Québec intends to present in January 2023. While no break in filming has marred her series, the producer is concerned about the rest.
“I’m talking about it, and I’m not looking forward to it. This is a big topic right now. »
The same story with Myriam Verreault. The director of 5e rankwho will take the reins in almost a month, recently contracted COVID-19 while shooting the short film with Brigitte Poupart Until we dieproduced by Voyelles Films.
“I shot 120 days during a pandemic without even getting it once,” says Myriam Verreault in an interview.
It was my first shoot without a mask in two years. I was super happy without spinning. I felt free. But two days later, boom! i was positive
Myriam Verreault, Director
“It’s not the easy summer we expected,” she continues.
Uncertainty will linger over the television industry for a long time.
“Every morning at 8:15 am I think: ‟Oh dear God… Are we making our day?” summarizes Michel d’Astous. Currently, filming a series is like playing Russian roulette. »