Australian TV Show ‘Neighbours’ Resumes Filming, But With No Kiss, Touch
Neighbours, an Australian TV show that has been running for 35 years, has returned after a month-long break from shooting to become the world’s first live-action series to start filming since shoots were suspended due to the Covid19 outbreak.
But, there’s a catch — the cast and crew have to stand five feet apart, and actors cannot hold hands, hug, kiss or enact brawls. Camera angles and positions are being used to depict actors at greater proximity to each other than they are while shooting. And, in order to keep the drama intact, the camera will cut away moments before a kiss or a punch and leave the rest to the viewers’ imagination. “It’s going to take all our efforts to play our characters as believably in love as what they are without the access to each other’s intimate proximity,” Stefan Dennis, an actor on the show, told The New York Times.
The producers have introduced a series of rules to keep the the case and crew safe. In addition to daily temperature checks for everyone, the set has been divided into cordoned off shooting units with only three actors allowed to cross between these zones at any given point of time. “We’ve been adapting. We’re able to very quickly monitor everyone’s interaction and footprint, should we have an incident,” Jason Herbison, executive producer of the show, said. Also, while the male actors on the show have given up on wearing make-up completely, the female actors are foregoing touch-ups between shots.
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This sparks hope for people involved in the entertainment business, which has been hit hard by Covid19 despite the rise in consumption of content. Due to the pandemic-prompted lockdown and the restrictions on movement and activity, the entertainment industry worldwide has had to stop all shoots — both indoors and outdoors. Crew members across shows have been laid off at short notice with barely any financial compensation.
“I was on ‘Station 19’ the other night and people must be going, ‘Oh this guy’s on TV; he must make a lot of money. But it’s a working-class industry. You have to string together enough work and keep auditioning in order to keep going. I can’t do that with everything shut down. If I paid all my (credit card and mortgage) bills, I wouldn’t have money for groceries. So you prioritize. I’ve got two young kids, and the other night I was freaking out and thinking maybe I should get a job at Amazon,” Mac Brandt, an actor who appears on TV shows like Kingdom and Arrested Development, told Variety last month.
In India alone, trade analyst Atul Mohan has predicted a weekly loss of USD 10.5 million for the industry with overall production coming to a halt. Because the coronavirus isn’t going away anytime soon, the TV and movie industries will probably have to learn to adapt and co-exist with the virus by incorporating social distancing norms into their schedules — just the way Neighbours did.