With no clear sign of the pandemic ending soon, TV networks have modified rules to continue operations as they pivot towards the digital platform.
In line with the guidelines for production shoots, as approved by the Department of Health, Department of Labor and Employment, and Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), film and audiovisual companies follow strict “bubble shoot” measures during production work and activities amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Inside the “bubble,” stars and production crew members are not allowed to leave an area or place for a period of time. In many cases, for a television series, the cast and crew members are confined in a place for two weeks to two months.
This means that people in the project need to pack their bags and leave their families and loved ones behind for several weeks.
In an interview with push.com, Lorna Tolentino, one of the cast members of “Ang Probinsyano” described the experience: “Para kaming nasa Pinoy Big Brother, nakakulong sa bahay ni Cardo Dalisay. So dapat all the way sa mga siguradong negative [sa COVID-19], ‘di na pwede lumabas! Ang safety naman namin is assured para maging worth it naman ang lahat (It was like being in Pinoy Big Brother, we were required to stay in the house of Cardo Dalisay. So it should be all the way for those who were tested negative, going out was prohibited).” On their first bubble shoot they were locked-in for 30 days.
Former beauty queen Maxine Medina, one of the stars of “First Yaya” on GMA-7, said that she has no issues with lock-in taping which she thinks work so much to her advantage.
“Feeling ko nga parang nasa beauty pageant uli ako kasi I wake up at 5:30 a.m. to do my own make-up. Then 7 a.m., susunduin na kami ng service para sa location. Sa location, doon naman ako aayusan ng hair (I felt like I was in a beauty pageant again because I wake up at 5:30 a.m. to do my own make-up. Then 7 a.m., we are picked up by a service vehicle to go to the location, where my hair will be fixed).”
“Pakiramdam ko rin parang nasa Hollywood ako during lock-in taping. Tatawagin ka na lang kapag eksena mo na. Ang maganda sa lock-in taping walang na-le-late. Lahat kami on time. Two weeks na kaming naka-lock-in and marami na rin kaming eksena na nagawa (I also felt like I was in Hollywood during the lock-in taping. You will be called when your scene is being filed. What’s nice about it is that no one is late for taping. We are all on time. We have been under lock-in for two weeks and we had filmed many scenes already),” Maxine said.
Lovi Poe, who was locked-in for the taping of her Kapuso series “Owe My Love,” celebrated her birthday inside the “bubble” last February.
“Naka-lock in kami for two months. Nag-a-adjust kami at talaga namang nagtutulungan kami rito. Masaya ang birthday surprise sa akin ng co-production and co-artists (We were lock-in for two months. We helped each other adjust. My birthday surprise given by the artists and production was fun),” Lovi revealed recently.
Among the mandatory control measures during “lock-in” taping are:
1. Only a maximum of 50 individuals shall be allowed to partake in public activities in low-risk areas, and as determined by its risk-severity rating, subject to at least one-meter physical distancing.
2. Workers must wear their personal protective equipment (PPE), to be provided by producers, such as surgical masks and face shields.
3. Maintain physical distancing.
4. Engineering controls must be employed: Routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces and objects, and provision of handwashing stations, hand sanitizers, and footbath mats in all entrances.
5. Producers must ensure that workers understand that any individual exhibiting flu-like symptoms such as fever, coughing, or chest congestion must immediately inform their production, subject themselves to self-quarantine, and inform their Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) or Local Health Office.
The FDCP welcomes this tripartite government issuance and commends the partner departments for putting focus on the protection of not just film workers but also the rest of the workers in the audiovisual industry.
(Robert Requintina is the Entertainment editor of Manila Bulletin.)