Lock setup cost weighing on TV shows

MANILA, Philippines – The production of TV shows has become more expensive, with networks and production companies spending up to 40% more to meet significant costs related to the pandemic.

Production these days comes at a high price, according to industry stakeholders, as the health crisis has forced the television and entertainment industry to find new ways to survive and ensure business continuity in the industry. the new normal.

GMA Network Inc.’s senior vice president for drama Redgie Magno told The STAR the company was spending nearly P 2 million on COVID-19 testing of staff, cast and crew alone. production for a locked recording of a program that will run for 16 weeks with four lock schedules.

In addition to COVID-19 testing, spending for quarantine in hotels and accommodation also emerged as a major cost item, accounting for around 15% of the total cost of production, according to Magno.

“There has been a significant increase in the cost of production due to the budgetary provision for pandemic related costs such as swab testing, hotel quarantine before lockdown, locked hotel accommodation, disinfection teams, disinfection supplies, personal protective equipment, isolation tents, etc. She said.

“The average cost of producing a typical TV show (before the pandemic) was significantly lower than producing a show under the current setup,” Magno said, adding that the cost of producing GMA for its dramas had increased by 25%.

For Cignal Entertainment, the film and television production unit of TV5 Network Inc.’s subsidiary, Cignal TV, production costs have increased 10-40% under the current lockdown setup.

Cignal said swab testing, which is priced at at least P 3,500 per person according to the supplier, has indeed become a major cost item in television production today due to the large number of people who need to take the test.

“If you have, say, 50 or more artists and a production crew, multiply the cost of the swab test and you get the total sum of the costs of the swab test. Also note that the swab tests are done twice – before and after a filming cycle – and that there are at least two filming cycles consisting of two weeks each to budget for a 13-episode series, ”Cignal said. .

“Although swab testing is a major cost in television production today, the safety and health of our staff is a top priority and we are more than willing to spend it,” he said.

Cignal said accommodation and meal costs have also increased significantly by at least 80% as the entire artist entourage is factored into production expenses as well.

Additional health insurance for all members of the production team also adds to the extended expense lists.

“Before the pandemic, we very rarely do locked shoots or recordings and host the production group and cast in a hotel. We only do this when we go out of town and have to stay there for weeks or when we are filming overseas. Otherwise, everyone returns home to their respective homes after packing. As this is now the new configuration, this represents an additional expense for production, ”said Magno of GMA.

To mitigate the higher costs, Magno said GMA has reduced the number of production staff, while its production staff multitask.

She said actors and their mates were also downsized, while vendors were also asked to downsize their teams.

“The difficult economic situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, and the television and entertainment industry lies in uncharted territory,” Cignal said.

“To mitigate the budgetary impact, the shoots are carefully planned, which reduces the number of shooting days. The workforce is also reduced in compliance with safety instructions. Maximizing location sets, adjusting talent fees, and making the most of donated filming days are some of the measures currently being implemented to keep costs as low as possible. We have to adapt because it’s hard to say when things will get back to normal, ”he said.

Despite the higher costs, however, TV networks and production companies said they were just grateful that they found new ways to navigate the pandemic by implementing various security protocols to ensure the business continuity.

But large networks and production companies are not the only ones suffering from this recent surge in costs.

A source from the television industry said that even the costs of events and commercials were also affected. “The costs of these tests for commercial shoots alone are really high. These labs earn a lot, ”said the source.

“Overall, the production of TV commercials, in my opinion, has decreased significantly. The change that is now gaining ground is social media,” said Dan Villa, President of CREATIVILLA and former Chairman of the Advertising Council of Philippines.

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