Where in the World Has Production Resumed? Part 2 of Our Complete Guide (EXCLUSIVE)

The coronavirus pandemic crippled production around the world across many months, enforcing an unavoidable hiatus in business that has wreaked havoc on film and TV production schedules. The summer saw a number of troubling flare-ups in certain countries as borders began reopening, but overall, the pandemic has stabilized enough in some nations to allow specific industries to resume — albeit very cautiously. Here, Variety’s international team breaks down what you need to know about how film and TV production is faring in key markets as the industry slows comes back to life.

Coming Sept. 9: Variety’s “Location Update: The Big Restart,” produced in collaboration with the Association of Film Commissioners International.

Catch up on Part 1 of the guide, covering Canada, Iceland, China, India, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

UNITED KINGDOM

Open for business?

Like in many parts of the world, the U.K. began shutting down productions in March. Some unscripted programs such as magazine shows and news programs found ways to continue shooting during the early period with skeletal teams and social distancing in place, but film and high-end film and TV were paralyzed for months. The country published COVID-19 guidelines at the end of May, allowing the latter productions to resume, which they have done slowly and cautiously in the last two months.

COVID-19 stats

The U.K. has a total of 335,873 cases, of which 294,372 are active. There have been 41,501 fatalities, and there are 1,400 new cases every day, and around two deaths a day.

Insurance coverage

The country established a $647 million insurance fund for film and TV production at the end of July. It is available to all productions made by outfits where at least 50% of the budget is spent in the U.K. Eligible productions will get compensation for costs caused by coronavirus delays up to a value of 20% of the production budget. Productions abandoned due to coronavirus will be covered up to 70% of the production budget. There is a total cap on claims per production of $6.65 million.

Travel restrictions

Visitors from several countries do not need to self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive in England, including Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Norway, Portugal, South Korea and Vietnam. The quarantine period is mandatory, however, for visitors from several other nations, including the U.S., France and Spain. Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have different quarantine rules.

What’s shooting?

BBC series “Line of Duty” has resumed; Netflix and the BBC’s “The Serpent” has relocated to London from Thailand; Sony’s “Cinderella” has resumed: “Mission Impossible 7” shot a schedule in England before moving to Norway; “Jurassic Park: Dominion” is shooting as well. “The Batman” has been getting ready to shoot but production has now shut down after star Robert Pattinson tested positive for COVID-19. Naman Ramachandran

HUNGARY

Open for business?

Hungary, with its 30% production incentive and top-notch crews and studios (including Origo Studios and Korda Studios), is Europe’s second biggest destination for international shoots, after the U.K. In 2019 the local film industry broke records with an increase of 50% in direct spend on film production to $565.6 million. After the shutdown, international crews began to return to the country from early July, and now several productions are shooting.

COVID-19 stats

With 6,257 confirmed cases and 616 deaths so far, Hungary — with a population of 9.77 million — has fared better than most during the COVID-19 pandemic. This translates to 648 confirmed cases per one million population, and 64 deaths per one million population.

However, the number of confirmed cases rose steadily recently from 91 in the last week of July to 588 for the final week in August. Deaths, on the other hand, didn’t reflect this rise: there was one death in the final week of July and two in the final week of August.

Insurance coverage

None provided by the government.

Travel restrictions

Hungary offers an exemption for non-Hungarian cast and crew from quarantine restrictions if they receive a permit from the police in advance. They must take a test before arriving in the country that comes out negative. Alternatively, they must have a test at the airport and quarantine until it is shown to be negative. A second test is required between 48 hours and five days later. Most Hollywood studios take additional precautions including testing the cast and crew several times a week.

What’s shooting?

Legendary’s sci-fi movie “Dune” was shooting in August and has now wrapped, and Netflix’s “Terra Vision” has been filming since July. Amazon’s “Bird of Paradise” started filming in August. Showtime’s live-action, scripted series “Halo” and Sony’s “The Nightingale,” a period drama starring Dakota and Elle Fanning, will soon resume production. Season 5 of Netflix-BBC historical epic “The Last Kingdom” is in prep. Leo Barraclough

FRANCE

Open for business?

Production of film and TV series restarted in May after the French government approved sanitary guidelines for filming — becoming one of the first European countries hardest hit by the virus to resume activities within the sector. However, due to the dramatic increase of COVID-19 cases in the country in recent weeks, there are no international productions that are currently filming.

COVID-19 stats

France has 175,375 active cases of COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for France due to the large volume of active cases.

Insurance coverage

The government set up a temporary indemnity fund of €50 million ($59 million) in May for canceled or postponed TV and film shoots during the pandemic; the fund was then doubled to €100 million ($118 million) by a pool of insurers. The initiative allows producers to be insured up to €1.8 million ($2.1 million) per film, and cover off 30% of their production budget.

Travel restrictions

Travellers arriving from Europe, including the U.K., as well as Australia, Canada and Japan, can enter France freely; while travellers from other countries such as the U.S. must produce the results of a diagnostic virology test upon boarding a flight to France. For everyone, it’s strongly advised to get tested 72 hours before flying to avoid the risk of being quarantined upon arriving in France.

What’s shooting?

Netflix and Amazon recently finished shooting their respective series, “Arsene Lupin” with Omar Sy, and “Voltaire, Mixte.” Apple TV Plus, meanwhile, has indefinitely delayed production on a series that was expected to kick off in Paris in the fall. There are currently a raft of French productions shooting, notably “Supreme,” a biopic of the popular 1990s French rap band NTM directed by Audrey Estrougo and produced by Philippe Boefard. Set to shoot later this month are Jacques Audiard’s “Les Olympiades,” and Fabrice Eboué’s “Barbaque.” Elsa Keslassy

SPAIN

Open for business?

Spain reopened domestic production when the State of Emergency was lifted region by region in May and June. International shoots are allowed under strict supervision from the Spanish Institute of Cinematography and the Audiovisual Arts (ICAA).

Updated health and safety protocols were designed by the government with input from industry professionals to strike a balance between the best health and safety practices and what is practical on a film set. New laws place the onus on individual producers to ensure that production is executed adhering to the established legal protocols.

COVID-19 stats

According to the Spanish Ministry of Health, as of Sept. 1 there have been at least 462,800 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in 29,094 deaths. Currently, trends look grim with the seven-day average of new cases on par with totals not seen since late March and early April, when the country went into its most severe lockdown.

Insurance coverage

According to ICAA, it is the responsibility of the individual producers, depending on the nature and characteristics of the shoot, to decide on extra insurance or on-set health professionals.

Travel restrictions

Elisa Rodriguez, deputy director of promotion and international relations at ICAA, says the Spanish government has implemented a procedure to allow foreign film crews to access Spain despite border restrictions. ICAA then provides reports on each case individually and manages alongside the police the authorization of entry for professionals and artists who come to Spain as part of a production.

What’s shooting?

Netflix stayed busy over the summer with “The Innocent” and “The Neighbor Season 2” wrapping production; meanwhile, international hits “Elite Season 4” and “Money Heist Part 5” are currently shooting. Irene Escolar and Bárbara Lennie’s “Escenario 0” headlines HBO Spain’s post-restart lineup, with “Hierro Season 3” and Alejandro Amenábar’s series debut “La Fortuna” leading the way at Movistar Plus. Perhaps the highest-profile shoot of the summer, however, was Oscar winner Pedro Almodóvar’s English-language debut short “The Human Voice,” starring Tilda Swinton. Jamie Lang

ITALY

Open for business?

Italy was the first country in Europe to shut down productions due to COVID-19 in February, but it’s now among the first to be back in business after its production guidelines were announced in May.

COVID-19 stats

After suffering what was initially one of the worst death rates in Europe, Italy currently has a relatively low 27,817 active cases. There are currently 1,437 infected who have been hospitalized, 109 in serious or critical condition.

Insurance coverage

Italy does not have an insurance fund to help buffer higher costs due to coronavirus. But the government has raised its 30% tax rebate to 40% for local producers in an effort to help fill that gap. For international producers, it’s 30% rebate remains attractive.

Travel restrictions

Italy currently has restrictions in place for travel from non-European countries and also for some European ones, such as Greece and Spain. However, exceptions can be made for “work reasons,” and shooting a film qualifies. That means that by getting a work permit and undergoing multiple swab tests, including before entry, productions can come from most of the world.

What’s shooting?

The Italian restart is best encapsulated by British TV series “Domina,” co-produced by Sky Studios with the U.K.’s Fifty Fathoms — and executive produced by Italy’s ITV-owned Cattleya. This lavish skein depicting the power of women in Ancient Rome halted production in early March, but in early July resumed shooting at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios.

Cinecittà, which offers state-of-the-art facilities within a space where strict sanitary protocols are now well-worn routine, is currently also hosting several Italian productions, including veteran auteur Paolo Taviani’s Pirandello adaptation “Leonora addio”; Pupi Avati’s bittersweet romancer “Lei mi parla ancora”; and Neri Parenti’s Christmas comedy “Christmas on Mars,” and, on the TV side, “X-Factor” and “Big Brother VIP.”

Elsewhere in Italy, cameras will start rolling in Naples in mid-September on Paolo Sorrentino’s Netflix movie “The Hand of God”; helmer Mario Martone (“Capri Revolution”) is behind the camera in Naples, having resumed shooting of his drama “Qui Rido Io”; and Andrea De Sica (“Baby”) is shooting dark teen chiller “Non Mi Uccidere,” in Italy’s Alpine Alto Adige region. Nick Vivarelli

CZECH REPUBLIC

Open for business?

Czech Republic is one of the most popular destinations for international production in Europe with a 20% production incentive, skilled crews and high-quality studios, such as Barrandov Studios. Production was halted in the country at the beginning of March, and was allowed to restart in May, although Hollywood studios held back for a further two months while protocols were worked out with the unions.

COVID-19 stats

COVID-19 cases have been consistently low in the Czech Republic. There have been 25,773 confirmed cases with 425 deaths total, in a country of 10.7 million people. This translates to 2,400 confirmed cases per million population, and 40 deaths per million population. There were 1,680 confirmed cases in the last week of August, compared with 1,490 in the last week of July. There were four deaths in the last week of August.

Insurance coverage

None provided by the government.

Travel restrictions

The Czech Film Fund, in cooperation with the Czech Ministry of Culture, has helped issue documentation that has allowed international cast and crew to enter the Czech Republic with minimal delay. Immediately before arriving in the country, cast and crew members are tested for COVID-19, and are tested again immediately after arriving. They then remain in quarantine until the test results are available, which is within two to six hours. Most Hollywood studios take additional precautions including testing the cast and crew several times a week.

What’s shooting?

Amazon Studios and Legendary Television completed two weeks of filming on season 2 of Victorian fantasy television series “Carnival Row,” starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, in August. Among other big-budget series shooting in the country are “Wheel of Time” (Amazon Studios), “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (Marvel Studios), “Haunted” (Netflix), and “Das Boot” (Bavaria Fiction), as well as the movie “Transatlantic 473” (Netflix). Leo Barraclough

GERMANY

Open for business?

With two major Hollywood projects, “Matrix 4” and “Uncharted,” Studio Babelsberg became an early pioneer in shooting in the time of coronavirus when it resumed production in July. The studio is undertaking major unprecedented efforts to ensure health safety standards on the two stunt-heavy action films, both of which have huge crews and sizeable casts, including conducting 2,500 COVID-19 tests per week at five test stations. Studio workers are tested twice a week, while cast members are tested more often.

“There is a robust safety protocol in place such as widespread and extensive testing [during both pre-production and shooting], safety trainings, social distancing, contact tracing, thorough daily disinfection, adherence to jurisdiction mandates, local guidance and more,” an industry source confirmed to Variety.

The studio, located near Berlin, has also set up a new COVID department headed by a “COVID captain” to ensure the safety measures are being observed and that testing is regularly taking place and that results are promptly delivered. The studio has also implemented strict guidelines restricting entry onto sets and keeping production office employees separate from cast members.

COVID-19 stats

As of Sept. 2, Germany had 244,855 total cases. Around 16,500 were active cases. The virus has so far claimed 9,313 lives.

Government support

The German government is providing the German Federal Film Board (FFA) with €19 million ($22 million) to increase the org’s funding budget, which is normally financed through a film levy paid by exhibitors but which has been severely reduced due to the crisis. The government has also provided an additional €11 million ($13 million) to the FFA to support distribution and sales funding, “intended to counteract the considerable market disruption caused by COVID-19 and to restart the distribution of theatrical films in Germany in the coming months.”

Travel restrictions

Germany will only allow entry to EU citizens and residents of 12 other countries, including the U.K, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. China, Japan and South Korea are expected to be added to the list soon. The U.S. is not on the list and U.S. citizens traveling to Germany from the U.S. will not be permitted entry except in certain cases.

What’s shooting?

“Matrix 4,” “Uncharted” Ed Meza

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