Gazprom-Media Holding has resumed filming on a full scale after pandemic-related restrictions were lifted in Moscow, the Moscow region and a number of Russian regions. In July and August, the Holding’s TV channels NTV, TNT, Super, TV-3, Friday! as well as the studios Comedy Club Production, Good Story Media, KIT Film Studio and 1-2-3 Production brought 37 projects back into production.
The filming processes are in compliance with all the sanitary and epidemiological standards set by the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor): there is a minimal number of workers on set (no more than 50 people); there is a doctor present at all times; the set as well as all the equipment get disinfected regularly; the film crew gets personal protective equipment (masks, sanitizer). Members of the film crew get their temperature taken daily, while doctors who are on duty conduct express tests to detect the virus.
“The self-isolation period has certainly brought changes to the production process. This period showed that media is a very flexible business that quickly adapted to the creation of non-standard formats. Now our creative teams have quickly returned to the high-quality production process we are used to. It is important that the filming process follows all the recommendations in order to protect the health of each member of the creative teams. I am confident when I say that we are preparing spectacular content for our audiences and partners, and we will surprise them in the new season - with new formats, new creative approaches, new ideas,” said Alexander Zharov, CEO of Gazprom-Media Holding.
All projects of the NTV channel are being produced on schedule. NTV has recently resumed the production of six new, large-scale TV series. These are the historical drama Za Chas do Rassveta (One Hour to Dawn) with Konstantin Khabensky, Andrey Burkovsky and Artur Smolyaninov in the lead roles, as well as the sports drama Master, featuring Igor Petrenko, Anton Vasiliyev and Anatoly Bely, which tells the story of the legendary KAMAZ-master champion team.
Meanwhile, the film crew of Pyos (Dog) started up production of the series’ fifth season as planned. NTV also started filming the adaptation of the Israeli hit Street Justice (Ulichnoe Pravosudie) together with KIT Film Studio, while Amedia Production started filming the medical drama Metod Mikhailova (Mikhailov’s Method) in St. Petersburg for the channel.
In addition, NTV completed the filming of several series before self-isolation rules and restrictive measures were put in place. These include the new seasons of the TV series Balabol, Skoraya Pomosh (First Aid), as well as new projects - the action-packed drama Ageev with Andrey Smolyakov in the lead role, the detective series Likhach (The Daredevil) with Nikita Panfilov, and Sluchainy Kadr (Accidental Shot) with Elena Lyadova and Mikhail Porechenkov.
The filming of socio-political news programs in studios was not put on hold during the self-isolation period. To ensure health and safety, all these programs were filmed without viewers in the studio, while the production processes had to meet strict sanitary requirements. Traditionally these programs take a break during the summer months and resume in the fall at the start of the new television season.
TNT channel, Comedy Club Production and Good Story Media
Twelve projects will return to filming stage in July and August, including brand new shows as well as the next chapters of the popular projects from Comedy Club Production (Zhenskiy Stand-Up/Women’s Stand-Up, Studiya Soyuz/Soyuz Studio, Stand Up, Odnazhdy v Rossii/Once Upon a Time in Russia, Improvizatsia/Improvisation, Otkritiy Mikrofon/Open Mike). In the fall, TNT and Comedy Club Production will continue filming new episodes for Comedy Club and the main stages of the Tantsy (Dances) talent show.
Filming of the new seasons of the TV series Olga (Good Story Media), SashaTanya (Comedy Club Production), as well as the to-be-premiered series Ivanko (Good Story Media), Gusar (Comedy Club Production) and others, is already completed.
TV-3 currently has six projects in production. These include the continuation of the channel’s hits Vernuvshiesya (Those Who Returned), Novy Den (New Day) and Starets (Old Man), as well as new projects, which are set to be released in 2020. Among these are the shows Million na Mechtu (A Million for a Dream) and Luchshiy Pyos (The Best Dog), and the docudrama Lubovnaya Magiya (Love Magic).
The channel has already completed the filming of several projects before the pandemic restrictions were lifted. For example, new episodes of the show Risuem Skazki (Drawing Fairy Tales) and the new season of the project Znaki Sudby (Signs of Fate; 1-2-3 Production, previously PREMIER Studios) are ready to air. There were other projects completed during the quarantine period, mostly filmed remotely using new communication tools. These included the special project “Spasibo za Zhizn” (Thank You for This Life), timed to the Medical Worker Day on June 20, and the program Komarovsky Protiv Koronavirusa (Komarovsky Against Coronavirus).
While the pandemic restrictions were in place, Friday! came up with and launched new formats that did not require a standard filming process. The travel program Oryol i Reshka (Heads or Tails) changed its format and released several special episodes called Oryol i Reshka. Sidim Doma (Heads or Tails. Staying Home) in which the hosts were people from different countries who showed viewers how their cities changed during the pandemic.
The channel’s broadcasts and online platforms showed the project Karantinki - 30-second video clips done as TV stories, in which celebrities and channel hosts offered their life hacks and tips on how to cope with the self-isolation regime. For the first time, the channel’s promo was filmed in a home setting. Friday! employees were sent film equipment (cameras, tripods, lighting) so that they could film the channel’s promo in their apartments.
As of today, Friday! has resumed content production on the usual scale. The channel will show the premieres of new shows and series in the new television season, as well as the next installments of its popular projects. Filming is taking place in pavilions and open areas, in Moscow and other Russian cities.
1-2-3 Production (PREMIER Studios)
All projects that were slated for summer production in the annual plan were put back in motion as soon as the pandemic restrictions were lifted. There are six new TV series currently in production. They are being filmed not only in Moscow but other Russian cities as well, and adhere to all safety measures that are still in place in the regions.
The TV channel is currently filming five projects. These are the new seasons of the series Fitness, Grand, Roditeli (Parents), Voyna Semey (Family Wars) and the sketch show Koroche (In Short). The filming of the new season of IP Pirogova series will begin in the near future.
In June, the television channel launched the show Super Aiza in which TV presenter and blogger Aiza Anokhina talks about her life. Despite the self-isolation regime, filming of the project was able to continue. Aiza’s apartment became the new setting for the show, which added a very personal touch that would likely not have been possible in other circumstances, according to the creators of the show.
The matches of the Tinkoff Russian Premier League resumed on June 19. Match TV films the matches in accordance with all the requirements of Rospotrebnadzor, the Russian Football Union and the Russian Premier League. Since June 19, 64 matches of the 2019-2020 season have already taken place.
Match TV crews work and film the matches at the stadiums while following special regulations. In addition to the general safety requirements put in place during the matches, there is something called the “clean zone” - a well-defined territory next to the pitch and the nearby facilities where the footballers stay. This is also where the TV channel has placed its experts responsible for sending the TV signal, and its commentator - staying at the edge of the pitch - who receive a mandatory QR code to be admitted. The Russian Premier League provides the QR code only to personnel who took a COVID-19 test in the last 48 hours and the result was negative. The QR code permits one-time entry into the “clean zone”.
Moreover, Match TV and the Russian Football Union have started working on an interactive project for fans and spectators called “The Digital Stadium”, which will allow viewers to immerse in the atmosphere of the country’s football stadiums when they cannot be there in person. For example, football fans could add special intersounds while watching select matches on sportbox.ru, matchtv.ru and the Match! mobile app. For live match broadcasts, Match TV offers a separate audio track that is put together by a sound engineer in real time depending on what is happening on the pitch. The channel has created its own sound collection from past games for each stadium especially for this purpose. Such interactivity is particularly important when there are forced limitations on how many spectators can be in the stands at matches.
The 2x2 Animation Studio did not stop production of its own content even during the self-isolation period. While the country was under strict quarantine restrictions, 2x2 continued its production remotely and in line with the previously planned scale. The studio released a total of 726 minutes of animation from March to July. Several projects were filmed and aired during this period, including the new seasons of the projects Burdashev 2, Show Kontent (Show Content), Doctor Psi, Banditsky Peterburger 2 (Bandit Peterburger 2), Vremya Prokhozhdenii 3 (Time to Travel 3), and Videosalon Bazuka (Video Salon Bazooka). The program Videosalon Bazuka, about film industry news, also switched to a home format. All the subjects filmed their own clips and then sent the material in for editing.
KIT Film Studio
KIT Film Studio resumed the production of three large-scale projects after restrictive measures were lifted. Together with NTV channel, the studio started filming Ulichnoe Pravosudie - the Russian adaptation of a popular Israeli series Street Justice. Moreover, in July the studio started filming the series Chinovnitsa (The Official) for Channel One, with the support of MTS Media, and the project Byvshih ne Byvaet (There are no Exes), which combines the drama and action-packed detective genres, for NTV channel.