Director Erik Matti said suggestions from industry workers have fallen on deaf ears even with numerous consultations with the FDCP. Milo Severo
Film directors oppose COVID guidelines for shoots
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Veteran filmmakers have questioned what they described as an overreach of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) in regulating production shoots and other audiovisual activities in the ongoing public health emergency due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The Directors’ Guild of the Philippines Inc. (DGPI) raised concerns over some of the provisions in the joint administrative order issued by the FDCP with the Departments of Health (DOH) and of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Specifically, the DGPI questioned the mandatory report on production shoots seven days prior to the shoot as well as the order’s coverage of platforms other than film, including television, advertising, animation and other productions for online distribution.

“While we laud the FDCP for its development programs and achievements, the DGPI protests and denounces its overreach into regulatory and oversight functions over productions,” the guild said.

“As the film industry struggles to get back on its feet, the DGPI reiterates that it opposes any form of additional agency intrusion on productions. Not during a pandemic. Not ever,” it added, noting that the slippery slope from reporting to monitoring and controlling is “steep and dangerous to freedom of expression.”

The FDCP on Saturday issued the clarificatory guidelines on its joint administrative order, which mandates production companies to register seven days ahead of shoots and other activities.

Productions for films, televisions, web and other audiovisual content must submit specific details of the planned production shoot, including the people participating at the production site.

The FDCP said the form is for production companies to manifest their compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Act and the guidelines governing the working conditions and occupational safety and health of workers in the audio-visual production industry.

“This also spells out their commitment in providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for all workers. This must be submitted to the FDCP prior to the start of the production shoot,” the clarificatory guidelines read.

Director Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, however, said they fear that the requirement “is going into something more than health and safety protocols.”

“We are concerned about health and safety. We are really all for following the DOLE and DOH guidelines on working hours and turnaround time and the number of people involved,” Siguion-Reyna said in an interview with “The Chiefs” aired on Cignal TV’s One News on Monday night.

“(But) in light of everything that has been affecting media these days, the closure of ABS-CBN… we’re kind of suspicious of this requirement to register every production seven days before the shoot. This reminds me of the days before the lifting of martial law when scripts are being asked before the shoot,” he added.

Director Erik Matti said suggestions from industry workers have fallen on deaf ears even with numerous consultations with the FDCP.

In the same program, FDCP chair Liza Diño defended the order, saying it intends to specifically address the health and safety protocols needed to be adopted by the industry.

Diño said the reporting requirements were mandated by the DOLE for occupational safety and health and by the DOH for contact tracing in case a worker tests positive.

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