The advent of spring has brought an increasing sense of confidence to the streets of Beijing. People are shopping or strolling in areas like Sanlitun’s entertainment quarter in greater numbers. And compared to a couple of months ago, there are more people in bars and far more traffic on the roads. While things are not quite back to normal, there is a feeling that the tide has turned in the battle against the pandemic. China, it seems, has become the safest place to be.
It may even have become the best place to shoot. Commercial content production, too, has started to return to normal here in China over the past few weeks. As conditions steadily improve in China — and as they worsen in the rest of the world — brands are increasingly looking to China as they scramble to find suitable places to produce commercial content.
After a near total ban on production in China after the outbreak, shooting is possible again in certain places (including Beijing) if there are less than 50 cast and crew on set. Of course, producers still need a shooting permit from the local government and clearance from the local police, who will always need a list of cast and crew, the script, and a run-down for each production day. Extraordinary, virus-related restrictions mean that many shoots are occurring in studios, where controls are easier to implement and personnel limits vary according to management policies. I’m hearing that Shanghai is currently more production-friendly than Beijing, with some locations re-opening to production. To enter a studio in Shanghai, cast and crew need a “green” QR code, supplied by WeChat or Alipay, that shows they are in good health and have not been in any of the virus hotspots. In Beijing, they need a “blue” pass, supplied by their mobile carrier, that shows they have been in town for at least the past 14 days. These passes and codes are also required for many other daily activities.
So things are looking up for Chinese and China-based creative talent right now. There is presently less competition from abroad because travel bans and quarantine procedures have made it impossible for foreign-based talent to work in China even as production comes back to life.