The lockdown has led to an increase of some 25% in people watching TV, but in Flanders, they have had to do without their favourite soap opera.
Now Thuis (Home) is reported to be about to begin shooting again on June 8, the public broadcaster VRT has announced.
Production stopped at the beginning of the lockdown in March, but the soap (like its principal competitor Familie on VTM) already had a number of episodes in the can at that point. The question then was, when if ever would they be able to begin again, given the rules on social distancing?
At the beginning of May the producers started with test shooting, to figure out how scenes could be shot while respecting the 1.5m distancing required. The scripts that were already written were also “coronaproofed”.
“We have done a lot of work in recent weeks,” said producer Hans Roggen. “The first evaluations after the test shots were very positive, and showed we can make Thuis safely. We immediately started preparations. It was a daunting task to get everything done faster, but we are recording on Monday 8 June for episodes for the autumn season. We are happy to be able to make Thuis together again.”
Among the tests carried out during the trial shoots, was the use of smart armbands, developed by the Antwerp company Rombit for use in factories and production plants, which contain a proximity alarm.
Whenever a wearer comes within a certain pre-set distance from another wearer, the alarm goes off. When set to a distance of 1.5m, the armbands could be used by actors during rehearsals.
And the producers didn’t save all they had learned for themselves. They also shared their discoveries via a webinar – an online seminar – with others from the Flemish production sector. Some 520 other production workers took part.