As most sectors are downsizing production and working in shifts due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the story is different for some players in the creative industry whose job demands are keeping them under threat.
Although public performances were suspended as part of the precautionary health protocols, creative players continue to produce music videos, recording in the studio and on set when shooting film projects.
The development comes against a background of reported positive cases within the art and creative industry. Musicians Allan Ngumuya and Find Codi have reportedly recovered from the disease after undergoing treatment.
Another positive case has been reported of an actor of a local television drama series Spouses and Workmates. Its director Flora Suya subsequently announced the suspension of production until the whole team receives a clean bill of health.
But elsewhere creatives continue to gather in production sets. This is putting their lives at risk, admit some artists. Actress-cum-filmmaker Cathreen Mlenga in an interview said it is hard to observe all the health protocols while in the line of duty.
She said the demands of some scenes in filmmaking makes it impossible to follow all the health guidelines as at the end of the day they need to tell a story which has the script and action speaking to each other.
“In some situations it is very hard to twist things. Even the wearing of face masks doesn’t go in line with some of the costume that we are using. When we are shooting a movie, we are not just doing it for that time but for the long-term. So, it is hard to blend in all that,”said Mlenga.
The actress said she has so far appeared on set on four separate occasions where she was involved in the production of three short films and one TV series. She said some of the players have agreed to suspend their participation until September.
Comedian Tannah, who has also featured in a number of productions of late, said they are making efforts to observe social distancing rules and he has since postponed production requiring more than five characters at once.
He said: “The threat is there, but we are trying our best. As artists we should be considered as essential service providers. We have to keep people entertained, educated and informed while they are home.”
Hip hop artist Macelba, who has recently released two music videos for his new songs Simbi Phiri and Chisankho, said the pandemic is a scare for them, but they are making the necessary adjustments.
“We made sure that we keep numbers of the team working on a shooting day to a minimum. That is why you can see that we have a few numbers of people appearing in the videos. As much as Covid-19 has hit us, we still have work to do,” he said.
Ashukile Mwakisulu, producer of another local television series Choices also told Chill that though they are continuing with production while observing the measures, it is really hard.
He said: “It is really frightening because you can’t be sure. People are coming in from different places and it is hard to avoid physical contact. However, we are doing our level best.”
Award-winning actress and filmmaker Joyce Mhango-Chavula said it is unfortunate that as a nation there is nothing being done to assist sectors affected by the pandemic as is the case in countries such as Zambia and South Africa.
“It is still very risky. Most of the artists are aware of the new normal and we are following all precautions when working. Whenever it is possible we go virtual. It has not been easy, but we are managing,” she said.
Gospel artist Ennoh Mwana wa Igwe said: “I have personally developed a strategy which I am following. We are under threat like anybody else as the pandemic has not spared any sector. What we need to do now is follow the agreed precautionary measures.”