For the second entry in our new series, which looks at the coronavirus crisis from the standpoint of individuals in the industry, we speak to Ashkan Rahgozar, CEO of Hoorakhsh Studios in Tehran. Last year, the studio’s mythological epic The Last Fiction (image at top) became the first Iranian animated feature to qualify for an Oscar. Hoorakhsh is known in its home country for its tv series, music videos, shorts, and video games.
Iran has been badly hit by the coronavirus — it has over 60,000 confirmed cases — but the government has yet to implement a general lockdown. On March 1, when Rahgozar decided to send most of Hoorakhsh’s 104-person workforce home, officials were still insisting that an outbreak wouldn’t happen. “But we didn’t risk it,” says the CEO. “We made this decision to keep our crew and their families safe.”
The studio had no prior experience in remote working. The IT, production management, and human resource departments devised a procedure in two days. “Because of lack of internet speed in Iran, and because of privacy,” explains Rahgozar, “Ehsan — who is my brother and also the IT manager — arranged a local cloud service. Our production team gave access to the crew on the air and they managed the tasks in Taskulu, which is our task management platform.” All but a small portion of the technical and administrative teams are now at home.