From ‘Malcolm & Marie’ to ‘Mission: Impossible’: How the film industry is adapting to COVID-19

Malcolm & Marie (L-R): Zendaya as Marie, John David Washington as Malcolm (Photo: NETFLIX © 2021)

The film industry has slowly started to inch back towards normalcy as productions such as Jurassic World: Dominion, Mission Impossible, The Batman and a stable of Netflix projects have resumed filming over the pandemic.

Many have introduced strict precautions to secure the safety of the cast and crew on set, though some have seen difficulties along the way – from Tom Cruise screaming at crew members who slipped their bubble to suspending production after lead star Robert Pattinson contracted COVID-19.

Here’s a few major ways that productions have adapted to COVID-19.

Mission: Impossible 7

In a now-viral audio clip, actor and producer Tom Cruise was heard screaming and threatening to fire crew members for breaking social distancing rules. Mission: Impossible, which has stopped and started production multiple times because of the pandemic, has previously had several positive coronavirus cases on set.

It was previously reported that after moving the production from Italy to the UK, Cruise built a COVID-secure studio in Hertfordshire – transforming a former military base into the action thriller’s headquarters. He also reportedly paid USD$590k+ per month to rent out two empty cruise ships for cast and crew to live on while filming in Norway.

See also: Tom Cruise is officially going to outer space

Malcolm & Marie

Zendaya as Marie (Photo: Dominic Miller/ NETFLIX © 2021)

Filmed entirely in secret last summer, this black and white drama reunited Zendaya with Euphoria writer/director Sam Levinson. With just two actors – Zendaya and BlackKklansman’s John David Washington – numbers were kept low on the production as a strict safety plan was created with the help of a doctor.

After being tested for coronavirus multiple times, the cast and crew were taken to a filming location in Monterey, California, where they were separated into two bubbles and quarantined. Afterward, filming began and everyone was expected to stick to a safety handbook (released by Deadline) which included temperature checks at the start and end of days, full PPE for anybody coming into close contact with the actors, and a ban on anybody leaving their bubbles/location. Only 12 people were allowed on set at any time while rehearsals were held outdoors in a carpark and production meetings were held over Zoom.

See also: From CircleDNA to COVID-19: Danny Yeung of Prenetics on the future of testing

Netflix projects

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, Netflix revealed that it is currently filming ‘dozens’ of projects internationally – all using an algorithmic model called the Barnes Scale created by an in-house data scientist, which calculates different risk factors and the prevalence of coronavirus in the area. According to Vice President of Production Management for Original Series Momita Sengupta, “You run that model, and it spits out all the things that can happen in terms of infection transmission.”

On top of that, they’ve also introduced infectious disease preventionists onto productions who consult on how to safely film, as well as monitor social distancing and other safety precautions on set.

See also: Opinion: How to survive a pandemic, according to a yogi

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