Tom Cruise’s outburst of COVID-19 aside, the UK is still the center for filming

Maybe the pressure was too much.

Tom Cruise, a 58-year-old movie star, was recorded earlier this month while holding an interpretive tirade on the set of his latest “Mission: Impossible” in the UK, threatening to fire crew members for allegedly violating social exclusion guidelines.

The release for the seventh installment of the Paramount Pictures franchise was among the first to close in March, and faced major delays after the outbreak among crews. Cruise’s outburst also sparked support from anti-masquerade weary and condemnation from local union representatives who saw it as harassment. Some, like George Clooney, were torn apart, seeing a legitimate problem that could have been solved differently.

The incident highlights how the UK is battling a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, while keeping its critical film industry afloat. The UK, with popular sound scenes like Leavesden north of London, where “Mission: Impossible” is being filmed, has allowed Hollywood studios to relaunch major productions. Now the region is facing a new, more contagious strain of the virus that has prompted a number of neighboring countries to close their borders to it.

“This will be a new challenge for productions in studios and on site,” said Spencer MacDonald, secretary of Bectu National, a union representing 40,000 crew members and others in British film and television.

Despite the ignition of “Mission: Impossible”, MacDonald said that his union had achieved a high level of compliance with the security of COVID-19. Crew members, many of whom are freelancers, are encouraged to exercise caution, as they usually do not receive a salary if production is stopped, he noted.

“People have been through such a painful period that they want to be sure not to put themselves or anyone else in a situation that will jeopardize production, so I think people have really been quite reasonable in things,” he added.

Matt Spooner of Buckinghamshire, England, production safety supervisor for “Mission: Impossible 7,” agrees.

“The productions were incredibly effectively controlled,” Spooner said. “The unfortunate story about the conversation that was filmed at the beginning of last week was really irrelevant in my opinion. The fulfillment was spectacular and the crews committed to it. “

MacDonald said there were situations where the crew was supposed to be in so-called bubbles, but instead mixed or left the location hotels where they were supposed to be indoors. However, he said there were few such incidents.

Thanks to generous incentives – an unlimited cash discount of up to 25% on qualifying expenses, including actor salaries – Britain has emerged as a major hub for big feature films and TV shows in the last decade. Productions can claim up to 80% of their budget.

Major players, including Walt Disney, Netflix and Warner Bros., have made significant investments in the UK in recent years. Last year, Disney signed a long-term lease at Pinewood Studios, while Netflix concluded 14 soundstages at Shepperton Studios. Warner Bros. has his studies in Leavesden.

Following success in “The Crown” and other shows, Netflix plans to increase its UK production budget to $ 1 billion next year, covering more than 50 shows.

The United Kingdom is enjoying six years of almost record film production, which was helped by the extension of the tax relief program in 2014.

In 2019, the value of top TV productions, including the Netflix-era drama “Bridgerton,” reached £ 1.244 billion ($ 1.75 billion), up 51% from the previous year, according to the British Film Commission. Film production rose 17% year-over-year to £ 1.422 billion ($ 2.35 billion), thanks to Universal’s 1917 war epic and Disney’s “Black Widow.”

In March, the wave of activity came to a halt due to a pandemic. Some commercials with a smaller crew continued to shoot, but large recordings needed to be restarted, MacDonald said.

Nevertheless, the industry managed to continue working through subsequent locks.

Approximately 85% of the 280 productions that stopped in March are back in action, according to the British Film Commission.

Projects based in the UK include Steve McQueen’s “Little Ax” series for Amazon, which has already received accolades. The second seasons of Hulu’s “The Great” and HBO’s “Avenue 5” are also recently being filmed in London, according to Film London.

“Mission: Impossible” will return to filming in the new year.

Britain, along with New Zealand, Canada and Iceland, remained an attractive destination as infection rates were much lower than other countries. In Los Angeles, where infection rates are higher, production is still far below the prepandemic level.

The British government has also shown a willingness to meet the needs of the industry.

For example, Cruise could do it convince the British ministers so that the “Mission Impossible” team skips the 14-day quarantine so they can start filming again this summer.

There were certainly some challenges.

“Mission: Impossible” faced a second break in October after crew members tested positive for COVID-19 while in Italy. Recording is paused for the holidays.

Warner Bros. ‘the relaunch of the film‘ The Batman ’in the UK, which has been on hold since March, had to be stopped after the first week when star Robert Pattinson was on positive testing in September. Filming resumed a few weeks later and should continue until February, the studio confirmed.

Universal Picture’s Jurassic Park: Dominion also tested positive for the British crew while on site in Malta, although production did not stop. The cast of the dinosaur film was quarantined throughout the filming, confined to a hotel near the set that the studio had booked for 20 weeks, said a source close to the production who was not authorized to comment.

Netflix’s drama “The Witch,” filmed near London, was forced to halt production in November when positive tests for COVID-19 were discovered. Filming has since continued, Netflix spokesman Jonathan Bing said.

In response to the pandemic, the British Film Commission and other industry groups have created a set of COVID-19 security protocols on the sets.

On June 1, they published guidelines that included contributions from American organizations, and were designed to be adapted to productions of various budget sizes.

These guidelines helped the sector restart quickly, said Adrian Wootton of the commission.

“We believe these are the most comprehensive, detailed consultation guidelines for producing recovery from COVID-19 in the world,” Wootton, executive director of the British Film Commission and London Film, said in a statement. “It is vital that productions follow COVID-19’s own guidelines and protocols.”

There are key differences between these guidelines and the protocols agreed by the Hollywood unions and the major producers ’union. For example, British guidelines do not require testing for COVID-19 on kits; only examination of symptoms is recommended.

Kits must have COVID health and safety supervisors, but, unlike the U.S., they can perform dual roles.

In practice, however, British industry experts say high-budget film and television productions such as “Mission: Impossible” follow the protocols established by American unions.

Major Hollywood studios have agreed to apply the same security protocols around the world, said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief adviser and chief operating officer of SAG-AFTRA. The union sees consistent levels of safety on SAG-AFTRA kits regardless of the country of manufacture, he added.

British union officials agree with that assessment.

“There will of course be cases of COVID, as is the case in any industry. However, we generally believe that protocols and collective bargaining unions provide the basis for the safe operation of our members, ”said Louise McMullan, Deputy Secretary General of Equity, whose 47,000 union members include British performers, directors and stage managers.

The UK, however, faces new challenges.

Officials caused alarm this week after saying they had discovered a new, more contagious strain of COVID-19, prompting many countries to close their borders to travel from the UK

The British Film Commission said that filming could continue during this intensified blockade, which enables filming in the company’s premises, which are closed to the general public.

“We’re going to face an unspoken challenge, it’s the fear of the unknown now,” Spooner said. However, he said he did not expect any changes in infection control measures in response to the new strain.

The British screen industry is also facing the challenge of Brexit and its removal from the European Union, but the demand for filming in the country is not waning.

“Over the next three months … there are an extraordinary number of emissions starting right across the spectrum,” said Spooner, production safety supervisor.

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