Helping Reggie Yates wrap his first movie
Two weeks into the shoot for Reggie Yates’ first feature film – a buddy movie called Pirates – its producer Kate Norrish was forced to make one of the hardest decisions of her career.
Work on the film, which was also written by Yates, a popular radio DJ and TV presenter, was going well. But with 10 members of the crew – including one of the actors – self-isolating due to the coronavirus, Kate made the tough call to shut down production of the £2Million movie.
She said, “It’s something I hope never to go through again. I don’t think I knew what it would take to shut down an entire film until we did it.”
The movie, which is set in 1999 and follows 3 friends as they travel from North London to South London in search of the ultimate New Year’s Eve party, is an exciting venture for Reggie and his collaborators. But when the cameras stopped rolling on 16th March, the cast and crew faced an uncertain future.
Fortunately, the film’s financial backers – The BFI which awards National Lottery funding and BBC Films – were eager to help. They allowed money allocated for production to be used to ensure all shut down costs were covered and the cast and crew were paid two weeks’ notice.
Pirates is just one of the productions hit by the coronavirus that is being supported thanks to National Lottery players. The BFI is using up to £800,000 of National Lottery funding to help BFI-funded movies interrupted by the pandemic and has made up to £2Million available to UK independent films not already supported through the BFI Covid-19 Continuation Production Fund.
And now that Pirates is preparing to start shooting again, the BFI is helping again. Cast and crew will receive Covid safety training from ScreenSkills, an initiative supported by the BFI using National Lottery funding.
Kate, who expects to complete filming Pirates in early October, describes the support as invaluable. She said, “The sense that there’s a safety net is incredible. Knowing that the National Lottery is there supporting us and helping us get back on our feet and getting the industry going again, is absolutely brilliant.”
The coronavirus has transformed the way films and TV are made. People who need to be in close contact on set – the director and the actors, for example – will be regularly tested for the virus. All crew will wear face coverings indoors and out and make-up artists will use a completely new set of cosmetics every day.
Even the Pirates script has been adjusted to take account of the new way of working. Kate said, “We did have a kiss, but there will no longer be a kiss. It’s been re-written. But fundamentally this is a buddy movie, not a romance, so it’s not the worst thing in the world.”
Kate says production costs have jumped by about a third due to the conditions imposed by the coronavirus. But despite it all, she’s optimistic that Pirates will strike a chord with audiences when it is released in 2021.
She said, “Since we shut down, Reggie’s done lots of publicity and kept the energy going. We’ve had lots of interest from UK distributors. Hopefully by next year things will be better and people will be looking for the collective experience of cinema.”
Thanks to National Lottery players, around £30Million a week is funding good causes across the country.
PHOTO: Jordan Peters, one of the stars of Pirates
26th August 2020
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