The Top 10 Films that Could Have Been Made During the COVID Pandemic

Posted by Grant Patten on Jul 27, 2020 7:11:04 AM

The Top 10 Films that Could Have Been Made During the COVID Pandemic

…because they’re small scale, one-location film productions / one-room movies / one-location movies / single-location movies / films shot in one room

  1. Rear Window
  2. Sleuth
  3. My Dinner with Andre
  4. Dogville
  5. Death and the Maiden
  6. Wait Until Dark
  7. Dog Day Afternoon
  8. Deterrence
  9. Tape
  10. Arsenic and Old Lace


As COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures drag on in various parts of the world, the reality is that film productions may have an easier time getting financed and off the ground if those productions are made to be small scale in nature, and therefore easier to contain. When there are fewer people on set and in the cast, generally speaking, there are fewer risks involved. And when there are fewer risks involved, financiers and insurance companies are more amenable.

It may be fruitful, then, for filmmakers and film producers to consider how their productions could be simplified and scaled down. Sometimes this may be possible; sometimes it may not.

Of course, we realize that a movie originally planned to be the next Michael Bay-style action blockbuster can never realistically be scaled down to Rear Window size. However, filmmakers are – by their nature – creative individuals, and they just may surprise themselves with what is conceivable if they really take on this challenge to rethink their production scale.

In no particular order:

Rear Window Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1692012427Movie #1: Rear Window (1954)

Arguably, Hitchcock’s best film, Rear Window involves Jimmy Stewart’s photographer character confined to a wheelchair in his apartment. He gets curious about the neighbours in the building across the street, and a murder mystery ensues.

Rear Window was shot entirely at Paramount Studios on a large set replica of a Greenwich Village, NY courtyard.


Movie #2: Sleuth (1972)

Athelhampton House Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1109553560Another fun mystery movie that was filmed on a small scale is Sleuth, starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. The plot involves Caine asking Olivier to divorce his wife so that Caine can marry her. Rather than simply granting this request, Olivier’s character decides to play a game, “a game with potentially deadly consequences.”

The film was shot primarily at Athelhampton House, Dorset, England (pictured) with some of the interiors recreated at Pinewood Studios.

The film was remade in 2007.


Jefferson Hotel Royalty-free stock photo ID: 631982939Movie #3: My Dinner with Andre (1981)

It’s true, “two guys sitting at a table talking over dinner” doesn’t sound like a great movie idea and we can only wonder how it ever managed to get financed. Nevertheless, get financed it did, and it’s actually a pretty good movie featuring some interesting philosophical conversations about life, mortality, theatre, spirituality and more.

The film was shot entirely at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia (interior pictured).


Movie #4: Dogville (2003)

Danish director Lars von Trier never makes straightforward, “normal” films, and Dogville is no exception to that – this film uses an extremely minimal, stage-like set to tell the story of Grace (Nicole Kidman), a woman hiding from mobsters.

The minimal, artificial set – with no pretense of looking anything like reality – is jarring when you begin watching the film, but eventually, the obvious artifice of the set gives way to the story and the solid performances.


Movie #5: Death and the Maiden (1994)

Roman Polanski’s Death and the Maiden is a suspenseful thriller film based on a stageplay. The plot concerns a political activist (Sigourney Weaver) who is convinced that her guest (Ben Kingsley) is a man who once tortured her for the government.

The film was shot mainly in one interior location in France, with a few exteriors in Spain.


Movie #6: Wait Until Dark (1967)

Wait Until Dark involves a blind woman (Audrey Hepburn) being terrorized by a trio of criminals while they search for a heroin-stuffed doll they believe is in her apartment.

The movie was shot primarily in a Manhattan apartment, with some studio interiors shot in Burbank, California.


Movie #7: Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Al Pacino arguably gives one of his better performances in this crime drama film where he plays real-life criminal John Wojtowicz, who purportedly robbed a bank in 1972 in order to pay for his lover’s sex reassignment surgery.

Dog Day Afternoon was shot primarily at a bank in Brooklyn, NY that no longer exists. Some exteriors were filmed near Prospect Park.


Movie #8: Deterrence (1999)

This political drama film imagines what might happen if the US president gets holed up in a diner during a freak snowstorm and has to deal with an escalating nuclear crisis at the same time.

The movie was filmed entirely in a diner (set in Colorado).


Movie #9: Tape (2001)

This American drama film starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman is based on a play of the same name. The simple plot involves three old high school friends meeting in a motel room and dissecting painful memories from their past.

The movie takes place in real time and was filmed entirely in a single room in New York.


Movie #10: Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Arsenic and Old Lace | This work is in the public domain

This Frank Capra screwball dark comedy based on a stageplay concerns a writer (Cary Grant) whose aunts turn out to be serial murderers who poison aged bachelors “to end their suffering”.

The film was shot entirely in the Warner Brothers Burbank Studios in Burbank, California.


Hopefully, some of the above examples can inspire filmmakers and film producers to think about how to sufficiently amend the scale of their projects (if feasible) to enable them to more easily move forward in this ongoing COVID pandemic environment.

Good luck and take care,

—The Front Row Team


About: Front Row Insurance Brokers Inc. is an independent insurance broker that provides film insurance for a very low cost. Should a claim occur, Front Row works diligently with clients and insurers to expedite the payment of claims.


WSPS Guidance on COVID-19


Rear Window photo: Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1692012427, Shutterstock

My Dinner w/ Andre photo: Royalty-free stock photo ID: 631982939, Shutterstock

Sleuth photo: Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1109553560, Shutterstock

Arsenic and Old Lace photo: This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1925 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed.

Topics: COVID-19

Guidance on Health and Safety for Film & TV Workers during COVID-19

Posted by Grant Patten on May 15, 2020 11:04:26 AM


HEALTH & SAFETY FOR FILM & TV WORKERS DURING COVID-19Source: Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1680037777, Shutterstock

The Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) has released some helpful guidelines for those in the film, TV and live performance industries who will soon be returning to production work in this COVID-19 environment. WSPS is an Ontario-focused organization, but this information could still be useful to those in other provinces or even the US as well.

Front Row Insurance is merely passing on these WSPS guidelines that might be helpful to some in planning their return to production, but please also consult an employment lawyer, public health and industry associations and government recommendations. The below is for informational purposes only and should not be considered advice.

Controls to consider for returning to production during COVID-19:

The WSPS documents have some helpful points to consider, including…

Are there tasks you can minimize or eliminate? For example, could any scenes that were planned to involve numerous people potentially be cut down to fewer people? Similarly, can scenes that involved people close together potentially be restructured to allow social distancing?

Limit entry points and control who comes onto set, who they speak to, and what they handle.

Have all crewmembers and visitors wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available, before entering the set, after contact with others, and with surfaces others have touched.

Train crewmembers on COVID-19 transmission points, steps being taken to protect them, and how to protect themselves, including frequent hand sanitizing, and not touching their face.

Is there an opportunity to put barriers in place between crewmembers on set? Consider using floor markings to keep people at a safe distance apart.

Is there an opportunity to improve fresh air intake/air circulation on set?

Increase cleaning frequency – on everything from desks, seats and vehicles to commonly touched surfaces like cameras, computers, microphones, phones, door handles and switches.

Ensure laundering instructions are being followed for wardrobe.

Review sanitation practices for hair and makeup stations to avoid spreading the virus and implement new practices.

Replace buffets with wrapped food items.

Consider having personal protective equipment (PPE) for crewmembers. Some examples of PPE that may be suited to supervisors, production or operations management work include gloves, masks, goggles and/or face shields.

Review your preventative measures on an ongoing basis, and adjust them if they are not working well enough or causing other issues with your work.

COVID Guideline Documents from Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS):

The above points are selections from the WSPS documents; you are encouraged to download the full documents, linked below:

Download: Workplace Safety & Prevention Services Guidance on Health and Safety for Television Hosts, Technical Crews and other TV and Film Employees during COVID-19 [PDF]

Download: Workplace Safety & Prevention Services Guidance on Health and Safety for Television, Film and Live Performance Sector during COVID-19 [PDF]

NOTE: These documents are intended for informational purposes only to provide an overview of the potential hazards posed in the workplace due to COVID-19. They are not intended as medical advice, to provide a comprehensive risk assessment for all workplaces, or to replace any legislated workplace safety obligations. Due to the ongoing evolution of the situation in Ontario and around the world, these documents may be used as a guide for Employers in addition to guidance delivered by public health authorities such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ontario Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” Any use which is made of these documents by any Employer, or any reliance on or decisions to be made based on them, are the responsibility of the Employer.

Good luck and take care,
The Front Row Team


Topics: Film Production, Film Producers, Film Production Companies, TV Series, COVID-19