Importance of Risk Management in Film Development

Written by Giuseppe Lucarelli

Earlier this summer, the much anticipated forthcoming 25th installment of the 007 film franchise, Bond 25, saw an explosion injure a crew member. This event followed an earlier mishap which left franchise star Daniel Craig with an ankle injury requiring surgery. In February, the set of L.A.’s Finest, featuring Gabriel Union and Jessica Alba saw a car crash, causing injury to the show’s executive producers and co-showrunners, landing both in the hospital and delaying filming.

Injuries and events on film and television sets are not uncommon. Often, actors, stunt men and women and crew are tasked with completing inherently dangerous tasks, executing expertly coordinated flight scenes and effectively landing life-threatening feats in the name. of entertainment. There is a certain level of assumed risk with joining a cast or crew and those in the industry are fully aware of the risks assumed when joining a film or show.

But, while the risks are inherent and known, more can be done to mitigate minor incidents and tragic events that can occur. Producers and directors have an inherent responsibility to limit the risk assumed by cast and crew and to create a set that is as safe as possible for all who enter. If not for safety purposes, the motivation in risk mitigation and management is bottom-line driven, ensuring the financial well-being of the project by staying on development track and limiting costly expenditures resulting from carelessness or lack of preparation. 

To quote the famed French microbiologist largely credited with the discovery of modern fermentation and pasteurization, Louis Pasteur, “fortune favors the prepared mind.” Said otherwise, careful risk assessment and planning now can save you a bundle on the backend. By ensuring awareness of risk, producers and directors can effectively plan and prepare for a worst-case scenario. 

Envision this – your carefully considered fight scene, scripted perfectly, is set to be executed by two novice fighters. Each has minimal experience in fight scenes. To be successful, your scene must look realistic, but maintain the safety of each of your actors. You need them to film additional scenes, after all. 

With a tight budget, you neglect the development of a risk assessment plan and skip on hiring a fight coordinator. On the day of the shoot, the fight scene goes widely awry, leaving one actor with a busted jaw, another with a broken nose, and you with ultimate responsibility. Fortunately, both injuries are comparatively minor, however both actors will require at least a few days of recovery, setting you back a few days in filming, not to mention editing and subsequently potentially delaying the final delivery of your film, requiring the expenditure of additional financial resources for each day of filming, the loss of revenue from each day your film is delayed coming to market, and liability concerns. 

For a big player, such a delay might be a minor setback, however for a small company, this delay could stand to break you. Proper preparation and risk assessment at the onset can minimize such exposure and ensure proper attention to your bottom line. 

But how? The film and television development and filming process is lengthy, with many moving parts and many quick pivots and shifts. With many facets, significant coordination, and quickly developing scenes, creation of a risk mitigation strategy might seem like a cumbersome task. And for smaller production companies, it may even seem like an extraneous, unnecessary cost. 

While there are several different components that go into development of a risk mitigation strategy for production, it’s best to begin with discovery, which includes a comprehensive risk assessment. This report reviews all potential risks on-set, providing a worst-case analysis of the risk, who is affected, and what the outcome could be. This report can help you understand the risks that exist, which ones are essential to prepare for, and which you should be aware of. Then, you can start to establish a plan for reach appropriate risk.

Such an activity might seem daunting. Preparation can be significant, and review can be tedious.  Companies like ours can help. 

Mountain Wind Productions is a full-service production shop with a background in risk management. Having worked for years in risk mitigation, as well as honing decades of experience in martial arts and fight coordination, we are well versed in risk analysis and management, specifically in film production. 

Any company that provides risk management services should offer consultatory assistance with  the following:

  • Proactive strategy development, management, and guidance

  • Contingency plans for natural disasters, security, and emergencies

  • Risk assessment and mitigation

  • Liaison with regulatory authorities

  • Insurance and location consultation

  • Fight Choreography 

  • Onsite Safety Consultation

  • Job safety analysis

  • Transportation Assessment & Planning

  • Working with untrained or inexperienced Crew

By assessing your risks early on and establishing a proactive plan to manage each, you can help ensure success of your project, your cast, and your crew.

Want to learn more about risk management in film development? Contact us today.

Giuseppe Lucarelli