Safe return to set: filming Reggie Yates' Pirates

The production team from Hillbilly Films and Television discuss how they shot the feature film Pirates under the restrictions of Covid-19.

Pirates is Reggie Yates' feature directorial debut. The Hillybilly Films and Television production team started shooting in February 2020 but were forced to shut down production three weeks later due to the coronavirus pandemic. After a six-month hiatus, production resumed in early September, eventually wrapping on 1 October.

The team reveals the challenges of having to suspend filming midway through production and then implement Covid safety measures before shooting could finally resume. 

Roxanne Holman talks about her role as a Covid supervisor and how the crew wore coloured wrist bands each day and had an app for ordering food. She says having a production background is essential for the role.

The team estimates that shooting safely during the pandemic increases the cost of production by about a third. When they used actors’ doubles, for example, they had to provide two identical costumes because sharing a costume isn’t safe.

They also explain how working safely during the pandemic has affected their post-production workflow.

About the speakers

Polly Leys is the co-founder of Hillbilly Films and Television and has produced or exec produced all of Hillbilly’s output to date. Prior to setting up Hillbilly she co-produced The Full Monty, one of the most successful British films of all time as well as working on films including Palookaville and The Crying Game.

Kate Norrish is the co-founder of Hillbilly Films and Television. She has produced or exec produced all of Hillbilly’s film and television projects. Before this Kate worked at Channel 4 as managing editor programme support, at Maverick as head of development and as Women in Film and Television’s executive director.

Dylan Rees is the line producer on Pirates. He began his career as floor manager in live TV before moving into film. He was the line producer on films such as Blue Story, Perfect 10, After Love and an assortment of other indie films.

Jeroen Bogaert is a London based 1st AD, known for independent features such as Make Up, Days of the Bagnold Summer, After Love, Mogul Mowgli and many others. Originally from Belgium, Jeroen has previously gained credits in a variety of filmmaking departments and directs his own short films.

Roxanne Holman is a Covid supervisor. Roxanne is a professional short-form video producer through her production company Joker’s Pack. She has produced many drama shorts and is now working on her first features.

About the event

This a recording of an online event that took place on 19 November 2020, chaired by John Maidens, a profoundly-deaf award-winning TV and film director.The session was supported by ScreenSkills using National Lottery funds awarded by the BFI as part of the Future Film Skills programme. It was part of the safe return to set seminars organised by ScreenSkills and was introduced by Emma Turner, ScreenSkills lead for continuing professional development.

Take our course

To learn how to work safely on productions, go to our online coronavirus basic awareness on production course.