Veteran producer Lucas Foster (“Ford v Ferrari,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”) has teamed with Australian safety expert Jon Heaney to launch safety advisory company Film Industry Risk Management. The pair recently co-operated on the successful production of “Children of the Corn” through the coronavirus pandemic and industry shutdown in New South Wales.
The company is structured to assist productions keep up with fast-changing safety protocols and to manage the risks associated with filming. Foster and company president Heaney are joined in FIRM by French producer Mathieu Bonzon and first assistant director Sean Harner, giving the Los Angeles-based venture outposts in Australia, North America and Europe.
FIRM sees its clients as financiers and producers. It is proposing services that include: risk assessments, safety reports, on-set safety management, staffing and training.
“Film Industry Risk Management has been built to be at the forefront of the global entertainment industry push to re-start the motion picture, television and commercials industry with the emphasis on having stand-alone safety departments with formalized on set safety procedures going forward into the future,” said Heaney.
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“Australia has always had a holistic view built around on-set safety supervisors, people who are dedicated to the safety of everybody, and who are not just working at departmental level,” Heaney told Variety. “It is a system, which may be unfamiliar to American productions that have come to Australia, but which has proven to work very well.”
A former stunt man, stunt coordinator and live entertainment specialist, Heaney re-qualified and transitioned to be a safety supervisor. He has since advised on hundreds of productions from stills photography to major film shoots. His credits include “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” and “The Great Gatsby.”
“Thanks to Jon Heaney and his team, we were able to keep going when most others had to stop their productions,” said Foster of “Children of the Corn.” “He gave us the confidence and the tools to make the critical decisions that led us to complete our main mission — shooting the film. He made it possible to be able to continue to make our movie and keep everyone physically safe and emotionally strong, while doing our jobs.”
COVID-19 safety protocols are changing the way that producers and productions operate. This adds to the time necessary for filming and increases costs.
“With ‘Children of the Corn’ it may have added as much as 20% to the cost. We don’t believe that it needs to be that high. What we want to do is get that down, though there will always be some things we can’t change such as the cost of personal protective equipment,” Heaney said.
He estimates that changed on-set arrival and departure times, staggered transfers, altered call times, and extra personnel can extend the duration of a production by 5-10%.
“We carried on during what became a huge, worldwide work stoppage. Now, we want to help other producers and enterprises to get their productions back on track, safely and confidently,” said Foster.