Johnny Flynn-fronted heist musical “The Score” has wrapped production in the U.K., joining a handful of films that have started and completed filming during the pandemic.
The directorial debut of U.K. filmmaker Malachi Smyth finished production on Friday (Oct. 2) after two months of filming between Luton Hoo and the Royal Gunpowder Mills in England. The feature joins the ranks of Akshay Kumar’s “Bellbottom,” which also shot in its entirety during the pandemic.
The film, which is sold internationally by WestEnd Films, technically started production on March 16, but shot for just one day before being forced to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Filming resumed on Aug. 31.
“From March until Aug. 31, that whole time was spent monitoring the COVID-19 situation, figuring out how to go back to work, figuring out the insurance situation, making sure cast and agents were comfortable, and plotting what a return to work in a COVID-safe environment would look like and cost and how to implement it. It took a number of months to put in place,” producer Matthew James Wilkinson of Stigma Films (“Yesterday,” “Amulet”) tells Variety.
“The Score” stars Johnny Flynn (“Beast,” “Emma”), BAFTA Rising Star Award winner Will Poulter (“Midsommar,” “The Revenant”), BAFTA winner Naomi Ackie (“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” “Lady Macbeth”) and Lydia Wilson (“Star Trek Beyond,” “About Time”). It turns on two small time crooks, Mike (Flynn) and Troy (Poulter), who are on a mission, known as ‘The Score,’ that they both expect to transform their circumstances. However, as they await the job at a roadside café, Troy falls in love with waitress Gloria (Ackie), and begins to question his life choices, while the threat of real danger hurtles towards the pair.
Wilkinson says the production was insured as it started ahead of the pandemic and was not subject to any COVID-19 exclusion clauses. Nonetheless, it still relied on support from the BFI COVID-19 Production Continuation Fund, a temporary fund for independent productions unavoidably interrupted as a direct result of the pandemic. Backed by National Lottery funding, up to £150,000 ($194,000) per project was available for productions in critical financial need to help cover unexpected additional costs.
A “Golden Circle” bubble was put in place, containing primary cast, director and DP — a group that had to be socially distanced from the rest of the crew to protect from any potential COVID-19 occurrences. Cast and crew were tested weekly, though no cases transpired over the two months of filming.
Although the core cast remained in place, Los Angeles-based Antonia Thomas had to drop out of the film due to travel restrictions.
Wilkinson notes that “The Score” is fortunate to have filmed before more serious COVID-19 restrictions are put in place in the U.K., where cases are again on the rise. The producer highlights that the government-backed insurance scheme remains the final hurdle. “The main thing for producers is the insurance issue. They want to keep people safe, but it’s about knowing that if you have to stop, you have the money and ability to start again. I think people are just very keen to understand what’s happening with the government, and whether they will qualify and what will be covered.”
As reported by Variety, the insurance scheme is now open to applications, but can’t yet go live without European Union approval.
Meanwhile, “The Score” will be part of the BFI London Film Festival’s new Works-In-Progress strand. On Oct. 9, selected buyers and festival programmers will get a chance to see an exclusive first clip of the film, followed by a short Q&A with Smyth and Flynn.
The film is written and directed by Smyth (“Gateway 6”) and produced by Wilkinson as well as Ben Pullen of Sentinel Entertainment (“Gateway 6”). Isabelle Georgeaux of Pont Neuf will co-produce. The film will feature songs by Flynn, who is the lead singer and songwriter of band Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit.
Executive producers on the project are Nick Angel, who recently collaborated with Wilkinson on “Yesterday,” and Tim Dellow of Transgressive, which represents Johnny Flynn’s music. Crew members include casting director Kelly Valentine Hendry (“Fleabag”), production designer Paul Cripps (“Dredd,” “Never Let Me Go”) and director of photography Darran Bragg (“Tomorrow,” “Recycling Lily”).
WestEnd is handling handling world sales and will present a first promo of the film to buyers at the virtual AFM.