Magazine article Risk Management

Break a Leg:: The Risks of Moviemaking

Magazine article Risk Management

Break a Leg:: The Risks of Moviemaking

Article excerpt

Hollywood Risks

When Harmon Ford "piloted" a disabled 747 to a safe landing during the filming oí Air Force One, everyone with a financial stake in the movie smiled broadly while anticipating a flood of box-office receipts- But at the end of the shooting divv while die rest oí die cost and crew piled into cars to brave the Los Angeles freeway. Ford chose to fly above the gridlock by piloting his own Bell 206 helicopter, That meant dut with every whir of Ford's propeller blade, the film's backers - the studio, bankers, investors, those holding the lucrative foreign distribution rights - were now turning a whiter shade of pile.

It has even been reported that Ford, while fuming 2011's Cowboys & Aliens, graciously offered the cist and crew chopper rides home at the end of the workday. "You'd get a tap on the shoulder asking if you wanted a lift home," the film's director Jon Favreau told die New York Post. While a smooth, easy ride home was the likeliest outcome, die worst-case scenario was frightening; on« bad downdraft had the potential to take- our an entire cast.

Actors who pilot their own aircraft are fairly common diese days. We've all seen photos of John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt smiling while «rapped into a cockpit. It is probably no different than in the 1960s and '70s when Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and James Garner loved die thrill of racing cars at 100 miles per hour, much to the chagrin of the studios. But when a hobby has the potential to put a major motion picture in jeopardy, and an investmenr of upwards of a 5100 million rests on the shoulders of whether or not an A-List actor is going to land his aircraft safely, certain precautions musi be pur in place.

Insuring Pilots and Injuries

When we talk about norwradiik>nal film rides. insurance coverage is already in place when a film production is launched-even before Travolta's wheels lift off the tarmac and die money guys are beading for group therapy, There are a number of specialty insurance broken within the industry whose sole purpose is ro protect a Fdm or TV show's production costs while shooting.

This insurance also covers risks associated with cast insurance (i.e., injury, death and abandonment), Case in point: Halle tWrry broke her foot while on location in Spain filming Cloud Atttu, which pushed back shooting two-and-a-half weeks to allow the actress's foot to heal. (She would then re-injure it during filming.)

Along with injuries to the cast, the insurance also covers delays caused by fire, theft, damaged film and other setbacks, and it typically totals between 0.8%-1.5% of the film's entire budget. This number can fluctuate, however, based on such factors as where the film is being shot or an actor's health. " Traditional insurance can cover almost anything that impairs the ability to make film." said Konrad Dowling, managing director of Arthur J. Gallagher Entertainment Services in Glendale, California.

Dowlings firm insured, in one capacity or another, two-thirds of the films that were nominated at this years Academy Awards. But as successful as Gallagher and the handful of other insurance brokers that operate in this arena are, there are some risks that cannot be underwritten by traditional carriers. "That's when we need to fill the gaps with a specialized underwriter: a company that is able to take on the added risk," he said

An actor wanting to pilot his own aircraft during production of a film would qualify as something left to specialty insurance) and die cost of coverage can vary depending on how many times the star imended to fly the aircraft during filming (everyday or just the last day of shouting?) and where he is flying (over Beverly Hills or Afghanistan?).

But this risk is becoming more and more common. "Last year alone we worked on at leat four films that involved having io obtain specialised insurance For A-list actors who were also pilots," said Dowling. …

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