Christmas film rushes to finish shoot as COVID-19 restrictions tightened

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Christmas Coronation prop master Danielle French reached out to Postmedia on Thursday.

“My union, IATSE International, issued a directive on Sunday saying that all members needed to stop working immediately because of the health risks,” says French, who left the set but continued to work with the production by phone. “Our local shop steward said that this was only a cautionary measure, but I don’t see how it could be interpreted that way.”

However, French says filming did not wrap up by Wednesday, and that shooting will continue on Thursday and Friday. She agrees that the production has made efforts to keep crew numbers down, but that the set can’t possibly meet the requirements for social distancing. While not wanting to hurt her team, she feels that morally it’s wrong to keep working.

Extra snow is added to decorations as the cast and crew of Christmas Coronation. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

“I’m so torn on this,” she says. “I’ve put my heart and soul into the film, and I really love our team. It’s a fantastic crew, and leaving feels like ripping out pieces of my soul. But we’re in a state of emergency, and going forward is a risk not just to my own health, but also the rest of society.”

Scholotiuk is sympathetic to French’s concerns, but is adamant that the production has been diligent with health protocols. Acknowledging that the film is continuing on for two additional days, Scholotiuk feels that the directive allows for union members to continue on set if they so desire, with no penalty.

“None of this is happening without any communication,” he stresses. “We’ve had a few crew members bow out due to concerns, and I’ve reached out to them, but we absolutely understand if someone doesn’t feel comfortable with this.”

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