Filed Under:Agent Broker, E&S/Specialty Business

Lights, Camera, Insurance

The work required to put a film on the big screen isn’t all Hollywood glamour. Learn what exposures often arise in filming the next big blockbuster, and how insurance can protect against film-related risks.

"Iron Man 2," the No. 3 grossing movie of 2010, featured an explosive scene set on the Monaco Grand Prix. Hero Tony Stark owns one of the F1 cars competing in the race and decides to race the car himself. Mid-race, villain Whiplash ambushes Stark and slices Stark’s car with his energy whips. The racecar rolls nose-to-tail before Whiplash slices the car into two pieces.

Pepper Potts, Starks’ Girl Friday, along with Stark’s personal driver, jump into a Rolls Royce and drive down the reverse route of the circuit, dodging other drivers. Stark climbs out of his car as other racecars pile up on the track. Whiplash slices several more cars until Stark is trapped by fiery wreckage.

There also is a significant amount of money involved in creating and building sets, wardrobes and costumes, particularly if the film is a period piece, said Lauren Bailey, vice president of entertainment at Fireman’s Fund. Coverage is required in case of a set fire or other disaster in which sets and costumes would need timely replacement to avoid production delays. "Shutting down a production can cost up to $250,000 a day for a major budget film," she said. Props, sets and wardrobe coverage are related to items "in front of the camera."

Production equipment also can represent a sizeable loss. Protection for cameras, sound equipment, lighting and other equipment used during filming can add up in cost, especially if the film is shot in a remote location.

Talking heads
Besides location, the type of film also plays a role in coverage. For example, a sports film has different needs than an animated film.

"We like what we call ‘talking head’ films—your dramas, comedies and romances," Ma said. The most difficult films to insure are sports films and films with stunts or pyrotechnic scenes. A specialized shoot that involves a building explosion that might run for 60 seconds on film can take 2 or 3 days to set up that one shot. If something goes wrong, that film incurs expenses.

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