Filming ‘Locked Down’ while in lockdown: How did filmmakers do it?
When the internet found out there was going to be a 2020 quarantine-themed movie called Locked Down there was a collective sigh. Seeing as we’re still dealing with the pandemic that put us in lockdowns it seemed like a case of too soon.
However, as soon as the trailer was released a lot of people immediately changed their tune. The film starring Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor looks like a fun & refreshing comedy caper that just so happens to take place during the pandemic. People were ready to forgive the initial concept in favor of a new funny movie – since theaters have been closed for nearly a year people seemed extra hungry for it.
But Locked Down was filmed during the pandemic in England – how did they make it happen, and how’d they do it safely? Here’s what we know about the movie’s production phase.
No movies in production
Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) and Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders) found themselves, like practically everyone in the world, in a world filled with lockdowns and quarantine measures. Almost the entire entertainment industry stopped in its tracks with only a couple of movies – with massive budgets – still soldiering on.
Liman describes their crazy plan saying, “When there’s nothing going into production, every actor is available. We’d be the first independent film. It’s totally uncharted territory.” Not only was the film created independently, but it’s believed it was on a tight budget as well – no numbers have been released, but Liman hinted it “started with a three” and was implied to have been less than $10 million . . . you can do the math.
“I’m not sure which one was riskier: the stealing of the diamond or the attempting to make a film under these circumstances.”
Making the movie
Locked Down tells the story of a frustrated couple in lockdown who eventually decide to attempt robbing the flashy & expensive department store Harrods. Limon mentioned they never would have been able to make this movie (or at least film in the actual Harrods) if it weren’t for the fact it had been completely closed down due to COVID-19 concerns.
The movie had its own set of COVID-19 concerns and worked to ensure everyone was kept as safe as possible. Hathaway and Ejiofor were kept in a “quarantine bubble” and most other actors were filmed at a distance.
Production was also forced into the smallest window possible. It was filmed in late September and early October so there was concern that lockdown conditions would soon worsen – making filming impossible. Principal photography for Locked Down was finished in 18 days in London. (There were no reshoots for Locked Down.) Due to the constraints and a need for flexibility (the weather wasn’t always on their side) it became a common practice on the set for Hathaway and Ejiofor to have their lines surreptitiously taped on set for them to view while acting.
Harrods helps out
Harrods hasn’t ever closed their doors in their 172-year history, however, the pandemic forced a break in their streak. When they were approached by Liman and Knight they were told that it had to be Harrods, that there wasn’t a script yet, but that if they said “no” a script wouldn’t even be written because there was no plan B. Harrods gave the greenlight to film on their premises.
Not only that, but they provided some of their employees to stand in as extras. The Harrods employees in the movie are real Harrods employees. They provided access to a number of different areas in the building, but drew the line at filming in the vault. They wouldn’t allow that.
However, Liman convinced them to allow some pictures to be taken so they could create a realistic set. Harrods agreed, and eventually changed their minds – allowing Locked Down to film inside the vault as long as they didn’t disclose where the vault was in the building.
Liman describes looking at the vault with his producer saying, “There’s an air lock to get in. The person who brought us there went out. I look at Allison and I’m like, ‘We are alone in the Harrods vault. We have literally become one with our characters.’”
If you’d like to watch Locked Down for yourself it’s being released on January 14 to the streaming service HBO Max.