Tom Cruise has saved the world from a massive disaster in each new installment of the Mission Impossible series. But the actor and producer faced his biggest challenge yet when he had to complete filming for Mission: Impossible 7 in the midst of a global medical emergency. This was one mission too impossible for Cruise to undertake alone. In an interview with Variety, Jostein Brå Oksavik, the Norwegian medical supervisor on Mission: Impossible 7 detailed the steps taken to ensure an infection-free shoot for the movie in Norway.
"My job was to help provide the production with necessary competence, equipment and crew. The shoot lasted for six weeks, which equals the pre-production period before the shoot. The Norwegian [medical] crew consisted of more than 10 employees, supporting the British crew of several nurses and medics led by Rachel Westcott from World Extreme Medicine. I am happy to say we didn't have any [infection] cases."
The trouble with big-budget movie shoots during the current era of social-distancing is that it is impossible to ensure that the hundreds of members of the cast and crew of the shoot are all free of infection at the start of the production. According to Oksavik, his team's goal is not just to prevent infected people from joining the shoot, but also preventing the spread of infection to others on set.
"Whether you get an infected person or not among the staff is really out of your hands. What you can control is early detection, social distancing and sanitation to avoid the spread, and infection tracing routines to handle potential cases. In addition, the west coast of Norway had a very low infection rate, so the probability of infection was very low. In this regard, 99% [of a zero-case record] is due to a strict regime and planning, and the rest is due to luck."
While luck certainly has a part to play in ensuring no new cases of infection, there were a number of rigorous precautions taken by Oksavik and his team on a daily basis to ensure the set and its surroundings were kept as sanitary and germ-free as possible.
"We tested all personnel involved - in total, more than 900 people - on a weekly basis. In addition to crew and cast, these were all others involved, such as drivers, ambulance personnel and security guards. But testing isn't enough. Everyone also had to keep a distance of two meters, wear masks and wash and sanitize their hands often. We ordered tens of thousands of masks and tons of alcohol sanitizer, in addition to very strict access control."
"Our security company also monitored the daily temperature checks performed by our medics on all cast and crew and made sure that no unauthorized persons entered the shooting areas. Every employee had to scan a QR code to access cars and locations in order to trace infection if necessary. Our hotel ship Hurtigruten had similarly strict measures. I'd like to emphasize that we hired private health services, so that we didn't burden the local health resources."
Mission: Impossible 7 features the returning cast of Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, and Vanessa Kirby, alongside Henry Czerny, Esai Morales, Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, and Shea Whigham. The film arrives in theaters November 19, 2021, while Mission: Impossible 8 is set to be released on November 4, 2022. This news first appeared at Variety.