Production has wrapped on Mike Flanagan’s high-profile Netflix horror series Midnight Mass for Netflix. In a series of tweets early Wednesday, Flanagan announced the news, spoke about how the show was able to pull off an uninterrupted shoot of 83 days amid the pandemic and thanked his cast and crew.
“That’s a wrap on MIDNIGHT MASS,” wrote Flanagan, who also directed all episodes. “It has been an extraordinary, unprecedented production, and I cannot be prouder of this amazing cast and crew. In fact – and I do not say this lightly – this has been the best production experience of my career.”
As Deadline reported, Midnight Mass was the first U.S. series to start production in Vancouver in August, right after American studios reached agreements with the local unions over COVID protocols. The series did not have to shut down over Covid cases and also was not impacted by the backlog at a Vancouver lab that idled a number of U.S. productions in late September-early October. In Midnight Mass, starring Zach Gilford, Kate Siegel and Hamish Linklater, an isolated island community experiences miraculous events – and frightening omens – after the arrival of a charismatic, mysterious young priest.
Read below Flanagan’s posts in a form of an emotional essay about Midnight Mass‘ journey from final pre-production in early March through a lengthy industry shutdown and an August restart to the successful completion of the season. He chronicles the challenges that cast and crew faced and how everyone adjusted to safety guidelines and frequent testing, keeping on-set interaction to a minimum, and how they finished a four-month shoot having never seen the faces of some of their coworkers below the eyes. “KN95 masks, face shields and hand sanitation became a way of daily life,” he wrote.” Having the swab stuck up our noses became normal. As time went on, we’d have thoughtful debates about which TYPE of swab we preferred.”
We began prepping this series in December, 2019. We were mere days away from shooting when the production was shut down in March 2020 because of the pandemic. We left our sets standing, dropped everything and frantically got our cast and crew to their homes as the lockdown began.
Kate and I were the last Americans from the show to leave Vancouver, and from the airplane window I could see our sets standing at Garry Point Park. They’d remain standing for months, at the mercy of the elements, and we had no idea when or if we’d be able to return.
I kept in regular contact with the cast and crew during lockdown. When talk turned to resuming production, it became clear that we might be one of the very first shows to attempt it. There was no playbook. This was completely uncharted territory.
We resumed prep in July 2020, and actually began shooting on August 17th. By the time certain other productions were getting headlines for “leading the charge” and “reigniting Vancouver production” in early September, we’d already been quietly shooting for several weeks.
Our COVID safety protocols were thorough, scientific, and strictly enforced. Our precautions paid off – we did not miss a single day of production, and unlike a lot of other shows, we did not shut down once. Not one time. 83 shooting days, without interruption.
Which isn’t to say it wasn’t harrowing. HUGE crew. Dozens of extras. Over 100 people in some interior scenes. It was the biggest and most ambitious project of my career thus far, and figuring out how to accomplish it safely became an unprecedented challenge.
Our cast and crew demonstrated remarkable respect, caution, and care for each other on a daily basis, choosing to protect each other with their behavior, both on set and off. KN95 masks, face shields and hand sanitation became a way of daily life.
The cast adjusted to an entirely new reality on set, where they looked out to a sea of masked faces, and were kept isolated. They’d only interact with crew in the “red zone”, or the “performance zone.” The usual emersion in set culture was gone.
COVID testing became routine. One or twice a week depending on the department, even daily testing once we got into large interior sequences. Having the swab stuck up our noses became normal. As time went on, we’d have thoughtful debates about which TYPE of swab we preferred.
The crew worked closely for months without knowing what some people looked like below the eyes. When we’d glimpse someone changing a mask or drinking water in one of the “green zone” plexiglass booths on the outskirts of set, we’d be surprised to see each other’s faces.
But we embraced the new normal. We didn’t pay attention to rumors that other productions were being looser with their protocols, we didn’t panic if we heard about other shows having cases or shutting down. We just took care of each other and stuck to our protocols.
Newcomers and day players were expected to adhere, and the cast and crew made sure they did. If someone chose not to, they weren’t here long. The overwhelming majority of people embraced the protocols and were grateful that they were there.
It paid off. Other productions began calling for advice. As days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months and we kept working, we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It wasn’t just that we might actually wrap the show… we might actually wrap ON SCHEDULE.
And now, today, we did. On time, on target. The plan we outlined last Spring, which seemed almost impossible in its complexity and uncertainty, actually WORKED. It’s as though we threw a dart in June, and somehow – against all odds – watched it hit the bullseye in December.
This series has been a dream project of mine for many, many years. It is the most personal story I’ve ever told. I’ve been reluctant to direct a whole season again after HILL HOUSE, but I’m so glad I did in this case. I am so lucky to have worked with this cast and crew.
2020 was a year of unprecedented awfulness on planet Earth. In the scheme of things, it feels like a television show doesn’t really matter. But I feel so lucky to have worked with the amazing people I worked with, and to have gone through this experience with them all.
The cast and crew of MIDNIGHT MASS hold a unique, permanent place of honor in my heart and memory, and always, always will. There will never again be a production like this one. We all step away from it different than when we started. It’s never been this hard to say goodbye.
To my cast and crew: you have my gratitude, admiration, and a respect I can’t put into words. Thank you for taking care of yourselves and each other. I’ll never forget this journey we took together. And at long last, somehow, because of each and every one of you… that’s a wrap.