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Video of film crew and fleeing crowd does not show the media staging war scenes from Ukraine

Faktatjek 2. mar 2022  -  3 min læsetid
A behind-the-scenes video along with a shortened version are being shared as misinformation, claimed to depict either fleeing Ukrainians or the media staging Ukrainians running for the lives. In reality, the people in the video are extras on a film set acting that they are running from invading alien spaceships. Foto: YouTube/Richard Wood
  • A video clip of a film crew instructing a crowd to run screaming across a town square is being shared widely on social media. So is a shortened version showing only the screaming crowd

  • The second clip is being construed to show Ukrainians fleeing from Russian invasion forces, while the first clip is claimed to depict media staging such scenes

  • In reality, though, the clip is a behind-the-scenes shot from 2013 of a British sci-fi movie in which people are running from attacking alien spaceships

  • The director of the film was shocked to realise that footage of his production was being shared in relation to the war in Ukraine

A film crew is standing in front of a waiting crowd in a town square. “Roll camera,” a man shouts into a megaphone. Another claps a clapperboard in front of a camera. “Here we go,” the first man shouts: “Action!”. The crowd runs screaming across the square towards the camera. 

This sequence, lasting short of half a minute, is currently being shared widely on social media as proof that the devastating scenes coming out of Ukraine these days are in fact staged by the media. One Danish Facebook post containing the video clip has been shared more than 43 thousand times over the last few days. 

The post contains yet another video clip, a shortened version of the first one, showing only the running and screaming crowd. The shortened version has been shared with claims of depicting “helpless Ukrainians” running from Russian invasion forces. 

In reality, though, the clips do not depict Ukrainians running for their lives. Nor are they proof that the media are staging such scenes. 

The clip was shot in 2013 in the British city of Birmingham during the filming of a science fiction motion picture. In the movie, the crowd runs away from aliens attacking in spaceships.

One Danish Facebook post containing the video clip has been shared more than 43 thousand times over the last few days. Foto: Screenshot/Facebook

Running from aliens

“I was shocked.” 

This was the reaction of British filmmaker and director of the sci-fi movie Invasion Planet Earth, Simon Cox, when he realised that a behind-the-scenes video of the production of his film was being circulated in relation to the current war in Ukraine. He’s the man wielding the megaphone in the clip.

The film had just been released in Spain, Simon Cox explains, and he was searching the web to see if it had gotten any attention from the Spanish press when he came across loads of foreign tweets mentioning his film. 

“I Google Translated some of them into English and a lot of them were saying that the video had been used for something to do with the war that's going on.”

The clip was filmed in Victoria Square in the city centre of Birmingham, he explains. In Invasion Planet Earth aliens invade Earth, and there’s a scene of alien spaceships attacking a British city made to resemble London, the British capital. What the clip is actually meant to depict is people running from spaceships. 

When TjekDet tells Simon Cox that the clip is being construed to show either fleeing Ukrainians or evidence of media staging footage of Ukrainians running for their lives, he exclaims: 

“That is nonsense!” 

He explains that the film was crowdfunded, meaning funded through multiple smaller donations.

“I wish the media had paid me for it,” he jokes. 

Scary when taken out of context

On both Facebook and Twitter, Simon Cox has attempted to clear up the misunderstanding, explaining that the clip was shot during the filming of Invasion Planet Earth and has nothing to do with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

He even posted comments to the Danish Facebook post sharing the clip. 

In the thread of that post other users point to a YouTube video of the original clip uploaded in 2013. In that video the Union Jack is visibly hanging from a flagpole in the left side of the picture, and, as Simon Cox points out, several of the extras are laughing while running - despite his instructions not to.

“What worries me is that it can look scary when taken out of context,” he says. 

On social media, he has explained that the clip was filmed in 2016. This can seem a bit puzzling considering the YouTube video was uploaded three years prior. The explanation: Mr. Cox has somewhat lost track of the production, he explains, as the movie was shot in bits over a period of approximately 10 years.

There is also a good explanation as to why the movie, according to the YouTube title, is called Kaleidoscope Man. Simon Cox explains that it was almost impossible to get distribution of the film under that title, and so they changed it to Invasion Planet Earth.

TjekDet has reached out to the user behind the popular Danish Facebook post for comment but has yet to receive an answer. 

The Twitter profile Breaking Updates that shared the shortened version of the clip with words of “helpless Ukrainians” first deleted the tweet and posted a correction. Now, the profile is no longer active.

Opdateret 16. dec 2022