A video of someone applying fake blood on the face of a man has been shared thousands of times on Facebook with the claim that it shows media staging victims from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the clip is not from a news production and has nothing to do with the deadly conflict; it was posted two months ago and was filmed back in 2020 on the set of a TV series.
“This is how reports are made!” reads the Slovak caption of a version of the video published on Facebook on February 26, 2022 and shared by more than 3,000 users since. The clip was also shared in several other languages, such as Serbian, Hungarian and Greek, with captions accusing the media of faking casualties in Ukraine.
In the nine-second video, we see a smiling young woman and a young man, whose face is being painted with fake blood.
Screenshots of the Slovak post were also shared on Facebook here and here.
Some commentators connected the footage to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, concluding it was proof that the media are lying about civilian victims of the invasion Russia launched on February 24, 2022.
“Watch how propaganda is made in collaboration with the media, they don’t even pretend,” reads a Slovak comment under the video shared here.
In reality, as of March 2, 2022 more than 220 civilians had been confirmed killed in the conflict in Ukraine, according to a United Nations report that said it expected the real toll to be “considerably higher”.
Video from ‘Zombie’ series
AFP traced the video back to a clip published on TikTok on December 28, 2021 by the account of Daria Driuchenko, a Ukrainian producer. The description of the video reads “Driu Production”, the name of her Ukrainian production company, whose website can be found here.
The original video also has the text “Zombie movie” written on top of it — something that has been cropped out of the version circulating on social media.
Someone in the comments of the TikTok video asked what was being filmed and Driuchenko answered “series Contamin for Netflix”.
Driuchenko told AFP in a March 2 email that the video, which she said she deleted from her account on March 1, showed a behind-the-scenes clip from the Contamin series and was filmed in November 2020. “We are film makers so we have a lot of making-of videos,” she said.
AFP found evidence that the series Contamin indeed exists and is directed by Harald Franklin, a Germany-based film producer who has also posted about the filming of the series on his Facebook page.
The show is about a pandemic caused by a virus that was “made in a laboratory” and is “worse than Covid-19”, according to the trailer posted on Youtube.
The young woman from the TikTok video is recognisable in a scene from the series shown in a reel posted by Harald Franklin on Vimeo.
The young man, recognisable by his blood-stained jacket, is also seen with other actors on the set in a photo posted by Driu Production on Instagram on February 17, 2021.
More recent comments under the original TikTok video also indicated that before it was deleted, people had started believing it showed the faking of casualties in the conflict in Ukraine, despite the date of its posting and the text “Zombie movie” on the video clearly saying otherwise.
More than one million refugees have fled Ukraine since the conflict erupted on February 24, 2022, according to the UN.
Most refugees have fled to to Poland, Hungry, Slovakia and Moldova, according to UN data.
March 4, 2022: This article was updated to add a quote from the producer who filmed the original video. War casualties were also updated.