Can you tell us a bit about The War of the Worlds and when viewers will be able to watch it?
The second series of War of the Worlds will see the characters from the first 8 eps continue their fight for survival. Along the way we meet new characters that provide a fresh take on the experience that the survivors are enduring. We can expect to see this hit screens in Spring next year.
Where were you in terms of production on the show when we entered the first national lockdown?
Day one of prep was day one of the national lockdown.
Can you talk us though the planning process during lockdown? What were the key issues / decisions that were affected by the pandemic?
We knew we had to shoot on 13th July due to cast availability, so from day one we started drawing up our protocols that would enable us to start shooting on that date. We started with the government guidelines and then worked through every aspect of a shoot and thought about the different challenges we might face and suggested a protocol that would prevent any spread of the virus. We then shared our protocols with HODs and suppliers for their thoughts before running it passed every organisation we could such as 1st Option, PACT, Bectu, our legal team etc. Finally we shared it with the team at Creative Wales who we needed sign off from to legally shoot. Once those protocols were in place we tackled getting things started to allow us to shoot, construction commenced, director recces kicked off and casting began remotely. We were faced with concerns about how shooting with our protocols would delay the schedule but we went into the process with a more positive mind set and instead looked at what we had to put in place to facilitate a normal shooting day which we managed successfully.
Was there any legislation put in place that made the process easier / you found helpful?
Creative Wales were incredibly supportive at each stage and fought for us on a government level. Legislation seemed to change just in time whenever we faced a hurdle and a lot of this was due to the Welsh government support. The key one for us was the change in rules regarding quarantine for those working in the TV and Film industry. This allowed our cast from France, USA and Belgium to come and film with us.
What protocols did you put in place to get production up and running?
The list is endless but the key for us being the first out of the block was putting as many protocols in place that meant we didn’t rely on one or two protective measures. Temperature checks, PPE, social distancing, washing hands and anti-bac stations everywhere, masks, daily testing etc were all introduced to make sure we put everything in place to protect our cast and crew. With nobody to follow we also did a rehearsal shoot day before the cast started where we put on a full shoot day with SAs booked to play the role of the cast. We ran the whole day as we would normally and road tested every protocol which helped us iron out any issues and also make changes where we needed to. It gave us the confidence needed to start shooting and on day one we looked professional and organised so the cast were happy with how we were working.
What were the key challenges for the production during lockdown?
Access to locations was our main challenge. Staff in locations and businesses were furloughed and were hard to reach. Our location team lead by Finlay Bradbury absolutely smashed it we managed to get into some fantastic sites for the shoot. Bristol and Cardiff were particularly helpful, their Film Office’s worked with the production to ensure locations were well aware of our strict Covid protocols, which meant that very few requests in Bristol and Cardiff were turned down.
Were there any opportunities or benefits to come out of lockdown? Were there any practices that you might incorporate post pandemic?
The rehearsal day was useful as it got those first day teething issues out of the way and also allowed us to pre-light our sets on camera. If the costs of technology such as Q-Take drop post Covid we would look to introduce it so that we can provide space for the depts to work in cohorts. It is however a bit prohibitive in cost at the moment. Zoom and being forced to work at home has hopefully shown that we are able to do more remotely. We started prep and for the first few weeks we were able to manage and still feel like we were able to be at home and cut out commuting etc which was fantastic. Being able to conduct meetings using it has really cut the amount of travel to London for meetings as well which is a blessing for the environment, our time and money.
How do you feel Covid-19 has affected the industry? Do you think it will affect its future and if so how?
Hopefully local crews in the nations and regions get more of a look in for work that comes into their hometowns at every level. In order to reduce the number of people travelling away from home we were able to support the local crew in South Wales and Bristol where we could which was fantastic. You don’t need to travel everybody from London and perhaps some of those London based crew might realise they don’t need to be there to get work. It would also be great to see local talent agencies considered by casting directors and producers even if for smaller roles.