Comcast-backed Sky Studios has revealed that it is collaborating with producers to rework major drama series in the event that the UK heads back into another Covid-induced lockdown.
Deadline reported last week that series including Sky/Epix co-production Britannia and A Discovery Of Witches, which is made in partnership with AMC, will be back in production by the end of September.
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Sky Studios CEO Gary Davey confirmed this during a virtual Broadcasting Press Guild lunch on Wednesday, but said producers are putting in place contingency plans if shoots have to shut down again. This includes writing exit routes into scripts, in case shows have to wrap early.
He said: “In order to be cautious about whether or not there is a second wave of Covid, it’s been a really interesting exercise to rethink the editorial of a lot of the shows, especially the bigger shows.
“So, for example, we have rethought the number of episodes and had a good look at the editorial to figure out that, if there were a crisis, is there a way of rounding the story up early. So if it’s a 10-episode production, is there a way of managing the script in such a way that — if you had to — could you get out after six [episodes].”
Davey said Sky has drawn up a 55-page “bible” of safety protocols and is working on the assumption that shows will have to shoot through further coronavirus spikes. “It’s prudent to do that because having to shut down a big production again mid-shoot would be really quite catastrophic,” he said.
Sky chief commercial officer Jane Millichip added: “All of our Covid protocols are around learning to live with this to enable our in-house production and our producers to go back to work. It relies on the principle of reduced sets, groupings, distancing, and testing. But also we are planning this for the long haul, with the idea that we can continue to produce safely if there are spikes.”
Davey acknowledged that the costs of production will increase with more shoot days, but said producers are also making savings in other areas, such as reducing crew numbers. Millichip speculated that costs could balloon by 10%, but said that Sky is “sharing that burden” with producers.
Sky Studios had 29 shows across Europe derailed by the coronavirus pandemic and is now back into production on nine of these titles. This includes The Great British Bake Off, which is made by its production company Love Productions.