There is a lot of travelling done over the course of a production.
Location location location
It all starts when the location manager is given the scripts. He (yes, there are female location managers as well but we’re using the term ‘he’) gets to have a read through of the outline of the series to see what kind of locations will be required.
He goes out and has a look around to find places he thinks might work well. He then sends in a report to the Producer who has a look and gets her team together for a recce.
A recce is when the team go out to have a look at the locations shortlisted by the location manager.
If there is one particular location that will feature in most episodes (like Liberty for example), the Producer, Art Director, Location Manager, Security Manager and Director of Photography will check it out.
If it is a location relevant to a particular episode then the Director will join the recce as will the First Assistant Director and other relevant crew members – from the lighting department for example.
Things this team are looking for include:-
Easy access to the location – there is no point choosing a beautiful location if nobody can get to it!
Distance from the studio – it would be hard to get a cast and crew to a location that is thousands of kilometres away!
Production value – anything that adds to the overall production value or feel of the programme is good.
Lighting – the Director of Photography and the Gaffer will check out the location to see if the lighting is suitable for filming and get an idea as to what equipment might be needed.
Scenery – the Art Director will want to know how much he has to ‘dress’ the location or change it to adapt to a certain moment in history.
Photography – the Director and Director of Photography will check to make sure that the location lends itself well to filming certain shots. It is hard to film a period drama if there is a modern day skyscraper in the back of shot!
Security – a location has to be safe for crewmembers and cast working there.
The team will go back to the studio and mull over the locations they have seen. Once they have settled on where they want to film the Location Manager gets to work.
He has to seek approval from people that own the location and get council permits allowing filming to take place.
Security and safety measures have to be put in place, parking and parking permits organised, toilets and food facilities provided and a myriad of other arrangements have to be made.
Getting to work on time
Cast and some crew have to travel down to Wellington for filming. Some directors, cast and producers have come from as far away as the UK and the USA.
Day to day travel is a huge part of the filming process. At the studio base the large camera trucks, make-up vans and other vehicles are housed to keep them safe and secure. These vehicles can then be accessed for lights, costumes, etc. as and when needed.
When filming takes place on location however the crew have to get to the studio, grab their vehicles and drive them out to set. This can mean an early morning call of 4am to get to set in time for daylight to break and setting up of equipment so that filming can begin on time.
Crewmembers are designated to drive certain vehicles and luckily most are good drivers as some of the locations can be pretty dodgy to drive to, especially if the weather has been bad!
Cast members are picked up nice and early whether we are filming on location or at the studio. They have to get to work before their call time so that they can get changed and made-up which is quite a lengthy process in many cases.
Sometimes on location crew and cast have to be ferried back and forth by mini vans if the set is up a huge hill or down a cliff where the trucks cannot get access.
The most amount of travel that cast and crew have had to do for a series was on the Adventures of the Swiss Family Robinson and Return to Treasure Island.
Desert Island Dreams
Both series were filmed partly on location in Fiji. The art department had to go out first to build some of the sets like the treehouse as well as to make sure that the island was clear and ready for the arrival of the rest of the team.
The production manager had to ride out on a goods container ship with all of the equipment and costumes whilst the rest of the cast and crew flew from New Zealand to Fiji (about a 4 hour flight).
The team were then picked up at the airport, taken to the docks and loaded onto two small cruise ships. The ships then sailed for 3 hours to a small island in the Yasawa group where filming was to take place.
The cast and crew lived on the ships for 6 weeks and had to get smaller boats from the ship to ferry them onto the island or a sailing ship for filming.
The team worked from Wednesday -Sunday and would sail back to the mainland every Monday morning for 2 days in Nadi where they had time off and the boat crew re-stocked for another week’s filming. Cast and crew would return to the ships to sleep on their days off in Nadi.
Wellington and surrounds
Other semi-long distance travels were for the Enid Blyton Secret Series where the crew had to travel north of Wellington and the cast stayed at a local bed and breakfast.
The Tribe is filmed locally around Wellington and the furthest that the team had to travel was to the countryside sets of Liberty and the Eco camp which were about an hours drive away from the studios.
At the end of filming the cast still come down to Wellington at times to do voice work for the programme or to participate in live web chats or publicity.
And then there are the Tribe tours where a whole load of travelling is done! From New Zealand to Europe, Scandinavia and the USA there are thousands of kilometres covered and many forms of transport used from planes to cars to coaches to horse-drawn sleighs!
The distribution team also travel a lot to make contact with broadcasters all around the world and to sell the programmes at TV festivals and markets.
One day we will have to add up all of the kilometres that have been travelled – we’re sure that the amount would blow us away after 10 years of production!