This hot off the presses. Well, off Twitter and email anyway.
A couple of hours ago an announcement went out on Twitter that Netflix has renewed Sense8 for a second series. I am very happy. Doubtless it will be a while before they can get it all filmed, but I shall wait patiently for the new episodes to turn up.
In addition to that, Netflix sent me email to alert me to the fact that a documentary called Sense8: Creating the World was now available to view. Naturally I went straight there.
The show lasts about 25 minutes and is primarily interviews with the cast members at various locations around the world. Much of it is shot on set during production. Lana and Andy do not speak to camera, but JMS does get in at one point.
A lot of the focus is on the technical challenges of filming in nine different cities around the world. There were no stand-in locations. Scenes in Mumbai were shot in Mumbai; scenes in Nairobi were shot in Nairobi and so on. That provided particular challenges for the crew. It also gave the show an opportunity to increase the diversity quotient of the show. Not all of the cast members were native to their character’s native cities (though several were). However, when the show was filming on location they hired local talent to play the supporting cast.
Andy and Lana were not afraid of taking on challenges either. The scenes at San Francisco Pride were shot live during San Francisco Pride. Tuppence Middleton got to DJ live in a Camden nightclub sandwiched between two live bands. The scenes at the Mexican wrestling match were shot live at an actual match. The only thing that defeated them was the Ganesha festival. Some shots of the actual parade were shot from roof cameras, but with over a million people on the streets it just wasn’t possible to shoot in amongst the parade, especially as child actors were involved.
The show also highlighted the way in which many of the “effects” were actually shot live. Many scenes require members of the cluster who are not physically present at a location to move in and out of shot, replacing the local cluster member, or acting alongside them. Most of that was done physically, with the camera changing focus just long enough to allow an actor to duck in or out of the shot. I’m guessing that made the whole thing much more natural for the actors, because they were acting together (contrast that with Sir Ian McKellen’s discomfort at having to act by himself against a green screen during the filming of The Hobbit). It probably also saved time and money on editing, which I guess is important when you are doing TV.
Finally a brief word on the process of creating a series for full on-demand release. Before the advent of things like Netflix TV shows tended to be shot and aired in parallel. The crew would still be working on later episodes while the first few were aired. You can’t do that with direct-to-Netflix. You have to have everything in the can before going live. But, as the video editors explained, that meant you could actually screen the whole thing as a 12-hour movie, then make final edits based on that experience. And they did just that.
My thanks to Lana and Andy for the great news, and for an interesting documentary. I’m assuming that the next thing that will happen is a DVD & Blu Ray release of Season One, and I’m hoping that will include more behind-the-scenes material.