Magazine article Variety

Overseas Shoots Help Shows Find Lavish Looks

Magazine article Variety

Overseas Shoots Help Shows Find Lavish Looks

Article excerpt

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"IT USED TO BE ACCEPTED WISDOM that you couldn't set an American show anywhere outside America, because people wouldn't care," says Evan Katz, who. with fellow producer Manny Coto took Fox's quintessentially modem American series - "24" - to London for its ninth season. 'This show, and others, has proved that wrong."

Of all of the benefits that the so-called new Golden Age of television have brought viewers, perhaps the most apparent is that many of today's shows are sumptuous feasts for the eyeballs. Ireland, Spain, Malta, Iceland, Croatia, South Africa - the world is a scenic oyster for productions that take advantage of tax incentives, welltrained overseas crews, fresh-faced cast members and, of course, epic landscapes.

But does being "epic" actually confer any benefits for a series, particularly in Emmy season?

Perhaps, but not in the most obvious way. "Shows like (HBO's) 'Game of Thrones' have raised the bar in terms of what they bring to television," says "Dig" co-creator Tim Kring, whose USA Network show shot its pilot in Jerusalem and, due to political tensions, relocated to Croatia. "You used to be able to get away with a lot less authentic detail than you do nowadays"

"Thrones." which has two Emmys for art direction, is the show most frequently mentioned by producers and showrunners when they discuss smallscreen use of exotic scenery (The show has doubled Ireland, Croatia and Spain, among other countries, for its expansive fantasy world.) But even "Thrones" has challenges pinning down locales, says Bruce Richmond, exec VP of production: "Finding a location that can service all the worlds with unfettered geography can prove quite challenging."

Selecting the right location is crucial because once a show has parked itself in a particular place it can be hard to move around for budgetary reasons. Showtime's "Homeland" is shooting its fourth season in Berlin, for Berlin, but opted to transform South Africa into both Pakistan and the United States.

"We used smoke a lot to create the texture in the air and get that quality of light (for Pakistan)," says exec producer/director Lesli Linka Glatter. "We used a lot of longer lenses that compressed the space. But shooting America was incredibly challenging - electrical outlets are very big and high up on the wall in South Africa Things you'd never think of are incredibly different."

But those challenges must be met, say producers, now that that bar is higher: "These days, audiences fully expect movie production values," says Gareth Neame, exec producer of Masterpiece's "Downton Abbey." which films a third of its show at Highclere Castle in the U. …

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