If any show should be prepared to resume filming during a global pandemic, it is a show about a global pandemic. The Walking Dead, which was originally scheduled to begin shooting back in May for season 11, will finally be reopening its set this month. Not only did COVID-19 completely wreak havoc on the show’s filming schedule, but it shifted a lot for the airing schedule as well. Instead of season 11 airing this fall, it will now presumably begin in the fall of 2021. So when TWD goes back into production in October, it will be for six new bonus season 10 episodes to air in the spring, which will follow the originally planned season 10 finale, which will screen Oct. 4 on AMC. (Confused yet?)
But what will production itself on The Walking Dead even look like with a real-life virus still raging in Georgia, where the show films? What sorts of precautions are being put in place to get everyone working again? We spoke to showrunner Angela Kang to find out how things are progressing in terms of bringing the show back, and she informed us that ″We’re actively in pre-production, so we’re going to start shooting pretty soon, if all goes well. And so far so good!″
With some businesses having to shut back down after starting up too soon without proper precautions in place, that’s good news. And Kang confirms that many precautions are indeed being put in place. ″There are so many new rules and regulations just to keep everybody as safe as humanly possible,″ says the showrunner. ″And I think it’s a good thing. Every production now will have some kind of a health and safety supervisor.”
For their health and safety supervisor, AMC went to the military. ″Our guy is a former Army medic named Carl, who is an infectious diseases specialist,″ notes Kang. ″He’s amazing.″ And the operation only starts there, as plans have put in place for rapid testing and making sure social distancing is implemented off camera. ″We’ve got our own mobile lab to process tests so that there’s no delay in test processing,″ Kang reveals. ″The hygiene standards are totally different. Actors, there’s no more shared makeup trailer. They would all be there and singing karaoke and stuff, but you just can’t do that. So they’ve got their own little pods, but there’s windows so that they can still see each other.″
Because there is always a lot of motion on a set, Kang also notes how cast and crew will be protected while on the move: ″There’s distancing requirements, everybody’s going to be in regulation masks that are the kind that epidemiologists have said are the safest, they’ll have face shields on. There’s specific pathways that actors will be taken down so that there’s not a lot of contact between groups.″
While the new system will surely take some getting used to, Kang is cautiously optimistic that with certain rules in place, that their show about a zombie virus can survive a coronavirus. ″Everything’s being driven by, first of all, we’ve got an amazing epidemiologist consulting for the studio and for the show,″ says Kang. ″All the unions got together, and they also consulted with other epidemiologists. And so we’re following all of those rules, plus more. We’ve had construction running for a little while and so far, so good. They’ve been testing people regularly, it’s going well, no positive tests. That’s what we hope to see going forward, as everybody just plays by the rules, looks out for each other. It should hopefully be a very safe environment for everybody to get back to work, which I know people are excited to do.”
No doubt fans of the show are excited for them to get back to work as well. And hopefully they can stay there.
For more Walking Dead intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.