Neil Gaiman and Douglas Mackinnon, the showrunner and director respectively of Amazon’s Good Omens series, praised the burgeoning Scottish production sector during their masterclass at the Edinburgh TV Festival today.
“You can make one of the biggest TV series in the world and you don’t have to go to London anymore,” said Mackinnon, who is a native of Scottish island Skye. “The moment we came to bring Good Omens [to Scotland], it was really clear to me that we could make it here.”
The first season of the Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett novel adaptation shot in locations including South Africa and England but Amazon announced in June that season two will relocate to Scotland. Amazon has been making something of a home for itself north of the border, having recently wrapped The Rig in Scotland, while it revealed in July that fellow Neil Gaiman adaptation Anansi Boys will also be heading to the country to shoot.
Speculation is rife at present that Amazon’s billion dollar The Lord Of The Rings could also be heading to Scotland after it was announced that the show will vacate its production base in New Zealand.
During the panel, the pair recalled the initial meetings with Amazon about Good Omens season two, during which the streamer said it wanted to greenlight Anansi Boys to shoot concurrently.
“We had to prove we could take them both to Scotland. There were bemused stares down the zoom call from Los Angeles. They went away afterwards trying to work out where Scotland was,” commented Mackinnon. “We have the cream of the crop of local talent. ‘Local’ makes it sound slightly embarrassed. I’m glad that finally we’re bringing these shows here with Neil – it feels like everyone’s ready to make them, there’s no shyness.”
Gaiman recalled how when he first began working with Amazon, it was “like the Wild West”.
“Everything was very haphazard, there was a certain amount of chaos that allowed creativity but also minor disasters,” he continued. “These days Amazon is much more organized, as is Netflix [on Sandman, which Gaiman is making with the streamer]. They have big ambitions, they’re making television they want the entire world to watch. That feels huge to me.”
The showrunner also discussed working with the traditional broadcasters in comparison with the streamers.
“The BBC’s pockets only go as deep as the share of the license fee for that project, these days it’s not necessarily deep enough,” he commented, recalling instances during the shooting of Good Omens season one, which was produced by BBC Studios, when an accountant would “swing in” to set and announce a £1M-plus budget shortfall. “That happened several times during the making of Good Omens,” he explained.
“There are god and bad things about the streamers – just like BBC and ITV – but if you land in a happy patch that’s certainly good for you,” said Mackinnon as he addressed to what extent the online giants oversaw the creative process.
“I can’t think of a moment that anyone on Good Omens has tried to override any decision. They want us to be happy, us being happy is making those decisions,” he continued.
“It’s the same on Netflix,” added Gaiman. “It’s our show, they hired us and they trust us.”
The session was hosted by writer and director Raisah Ahmed.
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