EXCLUSIVE: From writers rooms to board meetings and Friday night cocktail hours, the world of virtual meetings has boomed during the coronavirus lockdown. Here’s one that might be an industry first – last night the cast and crew of Sky’s upcoming series Gangs Of London got together to toast the show ahead of TX on April 23.
A total of 261 people showed up for the private screening and Zoom party, organized by producers Pulse Films, many wearing tuxes and gowns and drinking champagne to celebrate the occasion. Those on the line included creator Gareth Evans, directors Corin Hardy and Xavier Gens, stars Joe Cole, Sope Dirisu, and Lucian Msamati, and HBO’s SVP Films Bob Conte.
After speeches from Pulse’s Thomas Benski and Lucas Ochoa, lead writer Claire Wilson, director Hardy and HBO’s Conte, a communal viewing of the crime series’ second episode took place via private video link, followed by a virtual party. The event also raised money for charity (see below).
Hardy, who directed four eps including the one screened yesterday, told Deadline that it was only a handful of weeks ago that invites were sent out for the cast and crew premiere of the show, which would’ve taken place at a central London cinema. After the UK’s lockdown and shuttering of all theaters made any kind of physical gathering impossible, the team had to re-plan.
“For a while I suppose I felt lucky to at least have finished the show in the nick of time, and duly accepted that we wouldn’t be able to mark the completion of all the incredible cast and crew group effort with some kind of celebration,” said Hardy. “And then Pulse Films producer Thomas Benski had an idea at the end of last week, to put on an (the first?) online ‘watch-a-long’ style screening, giving everyone involved the opportunity to witness the fruits of their labor ‘together’. It was surreal, it was joyous and it was unique to the times we are all in.”
“It was crucial for me that we felt connected in this moment, to mark the release of a show that we all worked so hard on and to raise money for those most affected in our industry,” said Benski, revealing that the company has decided to donate a tenner to the UK’s Film and TV COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, which is benefiting industry freelancers whose livelihoods are being disrupted by the pandemic, on behalf of each attendee, equating to $3,200 (£2,610).
“As the numbers crept up to 200-strong cast and crew with people wearing tuxes, holding props, sporting wigs and raising glasses it felt very emotional,” Wilson told us. “In some ways it was better than a piss up in a venue because you actually got to see the faces of all the people who make a mammoth TV show like this possible.”
“We had people in different countries, different environments, there were kids running around, but it felt very honest and very human which was the whole point. It was also really funny to see how strangely familiar it felt to a “real” premiere as we all shared anecdotes – it was really reminiscent of the bond we created during the making of our show,” added Benski.
Gangs Of London, also produced by UK outfit Sister, chronicles warring crime families in the English capital. The show rolls out all nine episodes on Sky Atlantic on April 23 in UK, and will debut on HBO Cinemax in the U.S. later in the year.
With large-scale gatherings unlikely to be allowed any time soon, the biz continues to invent new ways to keep things moving.