Taboo at The Media Production Show

MPS 2017Day Two (14 June) of The Media Production Show proved to be as varied and wide-ranging as the first. 

One of the morning sessions featured production designer Sonja Klaus and VFX expert Henry Badgett of BlueBolt Ltd who worked together on dark period drama Taboo, which stars Tom Hardy as the mysterious James Delaney. 

The duo discussed the level of collaboration involved in the hefty production and the constraints of working within budget. 

“It was hard sometimes in the early meetings to work out what was in everyone’s head,” said Badgett, as Klaus noted that she had come on board a full two-and-a-half years before pre-production started. 

A regular collaborator of Ridley Scott (who exec–produced the show), Klaus explained how she demonstrated the vision to her colleagues of what she wanted to achieve. 

“I didn’t use a computer – I used a pencil. I wanted to literally draw out James Delaney’s journey around London – the geography of where everything is, the Thames, and get an idea of how long it would take him to move around.”

Badgett agreed that this was hugely useful to the VFX team. “One of Taboo’s strengths as a show is the free-roaming and outdoorsy detail - we could build Delaney quite a large world.”

Although apparently when Scott saw the size of St Paul’s Cathedral added into the background, he said it needed to be much, much bigger.

Overall, around 30 people from BlueBolt worked on Taboo from start to finish, while Klaus had a team of about ten in the art department. The budget was a limitation – at £22m it meant that resourcefulness had to play a key role. 

Boats were a big part of Taboo, but limited funds saw Klaus securing one that had been used in Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword for just £5,000. It was nothing like the boat the Taboo team needed – it was completely the wrong period – but the BlueBolt team worked hard to make it fit Klaus’ vision, including the use of green screen.

Also under discussion were the challenges faced during production. Badgett found it hard to find many negatives, but said that the budget and sheer number of individual locations were probably the biggest obstacles. 

For Klaus it was more tangible: “Budget - yes, definitely. And Tilbury [docks] was very hard, from a build point of view. The roofs blew off twice in high winds and a lot of people worked hard at night to save the set.” 

The BBC and FX commissioned a second series of Taboo in March after the initial run proved a big hit on BBC iPlayer, reaching a consolidated series average audience of 5.8 million within seven days.

 



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