For the past few months (July 2019), Tim Clague and I have been busy making Dog Years, our new live-action children's TV show, in our very own studio - thanks to our amazing producer Jan Caston. We've been part of studio-based productions before but we've never built our own studio from scratch. So how did we do it?
FIND A WAREHOUSE
We're based in Bournemouth in Dorset so we didn't want to travel far from home for our new studio base. We started researching two options: an empty building that could be repurposed for our needs, and vacant warehouses. The warehouse option emerged as the most suitable and affordable, so we found one that was available, neatly tucked away at the back of an industrial estate in Poole.
Once we agreed the warehouse lease, we put our studio plans into action. This meant making sure that our purpose-built set would work to scale in our new premises, and that all our technical requirements could be met. On our mezzanine floor, we divided it up into four zones: costume rail/changing, camera department, props area, and a gallery section. We've also got a production office right by the entrance, and a big loading/delivery door area.
BUILDING THE SET
In collaboration with our production designer (Becky Cutts), director of photography (Radi Nikolov), line producer (Steve McCarten) and set builder (Handy Andy Stewart), we were able to build the key foundations of our studio: the floors & walls, a bespoke lighting rig (thanks to the genius of gaffer Simon Battensby), and then all the necessary furnishings for the set. It all started to take shape!
READY FOR FILMING
Within a couple of months of moving in, we were ready to rock and roll, thanks to the herculean efforts of our core studio team (Becky, Steve, Radi and Handy Andy). We were tweaking and finalising right up to the day we started filming but we had everything in place, and we were ready to shoot. All we needed was our cast, and of course our star dog!
We filmed 10 episodes over the course of five weekends, with a rehearsal day on Monday, which worked out well for the specific needs of our budget and schedule. Our plan now is to make more episodes of Dog Years, and utilise our new studio space as much as possible for new and exciting projects. Stay tuned!!