Lessons Learned from 'Transporters' Flameout
Attempting a show as ambitious as 2011's buzzy MIP title? Heed these rules to avoid your own "extended hiatus."
1. Studios are making fewer action dramas for a reason: Shooting edge-of-your-seat TV is expensive. It's one thing to deliver 90 minutes of action in a feature; it's another to pump out the car chases and gun battles needed to satisfy fans over the course of an entire season.
2. If your series is set in Europe, don't shoot in Toronto: Transporter's producers spent only four weeks shooting in Paris, Berlin and Nice before moving to Toronto. The credits and subsidies are substantial there, but so too are the logistics and camera units needed to pull off a convincing action series. Clearly, more time was needed to work out the kinks.
3. Shoot a pilot: Instead of testing its complex production model -- which included two North American and two European broadcasters -- with a backdoor pilot, Transporter's producers went straight to series thinking they'd worked out all the kinks in development.
4. Have a brain trust in place before your shoot: Transporter had no studio veterans on board before shooting; instead, it had Canada's QVF Inc. and French co-producer/co-financer Atlantique Productions -- neither of which had tackled high-end action before.
5. Shoot on soundstages: Transporter ditched the traditional TV studio model for a road show, with the main character in a car for nearly every scene. Location shooting is costly and unpredictable. Keep it simple and stay indoors.