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As the coronavirus continues to impact the entertainment industry and the world at large, there is one television series that is already well-prepared to handle the global pandemic: The Walking Dead.
The current era of the AMC zombie franchise takes place roughly a decade past the point of the inciting viral outbreak, with survivors like Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) well prepared for how to deal with the diseased dead. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that the writing team is similarly prepared for current work-from-home conditions, according to executive producer and showrunner Angela Kang.
“We’re well set up to work remotely,” Kang tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m a tech head. We do video conferences regularly. On a normal basis, I’m very stringent about, ‘If you’re sick, don’t come into the office.’ The other day, I was on the phone and in meetings from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., all day straight. I did Skype, I did FaceTime, I did Zoom, I did remote reviewing of VFX. We are very well set up to work remotely. That’s been fine for us.”
Kang says remote work protocols have long been in place for The Walking Dead team, and current conditions will not impact continuing work in the writers room: “Today, nobody is going to be at the office. The room will continue to run. We’re doing it by conference call and we’re doing it by video conference. Everything will continue to run, but on a remote basis.” With five episodes left to air in season 10, Kang and her writers are already working on breaking story for season 11, which is not yet in production.
“We use Zoom,” she adds. “This is how we conference with Georgia when we’re in production. I like the face-to-face of it. We’ve done this for many years. Even when we’re not in a pandemic, any time anyone is sick, they just call into the room and it’s not a big deal. We’re very used to doing this.”
While the series is not currently in production, there are Walking Dead crewmembers actively on the ground in Georgia at the moment. “There are a handful of people, such as the line producer and the production designer, who are on set,” says Kang. “The line producer and I are in daily contact about everything as it unfolds right now. We’re in daily contact with AMC. Luckily, everyone’s working up the plan. We don’t have a crew that’s shooting right now. In that way, we are not currently impacted.”
The operative word, of course, is “currently,” as the situation remains under constant observation. Says Kang: “It sounds like our room won’t shut down. Like I said, we are able to work remotely. We can keep plugging along on scripts. In terms of the production, it’s all conversations that AMC is having and it’s all being worked up behind the scenes, as I’m sure is happening everywhere else.”
“What’s interesting is because of the particular storyline we’re working on for season 11, we’ve planned out a whole other thing with some real western and thriller elements to it,” she says, weighing in on writing about a post-pandemic fictional world in the midst of a very real global pandemic. “In some ways, we’ve been writing this show in this world for a decade. It’s based on source material. In some ways, it’s sideways from the beginning of an outbreak. All of us are thinking a lot about our own families and people out in the world who are struggling with this. All of us working on a show like this, there’s a part of us who are very pro-preparedness for anything going wrong. The thing a lot of us are thinking about is it’s good how people are really aware right now of how important public health is, and how it can really cause problems. We don’t want to see anyone turning against each other in times like these. Hopefully everyone can come together. Those are the big themes of our show.”
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