‘Morning Present’s’ Michael Ellenberg on Adapting in Age of COVID-19, SVOD


When the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Hollywood earlier this yr, shutting down productions and throwing the {industry} into chaos, not even veteran TV government Michael Ellenberg, the previous HBO head of drama liable for commissioning iconic sequence corresponding to “Westworld,” “Large Little Lies,” “True Detective,” and “The Leftovers,” might have predicted such a strong, industry-wide name to arms.

“In case you had informed me immediately that Hollywood would have an unlimited sequence of testing protocols for all these productions and the White Home wouldn’t? It speaks for itself,” Ellenberg mentioned throughout a keynote handle at Rome’s MIA market on Thursday.

However the founder and CEO of the manufacturing outfit Media Res, which this week resumed manufacturing on the Apple TV Plus sequence “The Morning Show,” famous that the movie and tv {industry} at its core is “a problem-solving enterprise” uniquely outfitted to deal with a disaster.

“There’s a logistical genius in Hollywood that’s pretty unparalleled in some other {industry},” he mentioned. “Slowly however certainly, in tackling [issues] the best way producers all the time do, you go piece by piece by piece. You take a look at each dimension of it. You regulate and tinker. Sq. pegs in spherical holes. Hollywood is best than most fields at fixing it.”

Ellenberg was talking on the primary day again in his firm’s L.A. places of work for the reason that begin of the pandemic, with cameras set to roll on season two of the Apple sequence starring Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell.

The present’s government producer mentioned the artistic crew has “had to answer the second, and all of the methods through which the world has modified up to now six months,” whereas crafting the second season’s story arc. The nuts and bolts of manufacturing have additionally been radically remodeled. “It filters via the whole lot from areas to stage work to how many individuals are on the set. It has a VFX impact. There’s nearly no facet of manufacturing that’s not coloured by this.”

Whereas the months-long hiatus brought on by coronavirus launched a singular set of challenges for the manufacturing, Ellenberg famous that adaptability is constructed into the character of the tv {industry} immediately.

“Previously, tv was extra, ‘This works, we now know what the components is. So let’s try this,’” he mentioned. “And I believe what’s thrilling about trendy tv, however tougher additionally, is when you perceive the components…you’ve received to be very rigorous about breaking the components a bit bit and reinventing it yearly to maintain a sequence important.

“It’s received to be contemporary and new yearly,” he added. “Even with the sort of forged now we have and the expertise now we have, there’s plenty of competitors for individuals’s consideration. And audiences are demanding innovation, whether or not it’s the pilot or episode 205.”

When Ellenberg landed at HBO in 2011, he mentioned, “you had been seeing the start of this expertise migration” because the movie and tv {industry} started to endure a seismic shift.

“I didn’t go along with a grasp plan. I figured I might do it for a few years, after which once I went again to movie, I might know one thing about TV,” he mentioned. “After which the entire world modified. Movie and TV, actually what’s been taking place, they’re merging. That’s what’s been taking place, and doubtless this pandemic interval is accelerating that.”

Media Res is presently growing “Scenes From a Marriage,” a restricted sequence adaptation of the Ingmar Bergman basic movie, for HBO, although Ellenberg mentioned that worldwide co-productions could be an even bigger a part of the corporate’s focus transferring ahead.

“Once we launched, I anticipated we’d be doing plenty of them. After which the explosion of streaming right here has modified among the want for co-productions,” he mentioned. “I believe there are fewer co-financing alternatives out there, not less than on the premium scale, than there have been earlier than. And there could also be much less want for it. As a result of the reality is, the streamers have had plenty of money up till this level. We’ll see if it modifications on this financial local weather.”

Ellenberg mentioned he was impressed by the “progressive” co-production mannequin for Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Younger Pope,” an formidable three way partnership between HBO, Sky and Canal Plus. “I believe what’s key [with co-productions] is knowing what you’re in search of,” he mentioned. “Apart from determining the foundations of the street, it’s actually moving into clear-eyed about what the necessity is from the associate, after which designing the connection round that. The cliché, artistic alignment—that’s important.”

So is the necessity for “actually distinctive materials [that] strikes the market,” he mentioned, including: “That’s type of the monetary mannequin. And the artistic, extra non secular mannequin, is you possibly can create a secure haven for artists, for creators, to incubate actually unique work…that’s a manner for actually unique tales to be informed, and unique voices to be heralded.”

He continued: “The tradition {industry} is far more drawn to provocative, cutting-edge materials, from voices that usually, up to now, would by no means obtain the sort of monetary backing that the {industry} will give them now. That’s thrilling. There’s a enterprise mannequin round originality. That’s the actual fact. That’s the deep factor taking place.”

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