ITV’s recent evening drama series, Isolation Stories, broke new ground. It consisted of four short films all made and transmitted during the Coronavirus crisis, under the constraints of social distancing. Remarkably, no one from the crew had any contact with the cast.
The series was a quartet of 15-minute dramas that complied with government instructions on distancing.
The production company delivered sanitised filming equipment to the actors at home, who were then instructed by phone on how to use it. Family members were persuaded to act as extras or as technical support to the productions. Among the stars were a heavily pregnant Sheridan Smith, Eddie Marsan, David Threlfall, Philip Jackson and Robert Glenister, pictured above carrying several kilos of film equipment into his home.
The techniques used were so new and innovative that a fifth programme, a behind the scenes documentary, explained how the films were made.
Jeff and David were asked at short notice if they could provide the soundtrack for the documentary. Says Jeff: “The timescale was challenging: just 48 hours from seeing the rushes to sending over the finished music. But David and I have worked remotely (at a distance of about 4,000 miles) as a team for the last ten years. So the production of the music presented no additional issues for us.”
Says David: “The challenge was to produce music that complemented a drama that mixed an almost apocalyptic narrative, similar to 28 Days Later, with black humour. We took the decision not to closely mirror the action on screen with the soundtrack. In any event, the tight deadline meant that we had to write and record the music before the picture was locked.”
The soundtrack was delivered and approved on May 5 (one day early), and the show aired nationally in the UK on ITV on May 7.
The drama series and the documentary are all well worth watching. The drama series is available on the ITV Hub here (https://www.itv.com/hub/isolation-stories/10a0115): and the documentary can be viewed online here (https://www.itv.com/presscentre/ep1week19/isolation-stories-behind-scenes).