Netflix’sThe Last Bus broke green screen boundaries
Supported by Bristol Film Office, the 10-part drama began production in August 2020 and filmed for 19 weeks, with locations including Redcliffe Caves and The Downs.
Further afield, filming took place at other South West locations including Cheddar Gorge, Brean Leisure Park and Wookey Hole in Somerset and the Eden Project in Cornwall.
Production company Wildseed Studios harnessed LED technology to enhance the possibilities offered by the Bottle Yard’s 5,000 sq ft green screen, adding in bespoke hydraulic systems on set that broke new ground in what could be achieved in the studio without the need for digital effects.
Producer Andy Mosse explained: “Filming on location is expensive so we had to find a way of getting the bus scenes filmed in the studio at The Bottle Yard. Traditionally this is done with a green screen, but we developed a way to use LED screens as a full 360 degree wrap around the bus so that we could shoot in any direction with any backdrop, which hadn’t been done before.
“The panoramic 360 images we projected were captured with 12 x 4K cameras built on a bespoke rigged car we called the ‘hotdog’. Combine this with some hydraulic Wallace and Gromit type levers plugged into the suspension of the bus, you’ve got a moving bus interior that bumps and weaves with the road and can be shot in camera with no digital effects needed.”
Wildseed’s managing director, Miles Bullough, added: "Bristol is Wildseed's home and it was important for us from the outset that The Last Bus should be made here in the city. The Bottle Yard was our ideal facility, with its vast green screen and adaptable spaces. At one point we had 5 double deckers parked up together inside; an impressive sight, not to mention a parking feat!
"The Studios gave us space and freedom to push the boundaries of what we could do on the green screen using LED, which was a real gamechanger. Plus their onsite college students studying Film & TV with boomsatsuma got to see those sets and learn about the shoot which is so important for new talent coming up. The Film Office made it easy to film at Redcliffe Caves and The Downs, awesome locations right here on our doorstep, and we found all the other locations we needed nearby in the South West."
The Last Bus follows a group of mismatched students on a school trip who become unlikely heroes when a robot apocalypse zaps away the rest of humanity. It is created and written by Paul Neafcy, who was spotted by Wildseed making mobile phone films on YouTube from his bedroom.
This is the third series Wildseed has worked on with Neafcy, following the success of Philip Human and PrankMe for a US-based SVoD service. Alongside experienced directors Lawrence Gough and Steve Hughes, the series features emerging directors Drew Casson and Nour Wazzi.
All images via Wildseed/Netflix.
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