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THE GREAT’S
SUMPTUOUS
SATIRE RENEWED
FOR THIRD SEASON

Sprawling Shoot Depends on PIX for Smooth, Secure Communications.

PUBLISHED

MARCH 02 2022


In early 2022, Hulu announced that season three of The Great is a go. The tongue-in-cheek writing and satiric characters originally sprang from the pen of playwright Tony McNamara, who wrote in a snappy, contemporary tone in spite of the formal 18th Century setting – the Russian court of Tsar Peter III and Catherine the Great. 

Executive producer Marian Macgowan is a key member of the team that brought the project to Hulu. Originally from Australia, she attended Cambridge – where she made “some very bad films,” she says with a laugh – and started out at a commercial production house. There, she did a little of everything, from threading the projector to editing film. The range of tasks was good training for a future producer. Eventually she founded Macgowan Films, an independent Australian production company that develops, finances, and produces feature films, television shows, and documentaries. Credits include Lilian’s Story, Gregor Jordan’s Two Hands, South Solitary and Death Defying Acts.


Elle Fanning and John Brawley, ACS on-set

Macgowan says that The Great was initially envisioned as a feature project and endured several false starts. 

“Resolving the third act of the story had always eluded us, and Tony has so much experience in that area,” says Macgowan. “Turning it into a television series suddenly liberated us, and we felt able to tell the story with the kind of scale and breadth and time that we needed. It’s impossible not to stay with Elle Fanning and Nick Hoult – their performances are irresistible.”

"PIX IS A KEY ELEMENT IN MAKING THE COMPLEX PRODUCTION WORK SMOOTHLY"

The pilot turned heads, earning director of photography Anette Haelmigk an ASC Award nomination for her cinematography, done mostly on palatial locations in the United Kingdom. The first season also produced two Emmy nominations, one each for writing and directing.



Once the series was up and running, the production became more spread around the globe. Locations were sometimes on separate continents, as were the provisional home set-ups of the editing team. Home base was 3 Mills Studios in central London. 

Macgowan says that the visual storytelling is quite simple and very focused on performance, character and actors, often employing three or four cameras, which generates a lot of footage. While McNamara runs the writers’ room and is more often on set, Macgowan’s attention is often focused on editing. But all responsibilities, prep through post, are shared to some degree. Needless to say, the onset of the pandemic did not make communication and coordination any easier. 

PIX is a key element in making the complex production work smoothly, Macgowan says. The platform offers secure access and collaborative capability to production content of any description, including imagery as it comes off the cameras. If the trick is to blend all the disparate ingredients – costumes, production design, dialog, blocking, cutting, cinematography, and more – to deliver the perfect tone, communication is obviously crucial to making it work.


Elle Fanning and John Brawley, ACS on-set

“We leaned on PIX enormously just in order to communicate to people and to keep everyone’s cuts in,” she says. “Obviously, editing long-distance is just not conducive to the best sort of creativity, really, because there are so many layers between you and the work and the editor and the other contributors. But PIX was very much part of that communication – how we stayed in touch, and made sure everyone stored everything properly. Everyone was across everything. It wasn’t just rushes, although the ability to see rushes anywhere, at any time, is a huge advantage. It was much more the exchange of concepts – ‘Here’s a scene. Here’s a crop. Here’s an idea. What do you think?’ That was critical to us.”

In the second season, one particular episode was changed quite dramatically from the original script. “Being able to send that sequence out was very valuable to us, a much quicker way of resolving an important decision,” she says. “In season two, we moved our story around more to work most effectively. It was very helpful to have the ability to say, ‘What if we took this sequence and put I over here?” and then send that little cut out and ask people what they thought. It’s great when you need opinions about when we can get in or out of a certain scene, or if adding or subtracting an element or a shot makes sense.”

"WE LEANED ON PIX ENORMOUSLY JUST IN ORDER TO COMMUNICATE TO PEOPLE AND TO KEEP EVERYONE’S CUTS IN"

Handling cinematography duties on the first two seasons were Maja Zamojda and John Brawley. “We’ve had a great crew,” says Macgowan. “The thing that I find beautiful about their work so often is the way in which they can see our world slightly differently, but with greater detail or at different depth. Each cinematographer seems to have a lovely, unique way of letting the audience see that scene and those characters in that world. We do emphasize the actors, but it’s not just about the closeup. It’s not just about classic comedy cutting. It’s literally how the characters fit into that world, and allowing the detail of that design to be present for an audience. That’s a great job.”

Season two of The Great earned three Golden Globe nominations, including Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy and nods for Fanning and Hoult. Production on the ten episodes of Season 3 of The Great is set to begin May 30, 2022.








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THE GREAT’S SUMPTUOUS SATIRE RENEWED FOR THIRD SEASON
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