Bryan posted this update on ig, confirming what we’ve always known: there was NEVER a season 4 of ATLA considered.
Don’t make me tap the sign. ⬇️
This also more-or-less confirms that right now the plan for the live-action series is to stop at the same place as the animated series: Sozin’s Comet and the immediate aftermath. But obviously who knows what that will look like when they get there.
He also teases another animated series veeeery vaguely, saying “if and when” they make one, etc etc. “If” means nothing is confirmed or planned in any way right now, but following it up with “when” does seem a bit optimistic at least! I still think it’s an inevitability as the franchise grows.
’wtFOCKDOWN: the first Flemish quarantine fiction has arrived’
Translated interview about the behind-the-scenes of wtFOCKDOWN
- Source: Knack Focus (16/04)
Scenes in FaceTime, dialogues in WhatsApp and a director who gives directions in Google Hangouts: the youth series wtFOCKDOWN is the first Flemish fiction series in lockdown mode.
The candidates of ‘Blokken’ play from home, soaps 'Familie’ and 'Thuis’ get an early season ending, 'Dagelijkse Kost’ has a director at distance, 'Topdokters’ sends out corona diaries, 'De Ideale Wereld’ does telework. Just about the entire TV world has had to adapt to the new reality in recent weeks and find creative solutions. Usually with the help of FaceTime. Or Skype. Or Google Hangouts.
There is a striking amount of video out there.
However, no Flemish series had to go as far as wtFOCK. The youth phenomenon - in good weeks 450,000 unique visitors go to wtfock.be - always strongly focused on real time and the current living environment of young people. If a character experiences something during the lunch break at school, the video goes online in the afternoon on a school day. For example, if the elections are coming or GOT has its last episode, the characters will refer to it.
Which also means that when the schools suddenly closed indefinitely, all plans for the upcoming fourth season couldn’t go through. If all your viewers are home, it makes no sense that the characters still go to school. wtFOCK’s solution: the first 'social-distancing drama’ in the world, as production house Sputnik, which makes the tv series for SBS and Telenet, calls it. Fiction that not only takes place in quarantine, but is also turned into quarantine. On April 1st, the first video went online, a video conversation between characters Senne and Zoë. Since then, the experiment seems to get more interesting every day.
wtFOCKDOWN is the most far-reaching TV answer to the lockdown yet. How did you come up with a 'social-distancing drama’?
Rutger Beckers (producer at Sputnik TV): As soon as the government closed schools, we knew we had to throw all our plans overboard. It was clear that this wasn’t just for two weeks: the lockdown would take much longer. Quickly, we started thinking about a plan B within the team, a very young team, and there were some very long video calls. The term 'social-distancing drama’ had fallen quite often. Everyone is in the same situation, everyone runs up the walls. Especially young people. In one weekend, their reality has completely changed and their lives take place between four walls. It seemed interesting to adapt the fiction to that new reality. Plus, we hope it can also be a support or refuge. Everyone is in the same boat: that kind of feeling.
We then put together a small team to see what was possible. A few practice scenes have been written. We tested things with the actors. What works? What not? After a few tries, everyone was very enthusiastic. They were also immediately involved with Telenet and SBS. This was much more than a little plaything or filling a gap in the schedule. It soon became clear that, with the right storylines, this was something fundamentally new. Something no one had ever done before us.
The lockdown was announced on March 16th, on April 1st the first video of wtFockdown went online: that is impressive.
Beckers: Especially in the world of fiction. It helps that we were already very tight regarding film schedules of wtFOCK. The recordings are made four or five weeks before the broadcast, which is short for fiction. Even on set, we continued to adapt storylines to current events.
With wtFOCKDOWN, we can plan everything even closer. The circumstances compel us to do so. Nobody can get together - we are very strict about that. So no locations have to be sought, no extras have to be collected or soundcrew have to be booked. We also have to make it with a very small team. wtFOCKDOWN is shot with the actors, a director and someone who does social media. Everyone is also at home and is available. What makes that you can switch very easily. Simply put: tonight we will decide what things we have written today, will be played out tomorrow.
The videos all start from the home screen of the characters’ laptops and cell phones. The story is told in WhatsApp conversations, video calls and video messages. A kind of found footage, but in real time. That is cleverly done.
Beckers: Because it also makes sense: for most young people, the screen of their laptop or smartphone is their only view of the outside world these days. Then it makes sense that you tell the story like that.
Moreover, it is the technology that we really use to create the series. The actors act in their own room with their own laptops and mobile phones. First, we rehearse in a video call, while the director watches. When a scene is right, the actors video call each other and record the scene. It also doesn’t matter if the quality of image or sound is a little less: that just increases the authenticity.
wtFOCKDOWN has been running for two weeks now, but as an experiment in mobile television it is interesting to say the least. Real-time WhatsApp conversations set to music, where you see the letters typed, for example, turn out to provide good scenes.
Beckers: That is also something that we ourselves are happy with: that these storytelling techniques work. wtFOCKDOWN was a leap of faith. There were no examples, no anchor points. When we put the first videos online, we had no idea what the response would be. But you feel that our enthusiasm after those first tests, is now also the same as the viewer.
That is also exciting as series makers. It started with a few tests. Then a few videos that came online. Then we started building bigger storylines. And it just keeps getting bigger. Every day we are faced with new surprises and new problems to solve. But that feeling that we are creating something new, something that can be valuable in the situation that young people are living in today, only increases enthusiasm. Especially with the people of eighteen or nineteen years old in our team: you feel that they now want to go for it. Maybe this could be the start of a new kind of genre. Real-time fiction, played decentralized. Who knows.
You’re sure no one has ever done this before you?
Beckers: I certainly haven’t come across anything. We also noticed that countries abroad have been interested in the concept. In the meantime, we’re in contact with the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, who made Skam (wtFOCK is one of the many remakes of Skam internationally). They were very intrigued by our plans and went to show it to Spain, Germany, Italy and France, where local versions of Skam are also running.
While wtFOCKDOWN explores new horizons, a large part of the Flemish television world seems to be on hold. 'Familie’ and 'Thuis’ must finish their season early. It is unclear what will happen for programs such as 'Mijn keuken, mijn restaurant’ and 'The Voice Kids’.
Beckers: Today the situation is very strange for the TV world, especially with the commercial channels. The ratings are going up. Much more TV is watched than in recent years. Only: there are far fewer advertisers.
It is indeed striking that programs such as 'De Mol’ hardly have any commercial breaks.
Beckers: Many brands do not want to advertise now and have postponed their budgets until after the summer. Which will soon cause another strange situation. Autumn normally gets very busy, but hardly any production houses are making programs right now. Almost all productions have been shut down. Running a normal fiction series is simply impossible today.
Will we get a lockdown version of the soap 'Familie’ soon?
Beckers: I think that chance is slim. (laughs). With wtFOCK, the new technology is just a bit more in the DNA of the program.
The main thing is that no one currently knows. Everyone is waiting for the situation to normalize and to get up again. It only starts again, when there is insight into the matter.
You are in a precarious situation with wtFOCK, I just realized.
When the government announces that schools remain closed, doesn’t it mean that all the plans and footage from the fourth season will be thrown away?
Beckers: That’s also the disadvantage of the time limited fiction: the time. All of the references to the end of the school year, or festivals, will be tossed. These caught up with the reality. But we’ll see how we are going to get around that. We don’t have anything meaningful to say about the future. If I have learned one more thing about the past few weeks, it’s that you constantly need to adapt to the new realities and to find new solutions. So it’s not just about the wtFOCK.