Sky Studios

The rise of virtual production

Wall and ceiling-mounted LED screens provide a virtual forest (Credit: ARRI)

Technologies have always been central to the evolution of the programme­ making process, but we have a revolution on our hands with the advent of virtual production.

Virtual production is the ability to augment TV and film sets with walls of LED displays that show a virtual location, whether that’s faraway planets (used in The Mandalorian) or the tennis courts of Wimbledon 2021 (apparently overlooked by the BBC’s virtual studio).

Refining Sky’s winning strategy

It is just over two years since Comcast bought Sky for a massive £30.6bn, but it is only now that the company has appointed one of its own senior executives to run the European pay-TV giant. Last month, the dynamic Dana Strong, head of Comcast Cable’s consumer services business, was announced as the successor to Jeremy Darroch, who led Sky for 13 years and was chief financial officer before that.

Sky Studios' Gary Davey on why story trumps talent at the RTS Digital Convention 2020

He said he would not emulate Netflix and Amazon who had respectively agreed exclusive contracts with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.   

“The idea of having a talent deal is dangerous,” said Davey, who singled out Sky’s I Hate Suzie, HBO's The Undoing and Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit as among his favourite current shows.  

“What matters first is the story and then finding the right people - whether it’s the writers, producers, directors, cinematographers. 

New Wirecard scandal documentary heads to Sky

German filmmaker Gabriela Sperl is developing the film alongside producer SFFP, which tracks the rise and fall of the financial payments firm Wirecard.

Once regarded as the posterchild for German tech innovation, the firm collapsed in June 2020 after it was revealed that €1.9 billion was missing from its accounts.

The documentary spells out the international web of lies, cover ups and money laundering that led to the swindle.

Sperl has exclusive access to those closest to the scandal, including several informants.

First look at new Sky comedy starring Maisie Williams

Kim Stokes (Maisie Williams) in Two Weeks to Live (Credit: Sky/Nick Wall)

The drama follows strange young misfit Kim (Williams), who was just a child when her father passed away in mysterious circumstances.

Following the tragedy, Kim was whisked off to a secluded setting by her mother Tina (Sian Clifford) and raised with a bizarre set of survival skills.

Now an adult, Kim journeys out into the real world to fulfil a secret mission to honour her father’s memory.

Jeremy Darroch on Sky's global potential after joining Comcast

Jeremy Darroch (Credit: RTS/Richard Kendal)

What a difference two years makes. In 2017, Sky was one of the crown jewels of the vast Murdoch media empire, beloved by investors and publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange. Spool forward to 2019 and Sky is part of Comcast, the US cable conglomerate, which successfully outbid Disney to buy Europe’s biggest pay-TV provider for a staggering $39bn.

Sky commissions series two of Brassic

Brassic cast (Credit: Sky)

Brassic, co-created by Joe Gilgun (Preacher) and Danny Brocklehurst (Shameless), follows a group of working-class friends as they try to navigate life in a Northern suburbia as their teenage years of scamming and bribing finally start to catch up with them.

Vinnie (Joe Gilgun) is a Lancashire lad who suffers with bipolar disorder and is best friends with street smart Dylan (Damien Molony).

Sky Studios acquires a stake in True to Nature

(Credit: BBC)

This is the first investment Sky Studios has made, which is part of Sky’s plan to invest in more than double the original content across a range of genres over the next five years.

Founded in 2016 by Dr Wendy Drake, former head of the BBC natural history unit, TTN has produced a range of natural history series, including Dave’s ten-part series Expedition and BBC’s Undiscovered World with Steve Backshall.

Sky to double investment in production through Sky Studios

Jude Law will star in Sky Studios' The Third Day (Credit: Sky)

Overseen by Gary Davey, the current Managing Director of Sky UK, Sky Studios will build on the broadcaster’s recent run of successful drama series including Chernobyl and the RTS award-winning Save Me.

The new Europe-wide development and production capability has received backing from Sky’s new owners, Comcast, and will create new productions for outlets including Sky channels, NBC Broadcast and Cable, and Universal Pictures.