The CW’s popular football series All American, based on the life of former NFL linebacker Spencer Paysinger, has described their own unique challenges with regards to filming the third season of the drama in a recent interview with Variety. Due to the show not writing the pandemic into the upcoming season, producers have had to deal with special challenges in filming the upcoming season.
The season was being written right as the pandemic was about to hit as Showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll (Rosewood) states, “We started writing the season end of February – I rolled directly from season two into season three – so by the time the pandemic hit and it was like it was here to hang out for awhile, we went back and did our COVID pass on [scripts] and flagged scenes with too many extras in it,” via Variety. Carroll claims that the pandemic has made filming more difficult due to its role as a typical high school drama, “The biggest thing is we are a young adult show that loves to throw parties – homecoming, everybody’s birthday – and now it’s just like, ‘Uh uh, what three people are getting together to have a coffee and a chat?”
While scenes regarding the football team took planning to film without violating COVID-19 guidelines, any scenes set at a party or social gathering were easier due to the fact that they were made significant by smaller private moments with the show’s stars. Moreover, in order to adhere to restrictions, All American has added a team of health specialists to oversee production, including a COVID compliance officer and scheduler for COVID testing. Alongside these, production also maintains sanitation specialists who ensure every surface gets wiped down before and after each use, similarly to most production sets.
Uniquely, All American has block-scheduled this season so any football scenes will be shot over one period of time with football players, coaches, and specialists taking the full 14 days to quarantine in a hotel prior to filming. Regarding these scenes, Okoro Carroll states, “Football’s full contact; socially distanced football works for drills at practice but not for games and it’s their senior year so it just felt crazy [not to have football] if we weren’t addressing COVID on the show,” according to Variety.
In order to avoid unnecessary exposure of cast mates to each other, Okoro Carroll shares that the upcoming season will not feature extras in shots of the crowd or any characters having important conversations surrounded by extras on the sidelines. However, they will use footage from the first two seasons of the show to create the effect that this is a regular football season.
Meanwhile, with regards to scenes which require hugging or kissing, anything that breaches the six-foot distance between members of the cast will require a rapid COVID test on the day of shooting. Okoro Carroll details, “moments of a hug or a kiss [will be included] in a script if it was absolutely integral to the storyline.”
As the show’s COVID compliance officer, Pete Farrell ensures every member of the cast and crew arrives for their COVID tests and that everyone on the set wears a mask and social distances. He shares that each morning, anyone working on the set that day will check into an app entitled Passcard which he describes as, “A series of questions – essentially, ‘Have you experienced any COVID symptoms? Have you been around anyone who has tested positive? Do you live in any kind of group home?’ If you answer ‘yes’ to any of them, it will lock you out and not allow you to come on set. If you answer ‘no’ to everything, your phone screen will turn green, and you have to show that when you get to the gate. No one is allowed on set unless they can show that green screen.”
Farrell describes that he works 12-14 hour work days now that they have resumed production following a pause in October due to a positive test. With Los Angeles still surging with cases, both Farrell and Okoro Carroll state that these excessive guidelines are necessary in order to create the upcoming season successfully.
The third season of All American is slated to premiere on January 18 on the CW.