The Expanse writers talk overcoming production problems in a pandemic


Making a TV show isn’t easy. Making one during a global pandemic is near impossible, but the team behind The Expanse managed to pull it off.

The fifth season of The Expanse, Amazon Prime Video’s excellent sci-fi series, ran from late 2020 through early 2021, the height of pandemic times, and we were thankful for the distraction.

But while we were watching the season during the pandemic, it was filmed before the lockdowns began. That’s what Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham — who write The Expanse books under the name James S.A. Corey — told us when we talked with them about their experience working on the latest season of the show.

Of course, a lot of postproduction work still had to be done after the lockdowns started. But as many of us have discovered, there’s a lot of work that can be done from home. That includes work in the entertainment industry, although it’s not without its challenges.

Writing a show involves communicating complicated ideas, and it was tricky going from being in an actual room with people to being in a chat room. Normal interactions and conversations become clipped and squeezed when they are texted, emailed or conveyed through video, making it harder to send complex orders to a team of, say, CGI effects developers. With its convincing depictions of zero gravity and more, the latest season of The Expanse was by far the best looking one to date. That the effects artists managed to pull it off while working remotely is very impressive.

As for writing work, Franck and Abraham explained how working remote can change the tenor and timing of discussion. In person, ideas can change and flow freely, with group decisions getting made much quicker. Now that everyone is in a different location, making a group decision takes much longer, which can extend production time. But if this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s patience, and I have no reservations about waiting a bit longer if the quality is great, and that’s exactly what The Expanse team delivered with season 5.

The Expanse season 6 is shooting as this is being written, and not only are the same postproduction obstacles there, but now the team has to deal with the challenges of actually filming in these conditions. That the show is as good as it is a testament to the people that make it.

Next. Astrophysicist explains why The Expanse is more realistic than Star Wars, Star Trek. dark

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