After AMC Networks ordered physical production on The Walking Dead Season 11 be pushed back three to four weeks while keeping its writers working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic that has forced widespread delays across the entertainment industry, showrunner Angela Kang says the zombie drama was already "very well set up" to work remotely. Because Season 11 is not yet in production, Kang and the Walking Dead team are enacting remote work protocols that have long been in place and everything "will continue to run, but on a remote basis," Kang says, explaining the writers' room is not expected to shut down.
"We are very well set up to work remotely," Kang told The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm a tech head. We do video conferences regularly. On a normal basis, I'm very stringent about, 'If you're sick, don't come into the office.' The other day, I was on the phone and in meetings from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., all day straight. I did Skype, I did FaceTime, I did Zoom, I did remote reviewing of VFX. We are very well set up to work remotely. That's been fine for us."
"Today, nobody is going to be at the office. The room will continue to run. We're doing it by conference call and we're doing it by video conference. Everything will continue to run, but on a remote basis," Kang explained. "We use Zoom. This is how we conference with Georgia when we're in production. I like the face-to-face of it. We've done this for many years. Even when we're not in a pandemic, any time anyone is sick, they just call into the room and it's not a big deal. We're very used to doing this."
Some crew members, including the line producer and the production designer, are on the ground on The Walking Dead's set in Georgia. Kang remains in daily contact with the line producer and AMC, saying everyone is "working up the plan."
"We don't have a crew that's shooting right now. In that way, we are not currently impacted," Kang added. "It sounds like our room won't shut down. Like I said, we are able to work remotely. We can keep plugging along on scripts. In terms of the production, it's all conversations that AMC is having and it's all being worked up behind the scenes, as I'm sure is happening everywhere else."
Kang also spoke on the real world similarities between the spread of coronavirus and the origin of The Walking Dead, caused by the spread of a disease that brought about the apocalypse.
"What's interesting is because of the particular storyline we're working on for Season 11, we've planned out a whole other thing with some real western and thriller elements to it," Kang said. "In some ways, we've been writing this show in this world for a decade. It's based on source material. In some ways, it's sideways from the beginning of an outbreak."
She continued, "All of us are thinking a lot about our own families and people out in the world who are struggling with this. All of us working on a show like this, there's a part of us who are very pro-preparedness for anything going wrong. The thing a lot of us are thinking about is it's good how people are really aware right now of how important public health is, and how it can really cause problems. We don't want to see anyone turning against each other in times like these. Hopefully everyone can come together. Those are the big themes of our show."
Talking Dead, the usually live aftershow trailing new episodes of The Walking Dead, announced Friday the live episode planned to air after Season 10 episode "Walk With Us" has been cancelled. That episode would have featured two surprise Walking Dead cast members alongside former series star Tom Payne.