The appetite for premium unscripted is creating a freelancer “capacity problem” in the UK, which has influenced Studio Lambert's decision to move production of Netflix’s The Circle from Manchester to the US.
The first five series of the social media reality format, an adaptation of the indie’s Channel 4 show, were filmed in a block of flats that has now been reverted to domestic use.
Series six and seven were shot in a larger base in Atlanta, Georgia, which also benefits from tax relief.
In an interview with Deadline, Studio Lambert chief executive Stephen Lambert discussed the popularity of big-budget, high-concept reality shows like Squid Game: the Challenge, which it is co-producing for Netflix with The Garden, or 72 Films’ Amazon Prime series 007: Road to a Million.
Discussing crewing up for premium unscripted shows, he said: “There’s definitely a capacity problem [in the UK]. There is a concentration of work in one particular genre but that doesn’t necessarily match [freelancer] demand, which is for lower cost shows that aren’t happening so much because British buyers aren’t going for them.”
This played a part in the decision to move The Circle, he said, adding that Studio Lambert has the “network” to crew up for hugely ambitious formats. Buyers need to appreciate, he said, that “there is a lag between that moment of committing to doing the show and going into production”.
Studio Lambert has also scored a second run of BBC1’s Celebrity Race Across the World and a third series of The Traitors for the channel, ahead of the broadcast of series two.
The indie is firmly fixed on “big” premium unscripted formats and its development team prepares only around 10 pitches per year.
Acknowledging that it is “a tough time to be a producer”, Lambert said: “There is work to be had if you can persuade buyers you can deliver on large-scale unscripted shows. Fortunately, once you’re in that club, there aren’t that many members.”