Crew cuts for Neighbours

EXCLUSIVE: Major changes to crewing operations at Neighbours have been initiated by FremantleMedia Australia in a bid to upgrade a drama production model that has been in place since 1985.

The move comes after the soap’s 25th anniversary and before its switch to new channel, ELEVEN in January. UK execs are believed to have recently visited Neighbours to address production cost-cuts.

Sources tell TV Tonight the changes include studio shoots reduced from 3 to 2 cameras, with 1 camera to be used for location without steadicam, grips, dolly and crane. Locations will be confined to the backlot (Lassiters) and ‘Ramsay Street’ with occasional use of one-off locations. As a result the location manager and location catering have been cut. There is talk that technical director, art director, studio sound recordist and designer are also affected or gone.

While FremantleMedia says the changes are to “contemporise” production following 9 months of research and consultation with staff, TV Tonight understands some staff are said to be concerned about job security.

A year ago FremantleMedia invested heavily in the Global Studios site (formerly Channel 10 Nunawading) by expanding its backlot with new sets. While there are also whispers UK broadcaster Five may seek to renegotiate its long-term contract, so far it hasn’t happened.

Five holds a contract with the show until 2017 which secures its long-term future. TEN doesn’t reap any financial benefit from the UK sales, but it is enthusiastic about the show leading the launch of ELEVEN in January. It may also simulcast the show to help remind viewers of the switch.

A spokesperson from FremantleMedia Australia said the changes to crewing would drive the show’s future:

Neighbours is undergoing a workflow upgrade to accommodate advances in technology and production techniques to ensure we are at the forefront of professionalism and efficiency.

This initiative to contemporaise the creative and production process of Neighbours is being driven by FremantleMedia Australia’s desire to produce the best possible program possible.

“The Neighbours production model has been in place since 1985, it is time to evolve and adapt the international standards now used to create high-turn-over drama production.

“FMA has carried out a great deal of research globally, utilising the services of FremantleMedia’s World Wide Drama Unit, to establish best practice for Neighbours.

“Our primary commitment is to maintaining and growing our incredibly high production standards. We are dedicated to improving the production process to ultimately deliver a better quality of product.

“This process has been very collaborative with cast and crew. The commitment of the Neighbours cast and crew to the process and the potential for change was inclusive and incredibly reassuring.”

45 Comments:

  1. Susan Bower and anyone responsible for stories over the past few years doesn’t understand the genre. It’s soap! Serial drama – when was the last time anyone saw 5 minutes of this show that made you want to watch more? When was the last end of episode that made you want to know what happened next? When you watch now you need to watch for a week to make sense of a story. They can cut the budget, but will they start telling entertaining stories people relate to? It’s about suburban families – on a street with not one traditional family still living there. Good luck with that!

  2. Oliver Chettle

    Whoever put together that press release has to be seriously lacking in self-respect to be willing to tell so many obvious porkies. These are cuts, cuts in budget, cuts in quality, from every technical point of view at least.

  3. Interesting, this… 40 comments and almost total agreement among people who have clearly watched the show’s demise through the years. I wonder if anyone at Fremantle is reading… or if there’s anyone left there with the guts to do anything about it?

  4. If they genuinely want to make this show a hit again, really do what few shows have and burst back making a show that people start talking about etc then Susan Bower actually needs to leave now, why can’t they see that? It’s suffered and suffered through past cuts, crap advertising from Ten, and total lack of respect for years, it’s Australias longest running drama, to let it fade out like this with all the freemantle spin, is embarrassing. Really get someone behind the wheel who can deliver, god knows the UK would provide someone, they love it, make it grittier, better depth in storylines, dump the kids, better acting, multi-strand stories running, 3 storylines throughtout an episode like in the early 90’s before they changed to focus on 2, it can be done, just Why can no one see what is happening here – and changing it?

  5. Maybe these cuts will make Neighbours realise that it needs to up its game if it wants to survive.

    Over the last few years it has rapidly declined in quailty- with more flawed plots and shallow characters. Each episode gets more and more ridiculous, and I no longer find myself wanting to tune in everyday because it’s so bad.

    Compared with something like Corrie, for example, this show is dead in the water.

  6. I hope i’m wrong but it seems to be Neighbours are now in huge trouble.Going to channel 11 would have been a great for the show,but you include some of those changes they are talking about puts a huge dark cloud over the future of the show

  7. They’re essentially lowering production values.

    Interesting, as high production values are not something I would have said Neighbours was suffering from….

  8. No question this will be the end of the show….

    Say what you like about the show or the genre, twenty-five years on air is an achievement and for it to die through mis-management and neglect is terribly sad.

    Love it or loath it, it is an icon… one soon to be no more…..

  9. Honestly, it is time for Neigh-“bores” to be put out of its misery. This show should have been axed 15 years ago as the acting, scripts and storylines are pathetic at best. I saw about a minute of an episode last week and simply cannot understand how this rubbish continues to be seen on television. It makes Home + Away look like Shakespeare! I am at a loss to understand how anybody can tune into this rubbish. I doubt this show will continue on til 2017…that’s another 7 years. With the ratings it has been receiving the past few years I doubt it will last another 12 months. Once the show moves to Channel 11 it will be totally fogotten and left to die a very lonely, undignified and yet justifiable death. Sure, the show creates employment, but when the end product is as bad as this, one must make a wise decision and simply switch off the lights off in Ramsey street………..permanently…..

  10. I’m sorry to say it, but Neighbours is a terrible, terrible show. And three cameras should be cut to a selection of stills, if anything. It’d be more interesting.

    Can’t they take a hint? It’s only allowed to keep going because of its sentimental nature.

    How many chances does it need? How many relaunches? New sets? Cast changes? It’s daggy, 80s fodder, which has failed to keep up with the times.

  11. If it’s so expensive to make get rid of it. Bad show is bad, same goes for Home & Away from reality. With the exception of the UK soaps are dying a slow painful death, no one wants the terrible acting and dumb as dog poo storylines anymore. There is a reason a bunch of US soaps have died off in recent times.

    If you’re really broken up about the death of Soap Opera’s here’s an idea, turn off the telly and read a book.

  12. @Mate well the good news is, when Neighbours moves to Eleven, it will be PG, but don’t worry because goody two shoes Bower has assured us Neighbours won’t be getting too feisty as she wants to keep the show family orientated ‘just how Australia likes it’.

    Seriously, there’s like one effing family actually left watching this and even they probably get sick watching ep after ep of the garbage that was ONCE Neighbours. Bower has no idea what Australia wants. Firstly, she has to stop living in the ’80s and realise, ‘family orientated’ doesn’t work any more (Case Study: Hey, Hey It’s Saturday). Modern families don’t just sit around at dinner time as a happy-go-lucky nuclear lot to tune in to a new episode of Neighbours.

    Teens may like this kind of stuff, so I wouldn’t ‘Underbelly-erise’ the show; but teens also like PTTR, The OC, 90210, Skins, all of which have much higher (or had much higher) quality production; this is the kind of stuff she should be turning to for inspiration; or better yet, do something original (but hey, it’s Bower we’re talking about here, so don’t expect miracles on that last point!). The rest of Neighbours’ fan base comes from 20- 30 year olds; so get rid of those whingy kids (Callum, Sophie, Charlie) because they are not actors, are not appealing to anyone and quite frankly, the amount of storylines (not many, but enough) revolving around Sophie and Callum (like Sophie’s crush on Zeke, Callum crying at Toadies every mistake, Callum and Sonya, Sophie hating Callum coz of that stupid dance thing) is just ridiculous. Kids should be used, no more than, background extra’s to make the show more realistic.

    Lastly, onto sets, and personally, I can’t blame Bower for actually having the sets removed, but the fact she is still all bloody smiles and giggles over the whole matter, she should really be hanging her head because if the budget’s that low, she only has herself to blame. Maybe Bower got so caught up in the show that she actually used Neighbours’ last remaining dollars to file an appeal for some chick named ‘Steph’ at some Melbourne jail XD.

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