Photo: Jamie, Claire and Jemmy, by the ever talented and gracious Vera Adxer
Happy Spring! As the Outlander story goes on and gets bigger and bigger, so does the cast, crew, and the fanbase. At any given time, there’s always something new to report, if not a lot to report!
Top of mind for fans is probably the release date for Bees, and what’s happening with Season 5. When will filming start? When will it finish? And when will we see it? In short, when will we get more Outlander???
Diana has said that Bees is coming along nicely, and she expects it to hit bookshelves sometime this year. Looking back at the previous 8 Outlander novels, June seems to be a popular publication month (Outlander and MOBY), along with September (ABSOA and Echo), and December (Voyager and DOA). I’m guessing we all vote for June???
Production on Season 5 appears to be gearing up; we got a video from Caitriona made at the Cumbernauld studio, including a cameo by Jon Gary Steele (who is usually trying to avoid the camera!). Clearly this set is still under construction, but things are happening! This is good news…
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And so it begins……. Season 5 (yep that’s 1, 2, 3, 4..FIVE ? ) prep time !!!! Excuse the shrill shouting but I was very very excited to catch @jongarysteele on the incredible new set he and his team of genius artisans have built !!! Get READY!! @outlander_starz #Outlander #outlanderseason5
Love those dimples! And whose bed frame do you think that might be?? Hmmmm.
So, it’s prep time. What does that mean? I’m no expert, but I’m guessing it means costume fittings and adjustments, building sets, finalizing hires for first block crew members and extras, finalizing first block scripts, memorizing lines, dialect coaching, (perhaps some baby whispering lessons for Sam ?), preparing equipment, team meetings, read throughs, and basically getting the well oiled machine that is Outlander production back into working order.
This is from Stephen Woolfenden’s Twitter account. Stephen directed the last episode of Season 4: Man of Worth. Perhaps he is directing the first episode of Season 5…?
— Stephen Woolfenden (@woolfenden_s) March 7, 2019
[Recce is a production term used in the UK meaning a pre-filming visit to a location to determine its suitability for shooting, including access to necessary facilities and assessment of any potential lighting or sound issues, and is closely related to location scouting.]
Filming was supposed to start in February, but was delayed. My understanding is that production will now start in April and run through November, so it seems things are on track.
Maril has told us it takes 2 weeks to film one episode, and we know Season 5 will have 12 episodes, so that’s 2 x 12 = 24 weeks. If filming begins at the start of April, and runs 24 weeks, it will end sometime in mid September (assuming a consecutive filming schedule, though there will likely be breaks for holidays). Post production takes up to 2 months per episode, so if they finish shooting in mid September, Season 5 should be ready to air in mid November of this year. The Starz lineup for other shows is a consideration for airing dates, so that will play in. Based on my information and calculations, at this time, my best guess is, we will get Season 5 in (mid) November again, or, not until January, 2020.
Gary Steele confirmed his team is working on the “Big House”…
Don't tell anyone….Big House being built now…. xxjgs
— JON GARY STEELE (@jongarysteele) January 21, 2019
(Perhaps those were the interiors for the Big House we were seeing in Cait’s video?)
This season, Sam and Caitriona are returning not only as Jamie and Claire, but as co-producers of the show, which means they will have significant input into how Jamie and Claire are written (hurrrah!). They’ve been playing these characters for 5+ years, and have grown right along with them. I feel certain their input will be invaluable, and I am fascinated to see how this plays out.
On March 5th, we got an update from Sam that looks promising… “Have read several scripts for S5! You won’t be disappointed! Can’t wait to get started!”
Have read several scripts for S5!
— Sam Heughan (@SamHeughan) March 6, 2019
Following is an excerpt from an interview Caitriona did with Vanity Fair in the end of January this year…
Balfe has been playing Claire Fraser for long enough now that it’s only natural she would feel some sense of ownership over the character. “Of course!” she laughingly replied when I asked if she ever pushed back on the way her character was written this season (Season 4). Outlander saw a large influx of new writers in Seasons 3 and 4.
Photo: The writers room, 2017. Source: Diana’s Facebook page.
“What’s great is that they bring a new perspective,” Balfe said. “But for sure there are times that the character you’ve been building is maybe not what they’ve written. Sometimes you have resistance to something because it doesn’t feel honest. Sometimes you have resistance to something just because it’s new. Sometimes you’re like, ‘oh, I wish we hadn’t done that.”
This is a seemingly young bunch of writers, much younger than the original team of writers for Season 1: Ron D Moore (54), Ira Steven Behr (64), Anne Kenney (30 year veteran), Toni Graphia (58), and Matt Roberts (40 something?). Matt was the youngster then, in fact, and now he’s the senior writer, along with Toni. I can’t help but wonder about the challenges of writing complex characters in their 50’s, with grown children, blended extended family, grandkids, a long term marriage, and a lot of history (no pun intended). Having said that, some of my favorite episodes from Season 4 were written by new writers: Episode 406, Blood of My Blood, written by Shaina Fewell, and I thought Savages (405) was excellent, by Bronwyn Garrity. I also enjoyed If Not For Hope (411), which was written by Shaina and Bronwyn. The Birds and The Bees (409) was probably my favorite episode in Season 4, written by Matt and Toni. I truly hope Bronwyn and Shaina return for Season 5. I also hope we get at least one episode written by Ron D. Moore, and I really hope we get one written by Herself.
In LA recently, I met and chatted with a longtime TV producer who told me that retaining a talented, cohesive writing team is one of the biggest challenges in producing a long running television series.
Caitriona mentioned in that same Vanity Fair interview that renewing Seasons 5 and 6 allowed the writers room to let the story “breathe,” which means expanded storylines. This is good news, as long as there is someone overseeing the continuity of writing and character development across the season. I found a lack of consistency in the second half of Season 3 and across Season 4. Outlander became a little like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates: we never knew what we were getting. To be fair, they slid into Season 4 with no break between seasons, and were under the gun the whole time.
The term “expanded storylines” may also strike a nerve with fans, as the one universal cry I heard coming out of Season 4 was: Jamie and Claire are the story, keep them as the central focus. I see the challenge writers face – they need to spend enough time with other characters that we are invested in their stories, but screen time is precious, and some people see any time away from Jamie and Claire as too much.
Another constant request by fans since Season 2 has been for more intimate scenes between Jamie and Claire. In a press Q&A following Starz’ Fiercely Female panel for the Television Critics Association in February, Caitriona spoke about Claire’s sex life, and the portrayal of sex on the show…
Q: Why is it important to tell realistic stories about both sexual violation and sexual pleasure? And we talk about safe spaces. What is it like as actors?
Caitriona: “First of all, telling Claire’s sex life through this female gaze or the sex that Jamie and Claire have, it’s very important to who they are as a couple. And that’s an important, I think, aspect of the story. I think the sexual violence is also an important part of the storytelling if you’re going to tell the real life story of what was going on in that time in that place. We have a responsibility I think to try and do it in a responsible way and to try and give agency to the characters that are being victimized. And I think we’ve done a pretty good job in not just showing the act but then in the repercussions. I think that was so important in Briana’s story this season that we get to see the long lasting effects of what happens when you’ve been raped and how that affects not just the person, but also the family.
So yes, it’s definitely a part of the book series and so therefore it’s a part of our show. It’s in the DNA of that but I think we all spend an awful lot of time trying to do it in the right way. As actors, from very early on, Ron Moore was very clear that he wanted to do this in a different way. He didn’t want to do your typical TV sex and he wanted to make it from a female perspective so that automatically puts you in a much safer space. And then it’s a continuation of conversations and making sure that every time one of these scenes come up, it’s not just like oh, well, you guys do that so we’re just going to do the same thing again. Every single time is a new conversation because how you feel about yourself and your body and where you’re at, it changes from day to day, month to month. You have to constantly make sure that everybody’s comfortable and okay with something that’s going to live on the internet or in pictures or on video for the rest of your life.
We’re very lucky that we have an open dialogue with our producers and our writers. It’s very important to keep that open and keep it a strong conversation.”
I really respect the fact that Caitriona and Sam are consulted about what they are comfortable doing regarding sex scenes and their bodies, before it is done. This feels right to me, and is more important than seeing them get it on, (although that’s always nice ?).
I do think it bodes well for Season 5 that the cast and crew got a real break between seasons, (and even longer than expected with the additional time from February to April). They seem rested, excited and ready to return to work, and I’m sure the added prospect of being producers makes it a new and interesting challenge for Sam and Cait. The bottom line is, I have faith in the production team.
Sam has posted a couple of tidbits about Season 5 over the last couple of weeks.
This one is from Friday, March 15th… “Getting ready for Season 5!!!!! Excited to be working with this talented family again. I’m so lucky! ?”
The above photo is from their Emmy’s tour for Season 3.
We got an update from Ron via Terry recently, on March 8th… “So…a little OL tidbit. Ron was just bringing me up to date on OL. He said I could tell you that everything is looking good and it’s full speed ahead. He’s very happy with everything! ?”
So…a little OL tidbit.
Ron was just bringing me up to date on OL. He said I could tell you that everything is looking good and its full speed ahead.
He’s very happy with everything!
— Terry Dresbach (Outlander Costume) (@OutlanderCostum) March 9, 2019
Maril (and Carrot), at the end of January… “Can’t believe we’ve reached the final Outlander weekend of S4. This season has gone so fast!! Thankfully we’re already knee deep into S5 Fiery Cross. Want to take the opportunity to thank our Cast, Writers, Producers, Fans & most importantly, our fabulous CREW (Unsung heroes).”
Jon Gary Steele has been back in Scotland preparing for Season 5 since mid September of 2018, but based on prior seasons, I imagine his design work started well before that. Hopefully the below photo is not an indication of how things are going!! ?
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Creating a season of Outlander for us takes a looong time, and a loooot of work. This is a tweet from Matt from August of 2018.
It feels great to know they are all together again, working to bring us the next book in our favorite series!
In other news, Diana, arrived in London on March 10th with her husband, Doug, and they made their way to Edinburgh for a long weekend of events put on by Visit Scotland. The Scottish Thistle Awards were established to recognize and celebrate excellence in Scottish tourism, and have been recognized as Scotland’s tourism industry’s Oscars, (according to their website).
Photo: Diana with her Thistle Award, by Stuart Wallace
Diana received this gorgeous honorary Thistle award for her international contribution to Scottish tourism (in other words, the Outlander Effect). Visitor numbers to attractions featured in the show have soared by 67% since 2014. The award was presented to Diana at the Thistle Awards ceremony at the Edinburgh International Conference Center on Thursday, March 14th.
Thomas Wightman created this beautiful book sculpture. He shared the below images on Twitter. To see more images check out his site: Thomas Wightman.
On Friday, March 15th, Diana gave a talk in Hopetoun House (think Duke of Sandringham’s pad, Season 2). Attendees listened to Diana’s talk and were able to look around the historic building. What a fabulous event!
Source: @mohair4821 on Twitter.
On Saturday, Diana and hubby toured around with a group, lead by Mary’s Meanders Tours.
Emma: “Today was a very memorable day! We hosted a Visit Scotland Press Trip with journalists from France, Germany and Scotland and we had a special guest too…. We were honoured to host Diana on an Outlander tour today…. Despite the weather we had a wonderful day out visiting locations. Thank you again Diana!”
Photo: Emma, left, Diana, and Anne.
I contacted Emma to find out more about their day, and she gave me their itinerary…
Emma: “We started the day off showing Bakehouse Close and Tweedale Court to the journalists.”
Photo: Mary’s Meanders Tours – journalists on the stairs to the print shop.
Emma: “Then we picked Diana and Doug up and we all went to Orocco Pier for brunch. After that it was over to Culross for a walk around the village and then we popped in to Graham’s photography shop for a bit.”
Photo by Victoria @mangoandsalt , Culross (Cranesmuir from Season 1).
Emma: “Next it was to Falkland, again to see the village and into the Palace before coming back to Edinburgh. The weather was shocking at times!!”
PIC: Visit Scotland/Colin Hattersley.
With usual Scottish practicality, residents of Falkland said about the onslaught of Outlander fans: “Well, you can’t get parked anymore,” offers resident Anne Rankin. Another resident, whose house was used in a scene when lead character Claire Randall Fraser appears at a window overlooking the Mercat Cross, adds: “I get people looking up and taking pictures of me eating my breakfast.” ?
These quotes come from an article by Alison Campsie, for The Scotsman, who wrote on Twitter, “Some woman, right there. A pleasure to meet Diana Gabaldon.” Yep, she’s some woman, alright! To give you the feel of the day, read on (thank you Lori!)… Diana Gabaldon: On superfans, whisky, and the ‘miracle’ of Outlander.
I believe Diana was due to stay in Europe for 10 days, so she should have arrived back home yesterday, or possibly today. This weekend a group of fans come to her in Scottsdale, AZ for a small fundraising dinner hosted by my buddy at Outlander Homepage. Our BTS lass, Karmen will be there too; I look forward to hearing all about it!
Incidentally, Outlander Behind The Scenes Patrons get a discount with Mary’s Meanders Tours, so Patrons, when you head to Scotland, give them a shout. They are wonderful. Patrons will receive a special code to give to Mary’s Meanders Tours, so shoot me a note if you’re planning to go.
Have a beautiful day. xo