Greg Nicotero explains the delay on The Walking Dead finale
The Walking Dead finished filming season 10 back in November 2019 — well before society shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. So it was somewhat surprising news when AMC announced on social media that the season finale scheduled to air on April 12 was being postponed indefinitely. "Current events have unfortunately made it impossible to complete post-production of The Walking Dead Season 10 finale, so the current season will end with its 15th episode on Sunday, April 5,” read a post on Twitter. “The planned finale will appear as a special episode later in the year."
The question remains when the final season 10 installment will air, but while speaking to EW Live (SiriusXM, channel 109) the man who directed that missing episode, Greg Nicotero, shed a little more light on why that episode still has yet to see the light of day. “When you’re in post-production, it kind of goes like this,” explains Nicotero. “You have to edit the episode, then you do sound effects, and then you do music, and then visual effects, and then color timing to make sure all the colors in all the scenes match, and then you have to do a quality check to make sure nothing is messed up. So there are all these steps that have to happen, and generally speaking, the way our production schedule works is those happen up to about three weeks before the episode airs.” That three-week window means the finale was scheduled to be completed around March 22, after work had already been shut down.
“So we were really on our way to the finish line when things started slowing down because of the stay at home work order,” says Nicotero. “So we just missed that window. It wasn’t that the effects were delayed or anything was delayed. It was just the delivery of the episode was set to be delivered at a specific date and we had to shut down before they hit that date.” But Nicotero does promise one thing: “It’s a really amazing episode. I love the way episode 15 ends where you see Beta bringing the herd to the tower where everybody is holed up. There’s a lot teed up, so to speak.”
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan) previously told EW Live that the finale is “massive”, and with the penultimate episode setting up an impending battle between the allied communities and the Whisperers, one can assume it was a complicated installment in post-production with plenty of effects that were impossible to rush through before the work stoppage.
The Walking Dead is not Nicotero's only show that was impacted by the shutdown. Nicotero’s Creepshow revival for Shudder was close to starting filming on season 2 when everything stopped. How close? “We were literally one day away from beginning production on season 2 when the pause button was pushed,” the showrunner reveals. “We had sets built. We had the cast done, we had the effects done. We were one day away from starting to shoot.”
Creepshow does a bulk of its filming during the Walking Dead hiatus (using many TWD crew members), but with production now delayed indefinitely on both programs, how will that impact timing on both shows once everything starts back up? “We hadn’t officially started prep for season 11 [on TWD], they were writing scripts,” says Nicotero. “So I think there’s going to be a little bit of a buffer between shooting Creepshow and then prepping Walking Dead. That was always the plan anyway, to squeeze it in during the hiatus. And that’s part of the reason we shoot in Georgia, so when I’m doing post on Creepshow I can be there for Walking Dead. I think the timing will work out where it’s not going to overlap because it wasn’t going to overlap before all this happened. So I think we’re still on the same timetable whenever the pause button is pushed again and things start to move.”
When filming does pick back up, Nicotero notes that things could look very different on set. “It’s going to be very interesting in terms of seeing how productions work and how things that we are so accustomed to doing on sets will change, and will change pretty dramatically,” says the director. “The number of people you have on set will probably diminish, which might mean it will take a little bit longer, where instead of having 60 people on set you may have 35 or 40 people on set. I know the industry is working towards some sort of industry-wide guideline in terms of are we going to do box lunches and nobody takes a break and you shoot for 10 hours and that’s it. No one’s really going to know, so it’s going to be a unique situation and definitely a brand-new world.”
There has been one silver lining to the massive cloud of uncertainty and delays that has plagued Nicotero’s productions —season 1 of Shudder’s Creepshow is now airing Monday nights on AMC, so the horror guru still is able to scare the bejesus out of people on a weekly basis.