Baltasar Kormákur is set to resume filming his eight-part Netflix series Katla, RÚV reports. Described as a “supernatural volcano drama,” the series stars Guðrún Ýr Eyfjörð, better known as the musician GDRN, Íris Tanja Flygenring, Ingvar Sigurðsson, Þorsteinn Bachmann, Sólveig Arnarsdóttir, and Swedish actors Aliette Opheim and Valter Skarsgård. The Everest director is releasing the series through his own production company, RVK Studios.
Katla follows the lives of the residents of Vík, on the south coast of Iceland, a year after the Katla volcano erupts. As a glacier near the volcano begins to melt, many in the village are forced to evacuate, while the stalwarts who remain try to keep the village, which has largely become a ghost town, alive. The melting glacier uncovers long-hidden secrets, however, all of which have unexpected consequences on the characters.
According to a recent interview with Deadline, Baltasar began working on the series before the COVID-19 pandemic reached the Nordic countries and was able to complete a few weeks of filming before having to put the production on hold. He anticipates needing three additional weeks to complete filming, which will conclude in July.
The production has been able to resume with a reduced crew and social distancing precautions. The sheer size of RVK Studios is a particular boon in circumstances such as these; at 45,200 square feet, it’s one of the biggest studios in Europe and is located in an isolated area. “So, we could control very easily, or actually very clearly, the number of people in the space,” Baltasar explained to the film industry publication. “I came up with kind of a colour-coded spacing system so that people wearing the same colours know which group they are and they are only allowed in certain spaces. There will never be more than 20 people with the same colour. This way, we could segregate the studio down to four main spaces and we minimised the crew and try to keep the two-metre distance.”
The cast and crew were also all tested for the virus before filming resumed, the set and equipment are regularly sanitised, and everyone’s temperatures are checked every morning. Baltasar said he believes his cast and crew are “honestly…more safe on that set than anywhere else. I live with four children so we vary from six to eight at home and you can’t keep them in the house. I think that because of the quarantine and the measures we did on set, it actually became a very safe spot.”
Asked how filming amidst the coronavirus crisis compares with other challenges that he’s faced on previous projects, Baltasar told Deadline that “It is in some way very similar. When I was making Everest, I remember saying, let’s bow our head to the mountain and accept what it gives you. You can’t fight nature, you have to respect it and work with it, unafraid. And the same goes with the ocean in Adrift and The Deep. And now with the virus.”