Production resumes in SA with ABC/Closer Productions’ ‘Aftertaste’

Erik Thomson. 

Closer Productions’ Aftertaste (working title, formerly Yes, Chef!) has resumed pre-production for the ABC, preparing to shoot in Adelaide and surrounds over the coming months.

Erik Thomson leads the dramedy as Easton West, an internationally renowned yet volatile celebrity chef whose spectacular fall from grace sees him return to his home town in the Adelaide Hills, where he endeavours to rebuild his career and restore his reputation, with the help of his talented, young, pastry-chef niece.

The series, created Julie de Fina and Matthew Bate, had been due to kick off just before the pandemic.

Bate produces with Thomson and Rebecca Summerton, and he and de Fina wrote the scripts with Matt Vesely. De Fina is the EP, with ABC executive producer Rebecca Anderson. The production office is located in the newly-reopened Adelaide Studios.

As the first project to resume in South Australia, Aftertaste will be a test case for a new risk assessment tool developed by Deloitte Risk Advisory for the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC).

Freely available on the SAFC website, the tool is designed to provide producers with a bespoke risk management plan for their production, to be used in conjunction with the industry-developed COVID-safe guidelines. This plan can then be shared with financiers and utilised to get cameras rolling quickly and safely.

SAFC CEO Kate Croser tells IF that while the protocols were an “essential first step” to restarting production, the tool is designed to help implement those guidelines in tailored manner, and factors in state-based regulation. The agency is happy to share the tool broadly with other state agencies and Screen Producers Australia.

“What we’re finding is financiers are requiring producers to have their own risk management plans in place to be able to resume production. So even though the guidelines are there, every production is different and has its own challenges and risk profile,” Croser says.

Croser is hopeful Aftertaste will be the first of many productions to restart in SA over coming months, noting the state has a slate of projects ready to go. SAFC has put further funds in development for projects that have needed to make changes to production plans, and is working with other financiers to address the extra costs of shooting in the current era.

However, a restart in earnest largely depends on the issue of insurance; currently no provider will cover a new production for COVID-19. Croser is hopeful that the $50 million Temporary Interruption Fund announced by the Federal Government last week, to be administered by Screen Australia, will help address the issue.

Summerton says: “Working with Deloitte and using the Tool gave our financiers the confidence to support the recommencement of pre on Aftertaste (w/t), enabling us to meet crucial deadlines for our lead cast availability and get back to work.”

ABC head of scripted production Sally Riley says: “We’re thrilled to welcome Erik back to the ABC, in a role created for him by Julie de Fina and one that is very different to his usual characters. I can’t wait for the talented team at Closer Productions to bring this irreverent and laugh-out-loud series to the screen.”

Screen Australia head of content Sally Caplan says: “Closer Productions have an impressive track record of creating compelling and edgy comedy-dramas and we are delighted this series is back in pre-production and can’t wait for the ABC serve up this high cuisine drama.”

Aftertaste received major production investment from Screen Australia, in association with the SAFC.