The Gathering on Channel 4

The Gathering - Channel 4.

Back in May 2023, an exciting opportunity came my way. The production designer invited me to join the art department crew for an upcoming TV show called “The Gathering,” written by the acclaimed novelist Ellen Walsh. It was both an honor and a challenge.

The Preparation Phase

The journey began with four intense weeks of preparation. As the lead graphic designer and head of the art department, my role was crucial. I had to create all the visual elements for the show’s universe, ensuring each piece fit seamlessly with the storyline and the show’s aesthetic. This meant designing everything from posters and logos to t-shirts and everyday objects like drinks, books, magazines, and photos.

Filling the Scene and Action Graphics

In “The Gathering,” graphics served different purposes. Some were used to “fill the scene,” adding depth and realism to the environment. These included everyday items like posters, logos, t-shirts, and drinks, which contributed to the show’s overall look and feel.

However, some graphics were essential to the storyline, known as “action graphics.” These were crucial to the plot and character interactions. For example, a legal magazine I created played a key role in several scenes. The main character, Kelly, and her dad, Paul, had an important scene involving this magazine, making it a critical prop that helped drive the narrative forward.

Crafting the Digital World

One of the unique aspects of “The Gathering” is its focus on the lives of young characters who, naturally, are avid users of technology. This added another layer of complexity to my role. I had to design all the apps and digital interfaces that these characters would use throughout the show. This included creating realistic yet fictional versions of popular apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Uber, and FaceTime, as well as designing unique ones that fit the show’s universe.

These apps were “remote controlled” to simulate interactions with other characters, such as answering SMS messages or receiving phone calls. Some apps were visible to the camera, requiring a high level of detail to ensure authenticity. Others, while not directly in view, were essential for providing the correct timing and reactions for the actors, enhancing the realism of their performances.

My Background

Before “The Gathering,” my career in TV and film was primarily as a visual effects artist, 3D animator, and 3D modeller. Typically, I worked on projects after filming was completed. This marked only my second time working on set during filming. The first was when I created titles and motion graphics for “Festivalbar,” one of the most important music shows in Italy. Working on set for “The Gathering” provided a unique and exciting challenge, allowing me to be part of the creative process in real-time.

Bringing It All Together

The production phase extended over 14 weeks, filled with creativity, collaboration, and hard work. Working closely with the production designer, the director and other members of the art department, we meticulously crafted every visual detail. The goal was to create an immersive experience that would captivate the audience and enhance the storytelling.

Every graphic element had a purpose, contributing to the world-building of “The Gathering.” The posters and logos helped establish the show’s branding and visual identity. T-shirts and drinks added realism to the characters’ lives, while books and magazines provided depth and context to the show’s environment. Each photo was carefully chosen or created to add layers to the narrative, making the world of “The Gathering” feel lived-in and authentic.

The Gathering is now available to binge watch

Now, “The Gathering” is available on demand and airing on Channel 4, produced by World Productions, a company owned by ITV. Seeing the show come to life and knowing I played a crucial role in shaping its visual landscape is incredibly rewarding. The feedback from viewers and critics has been overwhelmingly positive, with particular praise for the show’s attention to detail and the realistic portrayal of the characters’ digital interactions.

Working on “The Gathering” has been an amazing experience. It pushed the boundaries of my creativity and technical skills and allowed me to collaborate with a talented team of professionals dedicated to bringing Ellen Walsh’s vision to the screen. The meticulous process of creating each graphic element, especially the digital interfaces, has deepened my appreciation for the art of visual storytelling in television production.

As viewers continue to watch “The Gathering,” I hope the graphics and digital elements I designed enhance their connection to the story and characters, making their viewing experience even more immersive and enjoyable.