Featured photo: Jason Sudeikis in Ted Lasso, now streaming on Apple TV+. (Courtesy of Apple TV.)
Ted Lasso follows the titular coach, a Kansas college football coach (played by Jason Sudeikis, also one of the creators on the show), who goes with the flow of everything; and that’s surely the case when he’s invited to the United Kingdom to manage a struggling London football team, called AFC Richmond, in their Premier League.
Ted Lasso was a great surprise during a pandemic, as something heartfelt and incredibly joyous, as the character of Ted Lasso (played by Jason Sudeikis, also one of the creators on the show) and his outlook on life was charming as hell, and just so positive. I knew I was going to love the show from the first episode when the owner of AFC Richmond, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), asks Ted, “Do you believe in ghosts, Ted?” And Lasso replies: “Yes, but most importantly I think they should believe in themselves.”
There are so many great aspects to the show as everything complements each other, and that’s surely something I learned taking part in a press conference for Ted Lasso with the post-production team, where their work helped make the show what it is today. From the editing (by editors Melissa McCoy and A.J. Catoline), the music (with one of the series composers Tom Howe and music supervisor Tony Von Pervieux on the call), to the sound (with supervising sound editor Brent Findley and re-recording mixers Ryan Kennedy and Sean Byrne), to supervising producer like Kip Kroeger and even the VFX, with VFX supervisor Lawson Deming participating.
You can find some interesting tidbits from that conversation below:
Karaoke and Let It Go
Music supervisor Tony Von Pervieux spoke about one of the moments where his team wasn’t sure if they’d get the go-ahead to use the rights to a song. That was specifically in the seventh episode of the first season in a karaoke scene when the owner of AFC Richmond, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) would sing Idina Menzel’s “Let It Go” from Frozen. This was one of the scripted songs for the show, though Von Pervieux cited how difficult it would be to acquire a song from Disney’s catalogue, especially for a non-Disney property.
He explains that they got a rejection for it at first and then had to show Disney what it would look like in the script. “She’s an amazing singer and there’s no negativity around the song,” said Von Pervieux. “Once we shot it, I was able to send it to them and get the denial reversed. That was a situation where they pointed to her singing these Frozen songs to her goddaughter earlier in the episode so it was pivotal we try to keep that and get that win.”
He also says that they shot a back-up song in case they couldn’t keep “Let It Go,” and that alternate song was Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Von Pervieux says that, while that’s a great song, Sudeikis was happy they were able to keep “Let It Go” for the moment.
Von Pervieux also explained that for a first season of a series, it’s harder to get approval on certain songs because the series isn’t proven yet. “But this [second] season, because of how great the show is and how well the music’s used, we’re going to have a lot less difficulty clearing most of these songs as they come in,” he said.
The score and Tom Howe working with Marcus Mumford
Staying on the topic of the music, one of the series composers Tom Howe was also on the call and he spoke about the experience of working with main series composer Marcus Mumford and how Tom spent 10 days at Marcus’ studio working on the score with him. “It was more like working on a record,” said Tom Howe.
They were finding the tone for the show in its sound – which many of the post-production members referred to as an “exploration phase” since it’s the first season of the show – and Howe says they found the main emotional beat for the show rather quickly.
“We were off to the races, or so we thought,” says Howe. “The things we actually found hard getting the right tone on was the comedy and sports stuff. We looked back at a lot of sports movies and it’s hard to get things right actually… In a way that sits with the rest of it and keeps the right edge, and something that doesn’t sound cheesy.”
Editing the comedy
The editors for the show were asked how much of the comedy would often be left on the cutting room floor and if they were laughing while editing. “I’m laughing pretty hard, actually,” said editor Melissa McCoy.
“There are so many gems that come from watching the dailies and you see them working through the comedy beats. Our first season was a lot of exploration and no one knew what this show was yet. Our first cut was like 40 minutes.”
“A lot of the times I would be [saying] R.I.P. to my favourite jokes,” she says as she kisses her fingers and gestures to the sky. McCoy explains that Jason Sudeikis – who is also one of the creators of the show – would cut some funny things because it didn’t fit the character or serve the story, or if they felt like they could save certain jokes for the second season.
She also explained that with all the improv that happens on set, sometimes there wouldn’t be good reaction shots. “Sometimes there wouldn’t be a good button to go out on so you’re constantly trying to get this joke in and tell it in a way that’s concise and funny and pointed.”
Fellow series editor A.J. Catoline also had some thoughts about the improv, and how many great alternate takes or funny surprises they’d find in the dailies and “the gems” they find “working with a great comedic actor,” especially for Episode 10.
“Like [Ted] running out of Rebecca’s office and he mistimes his leap and hits his head on the door, that was obviously one take and the last take for that day because he could have hurt himself,” said Catoline. “It was a brilliant piece of improv and I remember the director e-mailing me and telling me, ‘You need to include this.’”
“It makes it it fun as an editor because we’re off-script and the script is written in the cutting room,” said Catoline. “That’s thrilling.”
The visual effects
Looking at a sports comedy like Ted Lasso, you wouldn’t expect there to be a lot of visual effects, but there is a ton of work that went into that side of things, with editor AJ Catoline putting it best by saying “it’s an invisible art from a very visible artist.”
That artist is VFX supervisor Lawson Deming. “Aside from a couple shots, none of these games were shot in a real stadium,” said Deming. “They were all shot on a practice field and we created a fully digital version of basically Selhurst Park, with some CG crowd and some plate photography crowd to fill it.”
He explains that there’s a minimal amount of green screen because the camera is always moving, so the only green screen is really with the signage and logos, as well as the behind the net. He explains that they put their digital lighting fixtures over the practical lights so that there would be natural flares and they could replicate it well.
Also fascinatingly, he explains that most of the fans in the stands were “digi doubles,” where different fans would have different reactions to the game action, and depending on the colour that they’re wearing, they could control the reactions of the fans and decide when each person cheers.
Supervising producer Kip Kroeger also added on that the original plan was indeed to shoot at Selhurst Park, but they never got clearance so Lawson had to build the stadium digitally from scratch.
“Sometimes that’s the best compliment you can get is that the technical aspect of what you’re doing fades into the background and people don’t even think about it,” said Deming.
“I was blown away and I work on the show,” editor Melissa McCoy added on.
The sound and Dolby Atmos
The sound team spoke about what it was like working with Dolby Atmos and how immersive that sounds, especially for the sports scenes where they could control the sounds of the crowd and make that separate from the dialogue and music.
“The dialogue is still singing in your face but you get this atmosphere around you,” said re-recording mixer Sean Byrne. “I also get to play with the sound design. Brent [Findley, supervising sound editor] will give me some sound effects or the editors will give me some sound effect, like for the panic attack. To get those to swim around the room, it creates a brand new soundscape. It’s dizzying. It helps support the story.
“But sometimes there are places to not play it, for interior there’s no Atmos going on because it’s too distracting and too gimmicky. If it supports the story, I’m all for it.”
Editor Melissa McCoy adds on that she loves seeing the cuts and nearly finished product with all the other aspects. “To go in there and hear the magic on the big speakers, I remember seeing them do some soccer stuff and doing Atmos and feeling that in the room and it was really cool and really special,” she said. “One of the perks of the job I love is getting out of the cutting room and seeing how the cuts live in the beautiful world, with full resolution and sound and music and VFX.”
When McCoy and A.J. Catoline worked on their edit, all they had to work with in the stadium scenes were pre-visualized concepts of how it would look. “When I saw the VFX coming in of the stadium it was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know I was working on this show,’” said McCoy. “Working with just the players in front of a green screen, you’re trying to imagine it, how grand it could be, then to see it… It’s just… Ugh.”
The collaboration and the music
The crew talks about how for some of the music, music supervisor Tony Von Pervieux, composer Tom Howe and editors McCoy and Catoline would all pitch suggestions for what songs could work where, and that they would try out a few different options before showing the edit to Jason Sudeikis and producer/developer Bill Lawrence.
One of the cool things about these Ted Lasso chats was learning that Jason Sudeikis, as the star and creator/developer on the show, was involved in every facet of the production – from figuring out what jokes worked best in the edit, to even helping figure out the music.
One such scenario was for the tenth episode when he thought to use the song “Non je ne regrette rien” by Edith Piaf near the end of the episode. “That seemed like, ‘Oh my God, that’s the perfect Ted Lasso anthem,’” said editor A.J. Catoline. “Regret nothing, be a goldfish. When that fit at the end, that was just a piece of the puzzle and I remember how excited we were.”
“The good thing about music is that with a great show, the music is there to enhance the experience, the emotion,” said music supervisor Tony Von Pervieux. “Whether it’s happy, joyful, sad or whatever. Finding the right song at the right pivotal moments at the end of the show was really fun because it leaves the viewer excited about the next episode or anxious about the next episode.”
“Music is a character on the show, absolutely,” said A.J. Catoline. “You feel Ted Lasso because of the music.”
The first season of Ted Lasso is now streaming on Apple TV+, with the second season of the show premiering on Friday, July 23.