Looking back at season 1 of Outlander it is quite obvious that this was probably a fairly difficult production to complete with several tough decisions made along the way. Here is my list of the most prominent ones.
1. Scottish Weather
The weather in Scotland is notorious worldwide for its “four seasons in one day” and filming during fall and winter surely just added extra hardships. The cast and crew had to deal with a lot of raining, cold, mud and everything in between that.
2. No production Studio
When the Outlander production team researched prior to starting up they found that they themselves had to build a production studio from scratch since nothing appropriate existed in Scotland at the time. They settled for an abandoned warehouse in Cumbernault with more than enough space for this extensive show.
3. Amazing Costumes Required
Costume designer Terry Dresbach has overseen the creation of an incredible amount of different costumes for season 1. Approximately 7-800 costumes hand-made. Just think of the amount of buttons to be sewn on! They have calculated that the making of Claire’s wedding dress would have taken one person in the area of 3000 hours to make. A lot of effort put into making costumes as authentic as possible and boy did it pay off.
4. No Standing Set
Because of the fact that the Outlander story is constantly moving the crew continually had to create and build new sets instead of having a home-base standing set to return to like for instance if Castle Leoch had been the place most of the story took place then they could have reused many sets. This was essentially a huge logistical problem with all the different materials needed.
5. Filming an Adaptation
According to Ronald Moore it is in many ways more difficult to adopt a fixed popular story to TV instead of just writing something from scratch. When a scene doesn’t work you can’t just discard it and write something else because it is often essential to the overall storyline. Having to decide what to keep and what to change is not at all easy and ultimately when you have a built in fan base you can’t satisfy everyone.
6. Learning Gaelic
All of the more prominent Highland actors had to learn Gaelic for the show. This was accomplished by hiring a Gaelic expert with whom the actors rehearsed until they could deliver their lines. No little effort especially for Graham McTavish who had several long Gaelic speeches.
7. Filming a First Person Narrative
The fact that this was a first person narrative meant that Caitriona Balfe, who plays Claire, is present in almost every scene, so she had a much bigger workload than the other actors. This is grueling and consequently Ronald Moore worried a lot that she might get sick or at some point call it quits and thus stall the whole production.
8. Potential of Very Graphic Scenes
Tough decisions had to be made regarding how much violence and cruelty to actually show especially in the last two episodes. It was important to not make people shy away from the show but at the same time there is also a very thin line between showing too much and not showing enough.
9. Meeting the Budget
Although Outlander has a million dollar budget there were scenes from the book that were simply too expensive to include. The water horse and the cave/hot spring scenes come to mind and many book lovers have missed those scenes, but it is essentially a question of making budget ends meet while still getting the story right.
10. A Very Long Production Time
Since Outlander season 1 was essentially like making ten movies it is no wonder that the production of it took so long and with a long break in the middle, but to many fans this was just an excruciatingly long time to wait – the phrase Droughtlander comes to mind. Luckily most Outlander fans are very loyal and stayed with the show. Right now fans are suffering an even longer period of Droughtlander as we wait for season 2 to air sometime this spring. Thank God for social media and Internet to help still the need for an Outlander fix.