The Banishment scene of 10’s Traitors is the climax of every episode, where ‘Faithful’ contestants hope to eliminate the sinister double-agents amongst them, in scenes reminiscent of a grand whodunnit.
Filmed at the historic Robertson Hotel in the NSW Southern Highlands, producers have transformed facilities built in 1924, to their very own Banishment room.
Host Rodger Corser explains how the smoke and mirrors of television have matched the art deco style, while still allowing for cameras and lighting.
“The Banishment Room is a mini ballroom, which is all white walls usually,” he reveals.
“The Art department bring in the fireplace that I stand in front of. That’s all set. All the wood cladding, all the bookshelves with sculptures and busts has all been put in there.
“There’s even a Traitors symbol, where they cut out the middle for a lens. It’s very hard to see. There’s some other spots (with cameras) poking through the stained glass with guys behind behind cloaks. They just sort of cut them out of the camera angles so you don’t see them.
“But there’s seven cameras at any one time mostly on the contestants, because you only get one shot at their at their reactions. We will never ask them to sort of recreate something.
“I’ll come back and do a mini monologue in a tight shot. But they don’t waste the camera angles on me because I can do a tight shot without (the contestants).”
Robertson Ballroom: Before / After
The hotel was originally built in 1924, opening as Hotel Robertson. It won the “Most luxurious hotel in the Commonwealth” award in 1925, and was the first hotel in Australia to have phone lines to every room.
Over the decades it has been used as exclusive country club, a WAAAF training base, a hospice for WWII returned pilots, a Franciscan friary and seminary, a school, a haven to injured wildlife and was used for the movie Babe. These days it is a popular wedding and accommondation venue.
“It’s a nice place. There’s open fireplaces everywhere, it’s kind of like an English countryside,” Corser continues.
“A lot of the rooms have ensuites, or you can stay in a dorm room with a shared bathroom down the hall.”
On The Traitors, Corser works cloesly with writer Matt Lovkis on his material but works without autocue.
“We’re madly writing before the Breakfast or the Banishment. Matt will offer up a script, and I’ll cull or add different things, like some jokes. We’re all in one green room, a big collective of hair & make-up, writers, myself and the producers,” he states.
“I’ll say, ‘Give me 15 minutes’ and I’ll learn a page of dialogue and then deliver it. But I’ve really got to get it in one go because you don’t get a second take. They’re not trained actors, and we want their initial reaction.”
Shooting of the Banishment scenes takes longer at the start of the season, Corser explains.
“If you have 18 or 19 people, and everyone wants to have a say, the vote does take longer. But they’ll become quicker. When we get down to the nitty gritty, and there’s only 4 or 5 people left… we still want to make a good five minute segment of telly and some people are playing under the radar, so we have to really encourage them to bring up some more theories. We kind of sit there until we get enough material.
“It’s easier to do the lighter moments at the beginning of the series because everyone’s having a great time and it’s a big party atmosphere. But when people are getting close to that final prize, they all start to take things very seriously.”
The Traitors continues 7:30pm Sundays & Mondays on 10.