Alter grad’s TV series, ‘Blood & Treasure’ finds new home on Paramount+

Stephen Scaia is co-creator, producer and director of the show that started on CBS.



The coronavirus shutdowns were rough on film and television productions but it’s hard to stop creative people like Alter High School graduate Stephen Scaia. As the co-creator, producer and director of “Blood & Treasure,” he and his crew safely completed the second season of the globetrotting action-adventure series during the pandemic.

The program, which aired on CBS in 2019, has moved to Paramount+. The new season premieres with two episodes today. “Blood & Treasure” will air weekly for the rest of the 13-episode run.

“Once we came back from lockdown, we were able to finish our entire run without a COVID outbreak during production,” Scaia said. “We were shooting when ‘Mission Impossible’ was trying to shoot as well. Because we’re all part of the same Paramount family now, our COVID plan was apparently good enough that we gave it to them so they could finish their shoot.

“That was really interesting,” he continued. “We, obviously, aren’t a production as big as ‘Mission Impossible’ but we have so much of the same overlap in terms of locations and things like that.”



Sidelined in Thailand

Scaia and the rest of the crew were shooting a Season Two episode on location when production was halted in March 2020.

“We had been in Thailand a couple of months, and we had seven days left on our schedule there,” Scaia said. “Then, the plan was to move on to Italy and shoot there. That was going to be a much smaller shoot. We started in Montreal, then moved to Thailand and we were going to finish with 14 days in Italy.

“We were about to start the second day of a location we had already shot the day before,” he continued. “That’s when we were shut down by CBS and everyone came racing home.”

After six months of rewrites and remote post-production, the team behind “Blood & Treasure” resumed production overseas.

“We started the process of going back to production right around Labor Day,” Scaia said. “We actually started filming around October. It was really interesting because CBS let us go to Italy to finish our shoot there, but we couldn’t go to Thailand to finish the work there. So, we had to take those seven days, including the day we already shot at that one location in Thailand, and move it all to Italy.”

Off the lot

“Blood & “Treasure” is not filmed on a soundstage. As a globetrotting action series, shooting on location is crucial.

“We didn’t have one of those LED screens they have on the ‘Star Wars’ shows,” Scaia said. “Every time you see us standing in front of a thing, we’re really standing in front of that thing. The very first scene of the second season is in front of Michelangelo’s ‘David.’ We really went to Florence to shoot that.

“We worked for a year to get permission from the Accademia (Gallery) to shoot in the actual location, standing in front of David,” he continued. “To me, that is part of the DNA of the show.”

That authenticity helps sell the action and drama.

“There’s just something about the show because it feels real,” Scaia said. “The sweat is real. The dirt is actual, tangible dirt, it’s not on a soundstage. I’m really proud of how deep the show feels. It’s a movie every week and people would be surprised at the budget we did it on. We really made it work by going to real locations.

“I’m really proud because the show is bigger and more exciting than last season,” he continued. “I’m also really proud of our team for doing it during COVID. Just knowing how difficult it is to make TV but then how difficult it is to make TV during COVID, it really does take it to a different level.”



Expanding his resume

Scaia, who grew up in Centerville, graduated from Emerson College with a film degree. He earned valuable on-the-job training during two seasons as a production assistant on “The West Wing.” His writing and producing credits include the CBS series “Jericho” and “Limitless” and Fox’s “Human Target.” Season two of “Blood & Treasure” was his first opportunity to direct, which he did at the urging of stuntman-turned-director Steve Boyum.

“I directed some second unit last season,” Scaia said. “I designed one of the chase scenes. Then, going into season two, Steve Boyum, who is kind of my mentor for directing, said, ‘I think you’re ready to direct a couple of episodes.’

“It was great to get that opportunity,” he continued. “Then, when COVID happened, I got the opportunity to direct two other episodes. I actually ended up directing one of them with Steve, which was a really great opportunity.”

Scaia felt at home directing.

“I had the full experience,” he said. “I wasn’t just writing it and producing it. I was the guy who would come to set every morning and they would present me with the problems of the day that needed solving. The thing I really liked the most about TV and movies is just how creative it is and how creative you get with the problem-solving.”

A new home

Scaia is optimistic about “Blood & Treasure” moving to Paramount+.

“I like that we’re part of a thing that seems to have a built-in audience,” he said. “When I tell people we moved to Paramount+, they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, I subscribe to that,’ versus, ‘What’s Paramount+?’ That’s really good because in this day and age, it’s not about the billboards or commercials during basketball.”

Today, it’s about the right placement on the streaming platform’s homepage.

“Your whole life changes if you’re a TV show that pops up right when you turn on an app,” Scaia said. “If it says, ‘Hey, do you want to watch this?’ The next thing you know, you’re a show like ‘Manifest’ that nobody watched on NBC. Then, when it showed up on Netflix, they put it on the banner and people just clicked on it.

“People found the show that way and now it survives,” Scaia added. “That’s exciting for creators who want to feel like their show will last.”

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