Fear the Walking Dead showrunner talks ‘denser’ L.A. setting, prequel timeline

Sure, most fans are psyched enough to see what happens next with Rick and the gang in Alexandria — but AMC is putting the finishing touches on a whole new Walking Dead adventure. So, what’s up with the prequel series Fear the Walking Dead?

Showrunner Dave Erickson chatted with Entertainment Weekly about the process of telling the early days of the zombie outbreak, and how the change of venue from rural Georgia to L.A. affects the undead dynamics. We’ve already glimpsed a little bit of the big city vibe when The Walking Dead briefly visited Atlanta, but Erickson said that density of people and buildings is something they hope will set the prequel series apart.

Here’s an excerpt from his comments:

“It’s denser. We’ve shot primarily in east L.A. and whenever we’re outside in that environment and you look out and see the hills that are stacked with houses, and you see the freeways — just the sense of density and population for the audience in the pilot and the first few episodes — they’re a little bit ahead of our characters. They know what’s coming and there’s that anticipation and anxiety of waiting for our family to catch up and realize what’s going on, learn the rules, learn how to survive.

I think that any time we have this sort of vibrancy and chaos of the city and we’re reminded of the fact that there are millions and millions of people surrounding our characters, and there’s that dread of, ‘Holy s—, a bulk of those people are about to die.’ For us, it was always about the shark you don’t see in the beginning of the show, and it was trying to understand something very wrong is happening and what is it? There’s a level of paranoia, there’s a level of anxiety, there’s a very disquieting feeling initially. And we have walkers and we play to the some of the beautiful tropes of the genre, but there’s a certain psychological tension that we have in the beginning.”

Erickson also talked about the challenges of telling an interesting story when the entire audience is pretty much a few years ahead of the characters. One thing they plan to do is show off the freshest zombies in the franchise’s history, while also staying true to the years of mythology already established in the mothership series:

“We’re living under the same mythological umbrella, so we have to follow the rules that [Robert Kirkman] laid out in the comic and in the show. So at any time if we’re in danger of veering or playing at something that’s not been established in the original, he’s all over that. We have the benefit of working with the executive producing team of the original show, so we’ve got Robert, Dave Alpert, Gale Anne Hurd, and Greg Nicotero. So there’s enough guidance. It’s a different look for the walkers, and Greg Nicotero was very hands-on in defining the look of our fresher zombies, for lack of a better word. We’ve decided not to veer from the rules of the original, just because I think what Robert has done works, and there’s no reason to push that particular envelope.”

To go along with the new intel, the network has also dropped a new behind-the-scenes featurette showing off some fresh footage from Fear. It’s easy to see how L.A. brings a more vibrant vibe, while still working in the foreboding we know and love.

Fear the Walking Dead premieres in August.

(Via Entertainment Weekly, AMC)

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