While "The X-Files" is grabbing headlines for its 2016 revival, SyFy and "The Walking Dead" Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd are adapting Whitley Strieber's "Alien Hunter" novels, attempting to grab their own piece of the alien conspiracy pie. The upcoming TV series, titled "Hunters," follows Flynn Carroll (Nathan Phillips), a decorated FBI agent as he investigates the mysterious disappearance of his wife using a secret government unit assembled to hunt a shadowy group of terrorists who may not be of this earth.
Joining CBR TV's Jonah Weiland in the world famous CBR Tiki Room at New York Comic Con, Hurd, Strieber and co-producer & special effects designer Justin Dix spoke about bringing "Hunters" to Syfy, including what about the material made it an especially good fit for television. Dix also discussed his role in producing the filmmakers to 3D printed props, likening the crew's reaction to "cavemen looking at fire for the first time." Strieber explains the three questions that have guided his life and work and how they are at the very heart of the show, as well as why the series is being filmed in Melbourne.
On why longtime outsider Strieber is now getting his novel adapted into a mainstream TV series:
Whitley Strieber: The world's kind of changing finally. People are finally beginning to open their minds to the idea that things might not be what they seem. They're interested in exploring that in fiction and that's a good place to start because down the road we're gonna find out they really are not what they seem. I can tell you that for sure.
On what attracted Hurd to the material:
Gale Anne Hurd: First of all I think that the book is fascinating, it has interesting characters, and to me that's where you start any good television series. You need fascinating characters. And you need an emotional underpinning that draws you in, so in this case Flynn Carroll who, in his book is a little different, but in our show is an FBI agent. His wife has gone missing and he's trying to find out what happened to her. And she's not been taken by zombies [Laughs] I can assure you of that. But that really draws him into this world of aliens and conspiracies and government cover-ups and so many of the things that I love most about genre fiction.
On using 3D-printed props on the series:
Justin Dix: I've introduced the production to 3D printing, so at first they all thought it was a bit of voodoo magic.
Hurd: Well it is. [Laughter] It's like a microwave and you do these -- you upload these designs and the next morning you've got something.
Dix: Everyone was fascinated. It was like cavemen looking at fire for the first time. To be honest, it was great though because it saves a lot of time and we were living in the world of science fiction while creating science fiction, which is fabulous. And essentially I'm responsible for a lot of the prosthetics and effects as well, my company does them. I got the call to do this job and how could you say no to this producer, basically, with her lineage of work, which is something that's very exciting for me to actually be involved with.
On what Dix's thoughts were reading the material for the first time:
Dix: "This is awesome." I started reading it going, "This is friggin' awesome!" I was reading it, and to be honest it was really, really challenging, the stuff I was reading was challenging, and part of me was going, "How the hell are we gonna do this?" But that's the actual attraction to the project is not playing it safe and essentially doing something that scares you every time. We're still in the middle of filming and we've still got some stuff that I was just talking to [Executive Producer] Natalie [Chaidez] recently about and saying, "This one scares the hell out of me," [Laughter] but it's gonna be great. So far the show has really found its tone and its legs.
On the questions that inform the show and Strieber's work:
I saw one of the episodes. It really speaks to the theme of my work. I was so -- not to say 'creeped out' -- it's intense, it's extremely intense. I think it's one of the best pieces of science fiction I've seen in a long time. The questions of "What is really happening? Why don't we know? Is that dangerous?" Those are the three questions that have underlined my whole life as well as the books, as the "Alien Hunter" books. Those three questions are the core of this show and that's what makes it great.