As October begins, and the witching hour is upon us, scary stories are at a plenty … but how are any of them true?
Well look no further my fact seekers, as Lore, which premieres on Amazon Prime on Friday October 13, is here to scare you good with history and facts on its side.
The six-part series, which started out and continues as a mega popular podcast created by Aaron Mahnke, is anthology horror at its finest. It chills you to the bone while showing that sometimes fact is scarier than fiction.
Like any good anthology, Lore will feature a plethora of talented actors, with a new, distinct cast headlining each episode. However, it takes a strong production team to make a series run, and no one runs a stronger team than Gale Anne Hurd.
Hurd has been a writer, and producer on such “small” properties such as: Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, The Walking Dead, Aliens, Armageddon, The Incredible Hulk, and Fear the Walking Dead. So yes, all jokes aside, Lore scored a major coup when Hurd came on board.
Pop Break sat down with Hurd to talk about how how she discovered Lore, the work she put into it, and her love of horror.
How do you pick your projects?
They speak to me honestly. You only have so much time to tell new and interesting stories, so I didn’t want to repeat yourself. So in this case it was being over 60 and doing something brand new and original, and combing mixed media (animation, archival footage, etc.). To be able innovate when you’re considered “over the hill” is one of the most exciting things I can imagine.
At what point did you come to development?
From the beginning. Brett-Patrick Jenkins, his company is with Ben Silverman and Howard Owens, and they optioned the material. Then they came to my company [Valhalla], and we had already listened to the podcast. So we got involved from the very beginning. We reached out to Glen Morgan (X-Files, Willard), but we found out through Aaron Mahnke, that Glen had taken Aaron out to lunch to Musso & Franks when Aaron was in Los Angeles. So that was actually incredibly quick to find a show runner. Then it was who was going to bring the other elements to life. That’s when we hired Mark Ranucci and John Halprin to oversee the animation, and non-scripted aspect.
What attracted you to the source material?
First off, I’m a huge non-fiction fan. So to take a vacation from what I do from a living, I read non-fiction. I guess now I can’t read anything (laughs). I also enjoy historical non-fiction.
So the fact that these are stories all based truth, and you know my obvious fascination with horror, this seemed like the perfect combination of finding out what are some of the origins of vampires, and werewolves, and the legends the horror community has seen onscreen for so many years. Now it’s on television. They’re really scary because they’re stories created by people trying to figure things they couldn’t understand … and some people died because of it. Some very innocent people came to very deadly ends due to misunderstanding.
Do you yourself believe in the supernatural?
Oh yes, oh my God yes.
Has there been an encounter or incident you’ve had that made you believe?
Oh, there’s so many. The only thing I haven’t encountered is a vampire or werewolf. When I was living in England I saw a ghostly image. I did not know the history of the place was staying nor did I know that that image was associated with a haunting story tied to that place.
What are the challenges of taking a podcast and turning it into a television show?
The challenges are to come up with a format that will work for any possible podcast adaptation. This is why we came up with animation. Like with “The Beast Within” you can’t go back to the 1500s and find video — it’s only paintings or engravings. So that really enabled us to draw upon the animation.
We used archival material to talk about animal magnetism. Then the scripted aspect we knew we wanted to do from the very beginning. The basis for all these stories are people we want the audience to care about, and engage with. We want them to experience wha was happening through them. You can’t do that by doing man on the street interviews, or going to crime labs and talk to people. Every episode was scripted just like they unfold.
Do you think because this was an anthology series you were able to get a different pool of actors to star in this as opposed to this being a traditional narrative series with say 13 episodes?
We shot these episodes between two and four days. When the actors showed up they needed to be ready to go. We had no time to waste, and I think they all did an absolutely fantastic job. Unlike in a scripted series everything was brand new. All of the hair, make-up, wardrobe, and sets were new. There was nothing we could use from a previous episode. We were constantly preparing for a brand new epic as we were filming.
Is there any episode that particularly got to you?
“Black Stockings” as a woman especially. And to think there are people who still think that way to this day. It’s really unnerving.
You could really tell how Holland Roden was affected by the scene, and how the character was.
“I am me. You may not like how I act, but I have not been taken over by a changeling.” So to me that really got me.
What about the choice to center the production in Atlanta? Was that choice due to the infrastructure you built through The Walking Dead?
Yes. I know where to source things. One of the episodes was directed by Michael Satrazemis who directed one of my favorite episodes of The Walking Dead, ‘The Grove.’ So he directed that. Stephen Campbell who is our DP on The Walking Dead, was the DP on many of these episodes. I was able to bring a lot of people I’d worked with before to work on this.
Do you have a dream episode you haven’t shot yet?
Yes. There’s one really freaky one about a heart transplant [Episode 20, ‘Homestead’], which is really, really unnerving and disturbing.
Was it a different experience working with an online streaming service as opposed to a traditional network?
The difference here is I’ve never worked with the alternative, unscripted side so that was different. It was a learning process for me. We have people who are expert in the unscripted, while I have more experience in the scripted world. Essentially we taught each other.
Is the industry ready for anthologies?
I certainly hope so. Growing up whether it was The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone — those were my favorites, and shaped me as a lover of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. If people embrace this show like I hope they do – not only will we be able to make more of this, but people bring different visions to life.
Catch Gale Ann Hurd’s production on Lore which premieres today on Amazon Prime.