“Fear the Walking Dead,” is set to premiere Sunday on AMC.
The companion series to “The Walking Dead,” “Fear” will be set in the early days of the zombie apocalypse before the undead roamed the earth.
With no comic to base the series on, one would imagine there are a lot of other places in “The Walking Dead” universe to turn to for inspiration. Places like the Telltale video game series, and other book series from “Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman. But instead, “Fear the Walking Dead” showrunner Dave Erickson told Tech Insider there were a few movies in particular he checked out while doing research.
“I actually watched and re-watched ‘Apocalypse Now’ while I was writing the pilot and then as we got into the season,” Erickson told Tech Insider. “There’s something in the surreal juxtapositions of the everyday with the horror of the apocalypse that I just find interesting and there’s a lot of thematics in ‘Apocalypse’ that will play out over the course of our season one, and over the course of the series.”
“In terms of tone, we wanted this [Fear] to be about the shark you don’t see,” he continued. “We wanted it to be about the dread and the anticipation and the fear of what was to come and also this sense of … hopefully the audience is leaning in because they know more than our characters do, and that to me is fun as well.”
Erickson also says “28 Days Later” was among the films he watched. Then when they hired Adam Davidson (“Hell on Wheels”) to direct the pilot episode, the two talked about a few other films to take into consideration.
“One of the films that Adam suggested I see was Phil Kaufman’s ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers,’” explained Erickson. “It’s a bit dated, but it does very much have that sense of paranoia — what the hell is going on — and there’s a core group of people who can see this coming, but they might be crazy and they’re not being listened to. All of that, I found psychologically was interesting and it’s something we wanted to explore in the pilot and over the course of the first season.”
Another big influence on “Fear the Walking Dead” was “Five Year,” a series Erickson worked on with “The Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman prior to 2010 for Sony Pictures television, before the original AMC show was in the works.
“It was a pre-apocalyptic family drama,” said Erickson of “Five Year.” “Basically, it’s the meteor is coming, you have five years to live, what do you do in the time you have left? I had not read the [Walking Dead] comic at that point.”
Though Erickson says he wrote a pilot for the series, it never came to be. However, some of the ideas for that original series wound up inspiring and laying some of the foundation for “Fear.”
“The challenge in that pilot [‘Five Year’] … it is very much about the family dynamic because the threat is there, you know that. It’s more aggressive obviously in ‘The Walking Dead’ than in ‘Fear’ because the threat is made manifest fairly quickly, and there are zombies that are trying to kill you. Whereas, we were doing the show which was a little more … it was slightly more esoteric because you know the end of the world is coming but it’s not like there’s a meteor attacking you every single episode,” said Erickson. “But yeah … the confusion, the complication, the heartache that goes with any family dynamic. I think, yeah, very much there are elements that are in that pilot that I think we used in the pilot and in the show [‘Fear the Walking Dead’].”
In fact, if you tune into the premiere episode of “Fear” Sunday, you’ll be able to catch a nod to “Five Year” in the episode. I can’t tell you exactly what it is yet, but keep your eyes on a classroom chalkboard that appears in the premiere.
“Fear the Walking Dead” premieres Sunday, August 23 at 9 p.m. on AMC.
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