Hunters - Nathan Phillips

Is developing a show for Syfy different than being hired by Syfy to work on 12 Monkeys?

Yes, it was. I had actually developed the show with Syfy for several years, and then I was actually asked to do 12 Monkeys during that process. When I did 12 Monkeys for the first season, probably because of the success in production of 12 Monkeys, they then ordered Hunters.

You’re shooting in Australia, but is Hunters set in a big American city?

It’s set in Baltimore and around D.C. but Hunters are an international terrorist organization, so we do episodes that are in Afghanistan. We go to Colombia. We go to Turkey. We go to visit a couple of other places that Melbourne plays in the show pretty successfully.

Why Baltimore?

I wanted to do an urban city near DC that was a little bit gritty. Baltimore’s been in the news lately and it was just an interesting place that, other than The Wire, is not seen too much on TV. I have to say, as you might imagine shooting in Australia, it was difficult to get [accurate]. It’s not the show’s strongest point, depicting Baltimore.

How many of the first 13 did you write?

Let me see, one, two, I think I wrote three and a half. I had a very small team of maybe four or five people. One guy came from Orphan Black which was pretty exciting, a writer named Tony Elliott. I had a small team and we wrote them all up front which is kind of different from American television. It’s kind of the way European television is done. I’ve been in the TV business for 20 years so that was a different experience, which was cool. It allows more lead time so when you’re building stuff, you’re building pods, spaceships, alien creatures, it really gives you the lead time to develop it.

The new X-Files showed there’s a much bigger contingent of people who are open to the idea of alien invasions in real life. Does that change the way you approach a show like Hunters?

I’m a conspiracy theorist and I’m convinced, I know the government is hiding a ton of shit from us. I think post ’70s, post ’80s, post the CIA crack cocaine conspiracy, I think we’re living in an age where people acknowledge that there are secrets being kept from us by our government. I think maybe the progression from X-Files is yeah, they’re lying to us. As opposed to: They’re lying to us?

Are these aliens related to the ones who arrived at Roswell?

No, I wouldn’t do that. Basically I said I don’t want to take any of the things you think you’re going to see in an alien show. I’m not going to have lights in the sky. I’m not going to have Roswell. I’m not going to have the conventions and what you think you’re going to see in aliens because it would feel like you know that show. This has a completely different history, completely different iconography, completely different imagery than other alien shows because I just didn’t want to repeat what’s been done.

Is this season a closed arc?

Part of it is contained in the terms of one cell that the good guys are chasing. One chapter will close and another one open. I’m already starting to think about season two. I know the studio and network are already starting to think about season two and going back to Melbourne, so open ended enough to allow lots of good stories for season two.

What was involved in designing the alien biology?

It was really, really cool. I keep mentioning Seth Horowitz. He’s actually a neurophysiologist by trade. We would talk about here’s the planet, here’s the body. There’s a scene in 101 where we dig into the anatomy of the Hunter. Once we had that, we worked with Greg Nicotero from Walking Dead. He did the initial sketch of the native Hunter. We also did sketches of what human form Hunters looked like inside and we really just built it from the inside out, as opposed to just this is what it looks like on the outside. So it was a really exciting and evolved process from scientist to artist. We had a sketch artist and then onto Justin Dix, who’s sort of our Greg Nicotero. We had an amazing prosthetics studio in Melbourne. Just a huge room where they were building all the Hunters. It was so incredible. We did mostly practical effects. That’s a tradition that Gale comes from and we really believed it would give the show a grounded feel.

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