Chiller TV Online
Did you remember to check out the online-only prequel webisode for Chiller TV’s Remains entitled Remains: Road to Reno that premiered today? If not, be sure to head over to Chillertv.com and do so. But first how about a quick Q&A with executive producer Steve Niles, who also wrote the graphic novel Remains is based on? In addition, we have two new promo videos to share!
Niles recently conducted a roundtable conference call in advance of Remains‘ December 16th premiere on Chiller TV, and the network was kind enough to share the transcript with us. Read on for a look inside the mind of this creative genius as he discusses his role in the production, what he looks for when someone approaches him about adapting his work, his preference between vampires and zombies, and lots more!
Reporter: Were you involved in this production beyond creating the source material?
Steve Niles: You know, they kept me very close to it. The best way to describe my role is I supervised a lot. They ran the script by me, and I did set visits and was in constant contact with the folks at Chiller and Synthetic, and they kept me involved at every stage of approving makeup and the script. But part of it is these guys really knew what they were doing, and I felt perfectly comfortable being on the coast while they were working on it. But they kept me involved quite a bit, and I really appreciate that.
Reporter: You mentioned you had done some site visits during the production. Any particular visit or any particular day or scene being shot really stick out for you?
Niles: I’ve noticed when you’re on a Hollywood set it’s like, “Boy, they spend about nine hours shooting about 15 seconds.” It can get really tedious. But these guys moved in like a strike team. They came in and had this hotel. They had the scenes set up in the various rooms they were going to go to, and we watched them go room to room. And it wasn’t Ed Wood reckless. They knew what they wanted. They had everything set up and spread out so they didn’t have to break everything down and re-set up. They went scene to scene to scene. It was incredible.
Reporter: What were some of the biggest production challenges in bringing the Remains comic book in front of the camera and then on to the small screen?
Niles: Well, the biggest thing is in a comic book you have no budget. I can do anything I want. If I want 10,000 bikers coming out of the horizon, I can do that. The artist will be mad at me, but it’s not a budget issue. So the first thing we had to do was go through the comic, and there were a few set pieces that would have just been impossible. There is a biker scene in there that would have cost too much money because it literally is hundreds and hundreds of bikers approaching through the desert not realizing that they’re about to hit an entire system of wires, and they all get sliced like deli sandwiches as they ride into the city. The budget to shoot that was just way over the top so we had to come up with other ways to do it. I’m really happy with Synthetic Cinema because the budget was a TV movie budget, and I am absolutely shocked at how much of the comic that they actually got on film.
Reporter: As an author what do you look for when you’re approached by someone who wants to turn a graphic novel of yours into a movie or a series?
Niles: Honestly, enthusiasm for the material means more to me than a big option. A good example is what happened with 30 Days of Night. When we were selling 30 Days, it turned into a bidding war, and we had to choose between three studios. They all had a lot of money, but I went with the one that had Sam Raimi attached to it because I know Sam knows horror, and that was very similar with the guys from Remains. Andrew (Gernhard, producer) reached out to me from Synthetic Cinema, and he was very upfront about it. He was like, “We’re a small company and we’ve just done these things, but we really love this material,” and he understood Remains, too, which was really important to me. They wanted to capture the spirit of it, and that’s shockingly rare. So their enthusiasm is what really got my attention.
Reporter: How does it feel to have the first original movie on Chiller?
Niles: This is really exciting for me because I really like TV movies. I grew up with TV movies. Dan Curtis is a hero of mine; he wrote the “Night Stalker” shows and “Dark Shadows.” He was behind so many of these great things, and he used to do all these great TV movies. And also Richard Matheson used to write tons of ABC Movies of the Week during the 70s, and they’re really wonderful. Pretty much exactly this kind of stuff. They were Richard Matheson short stories turned into movies for TV so I just have this really special affection. And I’m really excited and I’m excited about the movie, too, because I think it really came out fun.
Reporter: For those who haven’t read the Remains graphic novels, what separates your zombies from anything else that we’ve seen?
Niles: That’s a big thing I wanted to talk about because “The Walking Dead” is so popular, and that’s sort of the current version of what people think zombies are. I sat down to write Remains when “The Walking Dead” was just starting to get strong as a comic and Land of the Dead was out. There was just sort of a zombie surge building. And when I sat down to do Remains, I wanted to do something different, and I wanted to do something that was a little bit bigger than the–do they run or do they shamble? And for that it seemed like I had to come up with something that could put the audience and the characters on edge because, now especially, everybody knows how to deal with zombies. You board up in the house and you wait it out. You shoot them as they come to you. But in Remains that doesn’t necessarily work because of the event that creates these zombies. There’s actually two different kinds, and one of them was slightly more advanced, and they’re eating the others and they’re evolving. So in Remains you can never sit back in your boarded up house and be comfortable because the zombies will sooner or later figure out how to either climb in or pull the boards off. I had a lot of fun with that.
Reporter: Most zombie movies are usually completely post-apocalyptic insofar as we don’t know how it happened. Why did you devise such a specific way to get the ball rolling?
Niles: I hate to give a really simple answer, but in the comic I did it because it was funny. I really wanted to go for the absurdity of the situation. Here we are finally figuring out that we’re going to disarm and it’s Peace Day, and something goes wrong and Peace Day winds up being the end of days. I was going for something a little different because most zombie movies don’t explain it so I wanted to try to explain it. And I needed to because I knew that I was going to try to do this thing with different varying degrees of zombies. There are different ones, depending on who was closer to the event. So that kind of came out of just trying to do something different.
Reporter: What are you more partial to – vampires or zombies?
Niles: That’s a tough one. I have to go with vampires, and let me qualify that…my kind of vampires. Mean, nasty vampires that don’t want to seduce you; they want to take your blood. I’ve been writing them for a long time, I’ve developed an affection for them, and as a writer there’s slightly more you can do with that particular monster. Zombie stories are great for telling stories about humans, oddly enough, while vampires are great for telling stories about vampires because they are technically still human and have brains and lives and emotions and things like that that you can play with. So I’d have to go with vampires.
Reporter: Why do you think zombies have become so popular? What do you think it is about them right now?
Niles: I think horror always reflects our general fears and anxieties in society. And right now, without getting too serious, right now we’re actually afraid of other people. We’re afraid of disease, we’re afraid of being invaded by people who look kind of like us. The way we express those fears is through this mindless zombie hoard that wants to eat us. Our friends and neighbors who want to kill us and eat us. I think zombies are a very, very basic way for us to confront those fears too. Because the reality of it is the real world stuff is so horrifying and zombies are a great way for us to sort of work through those fears. I always feel like horror is a relief and we use it to illustrate what we’re afraid of…and then shoot it in the head.
Remains is written by John Doolan and directed by Colin Theys. It stars Grant Bowler (“True Blood”), Lance Reddick (“Lost”), Tawny Cypress (“Heroes”), and Miko Hughes (Pet Sematary).
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