Defiance stars Grant Bowler, Jaime Murray, Julie Benz, Jesse Rath, Stephanie Leonidas and Tony Curran and video game producer Rob Hill discuss the hit sci-fi series in this exclusive interview from San Diego Comic-Con 2013 by david j. moore....
The videogame, which launched two weeks before the first episode of the series, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, which inherently compliments the television series in every aspect. Rob Hill, the senior producer at Trion Worlds, talks about making sure that the balance between the game and the show is equally complimentary and avoids being gimmicky: "It was a long conversation we had. We at Trion didn't know shows. We do games. SyFy didn't know what made a good game. We had to learn each other's language. What's important on both sides is taking those rules and adapting them. We knew before what the show really was that we wanted to do this transmedia thing. That was already taken care of. What we needed to do was try to figure out what the universe was really about and what kinds of stories we were going to try to tell - from the game side and the show's side. What makes a great show, what makes a great game, what do we need on both sides? We wanted to make sure that one wasn't being sacrificed for the other." Hill goes on to elaborate: "Once we developed the universe pitch, then it was presented to the network by both of us. They loved it, and then we had to develop the beats of the show, and then we started to develop the beats on our side."
The second season of Defiance promises to deliver whole new plot lines and intrigues. Rob Hill, who brings up the lull in between seasons of the show, addresses that the game is a viable option to continue the story. "We have this opportunity now where the show is stopped and the universe is continuing on in the game, which will help fire off season two. The characters - since they are on off-season - will show up in the game and will help inform what will happen in the next season." On the topic of the second season, Jaime Murray, who plays the Lady Macbeth-fashioned alien character Stathma Tarr, is enthusiastic about the prospect of returning to the vast science fictional world of Defiance: "I'm really excited about the world we've created. How intricate it is. What I love about it is that we've constructed such a complex and interesting universe. It's so fantastical, and really it's just a backdrop for really relatable themes that we're able to examine." When pressed on what themes the show touches on, she answers, "There's the theme of family, obviously, but the Tarr family is a very strange, weird, and wonderful family. We're able to look at gender issues, we're able to look at feminine issues and race issues. We're allowed to look at the double standards of race issues and how they're played, how ingrained in the underbelly of society they are. I think those themes that are bubbling away at our own society, we're able to look at head-on in the sci-fi genre. It gives you a fresh perspective." Julie Benz, who plays Amanda Rosewater, the Mayor of Defiance, chips in her excitement about starting work on the second season, "I'm looking forward to seeing a new Amanda. What her journey is going to be. At the end of season one, they stripped away everything from her character. At the beginning of season two, we're all starting over. It'll be great to see them at that point and how they got there." She also points out that "Defiance has something for everyone," and that "it's the first show in many years that has brought aliens back to T.V." Adding to that, she says, "I think it appeals to a great cross-section of people. There are strong and complex female characters on the show. And some of them are half-naked! So why not, right?" she laughs.
The post-apocalyptic genre is seemingly all over the place these days. Every week a new apocalyptic blockbuster is released to cinemas, and more than a few shows on contemporary television feature apocalyptic themes. Rob Hill explains why Defiance is set in the time and place that it's in: "We went this way specifically because we really couldn't do spaceships and stuff like that because it doesn't sell. We wanted to do something that felt familiar, but alien at the same time. We didn't want to do Mad Max or something like that, so we came up with the idea of terra forming, which was a combination of the familiar and the bizarre. It's not a straight apocalyptic universe like Mad Max. It's not a world that's dying or dead ... it's actually in a period of regrowth. We didn't want desolation and desecration." Grant Bowler, who plays a Mad Max-type hero in the show, is enamored with the "used future" look and feel of the show. "I love it so much it's crazy," he says, "I love the character. I've never seen this world. It's arguably an iconic western show, and it's also arguably an iconic post-apocalyptic show. We're being chased around by high tech steampunk-looking aliens in post-apocalyptic automobiles. Right? There's no part of the show where it stops and goes, Okay, we've finished the western part of the show, now we're going to do the science fiction part, okay, now hold on - we're going to do the apocalyptic part of the show. It's seamless. I've never seen that." The movie Cowboys and Aliens starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig is brought up, and Bowler exclaims, "God knows I love Cowboys and Aliens - a fantastic movie - but the first half was the western half and the second half was sci-fi. And never the two shall meet. What I love about our show is that you can't see the lines. We've got a western theme, but you never notice it. The mythology is so well executed that you just follow the storyline."
As season two of Defiance prepares to produce new episodes this summer, fans can sit back and enjoy the videogame or bide their time while watching the first season all over again. What makes this show and its companion game so compelling is that as its universe continues to open up and allow viewers and players to enjoy a sense of exploration, the themes within them are still universal and relatable. While the post-apocalyptic genre perpetually renews itself through film, literature, and videogames, consumers have a viable and safe bet with Defiance.
david j. moore is a
contributing writer to Fangoria, FilmFax, Lunchmeat and VideoScope
Magazines. His book WORLD GONE WILD: A SURVIVOR'S GUIDE TO
POST-APOCALYPTIC MOVIES will be published in late 2013.