Published: Friday, 26 October 2018 | Written by SciFi Vision
Before being given a tour of the Midnight, Texas set in Albuquerque on day two, 9/13, SciFi Vision, along with other journalists, particiated in a press conference style interview with Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder. The two producers serve as the new showrunners for season two.
Charmelo and Snyder talked about how the series will be different this season, what was taken from the books, what's coming for the characters in season two, and more.
When you guys got this assignment, what was the first thing they told you you were tasked with doing?
NICOLE SNYDER: Making it soapier.
ERIC CHARMELO: Sexier, salacious –
NICOLE SNYDER: Scarier.
ERIC CHARMELO: More along the lines of True Blood; those were the marching orders.
What do you think are some of the biggest changes you have made when you look back at the first season? What have you done so far?
ERIC CHARMELO: It feels more serialized for sure. Last season, I think the show was trying to find its legs, and there were monster of the week elements, and we still have that peripherally, but the relationships take front and center this season.
I know that you came in and took over as showrunners, and the end of season one ended on a cliffhanger. So after losing characters and actually having characters come back, did that change anything about the direction for season two?
NICOLESNYDER: Sure, it opened us up to new characters and new storylines. We still wanted to service the things that were set up at the end of the season, like the trickling of demon residue from Manfred's ear and the hotel being opened, but it really allowed us to brainstorm how to bring new people into Midnight and new big bads. It gave us a little more room.
Are you setting up anything in season two for a possible season three?
ERIC CHARMELO: Oh yes. We're actually shooting that today.
Would that be the ending or basically throughout the season, throughout the episodes?
ERIC CHARMELO: I mean, after we kind of vanquish the big bad of this season, we kind of set up something for next season and set up storylines for each of the characters for potential directions for next season.
NICOLE SNYDER: Well...It just doesn't go very well for anyone. [laughs]
ERIC CHARMELO: The Midnighters have the worst luck on the planet, let's just put it that way.
How integral is the first season compared to season two? Can you come in fresh and -
ERIC CHARMELO: I think you can come in fresh, one hundred percent. Like Nicole said, we inherited two hanging chads from last season. Manfred being possessed by six demons in order to vanquish Colconnar, that will have some residual effect this season, but you didn't have to watch last season in order to understand what's happening. And then also the opening of the hotel, which was taken from the book, but we expanded on it for this season.
What is it that you have taken, perhaps like little nuggets from the book, because there is a trilogy? How is it taking things like that and then either expanding upon them or changing them slightly, because the hotel storyline is quite different from the books?
NICOLE SNYDER: We got a lot of inspiration from the books in terms of characters and in terms of tone and atmosphere, but just the idea of a hotel opening is about all we took from the books. We really just wanted to be creative and be out there. We felt we used a lot of story from the books in season one, and we just started from scratch.
ERIC CHARMELO: In the finale last year we hinted that there are ghosts in the hotel, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. They wish it was only haunted. So, there's a lot more going on.
NICOLE SNYDER: It was important to us too to kind of subvert expectations. It's like Eric said: you set it up; you think it’s a haunting, but it's so much worse that you think. As you say, they only wish they were ghosts.
When Charlaine [Harris] sees your variations, does she go “Wow, why didn't I think of that?” Do you hear from her?
NICOLE SNYDER: She gave us her blessing. She was really lovely. We met her over the phone in March or April, and she just said, “I do the books; you do the show. I enjoy watching; have at it.”
ERIC CHARMELO: Yeah, she was really great. She said, “It’s your baby now,” and she really didn't want to know anything about the season, because she wanted to watch as a fan.
As you push the envelope, do you find the network is supportive of getting more graphic and daring? Because you look at a show like Hannibal and everyone who's watching goes, “Oh my god, how did they do that on TV?”
ERIC CHARMELO: Yeah, it was a marching order, and I think we delivered in spades. We really pushed the envelope just in regards to relationships and sex appeal and gore and scares. So, it's a mixed bag, but it's pretty risqué.
How do you feel about moving to Friday nights?
ERIC CHARMELO: I think Friday nights is great for genre programming. Honestly, I think it’s a perfect fit for us, so we're excited.
There was the whole Grimm thing too and then The X-Files used to be on Friday nights too, so it is absolutely perfect.
One of the questions I asked you at Comic-Con, it sounds to me your answer was not consistent to what you are doing now, and it’s a good thing, because it looks to me like you have this nice teasing thing, but it’s leading to something else, so maybe have you got that mapped out, season three? Because clearly we want to see season three; you don’t have to ask us.
ERIC CHARMELO: I think we certainly wrap up season two in a very satisfying way and put that to bed, so to speak.
And we just kind of open up a whole new can of worms for season three by the end of episode nine of season two. So, you'll definitely get a clear direction in regards to where the show is going in the finale.
So, the bigger question is, if you get season three, do you have that mapped out too? Please tell us you have that mapped out.
NICOLE SNYDER: Of course we do. [laughs]
What we saw was so good, and when we talked to the actors, I mean, they’re excited, and you can tell that they’re really interested in it, and the writing has been really good, and they’re really enjoying it. So, we’re looking for season three now -
ERIC CHARMELO: Oh yeah, we're ready. Bring it, bring it.
When does NBC give you the marching orders? How does that work?
ERIC CHARMELO: Like in regards to season three? Yeah, like what does it take for them to decide [on renewal] in terms of how much audience or how long or what period?
ERIC CHARMELO: That's honestly above my pay grade. I think they have to wait until season two premieres and hopefully we can get a swift season three.
SCIFI VISION: Can you talk about the ratio this season between mythology and weekly story? Is it kind of a balance again?
NICOLE SNYDER: It's interesting. I think it was definitely more monster of the week last season; this year's heavy mythology. Mythology unfolds in every single episode, and as Eric said, it's much more serialized, but we kind of wove in a monster of the week here and there.
ERIC CHARMELO: There are definitely close-ended elements for each episode, but every episode does not have a monster of the week.
Nicole, you've written some really great episodes of Supernatural.
NICOLE SNYDER: With him as well. Yeah, so are you planning on doing more writing even though you're co-showrunners?
NICOLE SNYDER: Yeah, we wrote the season premiere and the finale.
Okay, so that’s something really exciting to look forward to, because your stories have been some of the best of Supernatural [in a long time].
NICOLE SNYDER: Thank you.
It’s kind of exciting to see you guys coming back and using that again.
ERIC CHARMELO: Well thanks, and I think what we learned from Supernatural was really how to weave together scares and humor, and we really tried to bring that to the show this season. Like, it's definitely ironic, but it's really scary, and it's funny, and it's sexy.
Did you do any genre references like Supernatural is absolutely famous for?
We definitely play within the tropes of horror genre. We don’t necessarily take lines from other shows, but certainly we play within the tropes.
Do you have certain things in your mind that you would like to work into the story? Like a minotaur or something?
ERIC CHARMELO: Yeah.
NICOLE SNYDER: One hundred percent.
ERIC CHARMELO: I have always wanted to incorporate a Cyclops into something. It hasn't happened yet, but maybe in season three. [laughs]
NICOLE SNYDER: I won't give it away, but I will just tease that in the finale, I got to reference a beloved show, and now it's coming to fruition. We were getting some fun jokes in there.
ERIC CHARMELO: Yeah, for sure.
Piggybacking on that, what show would you like to see crossover with Midnight?
NICOLE SNYDER: Oh my God. Dynasty?
ERIC CHARMELO: [laughs]
Yeah, actually I loved watching that. Well, Joan Collins is on Apocalypse so maybe she'll do Midnight next season. [laughs]
With Monica [Breen] leaving the show, I was curious what your reaction was and what you think she'll bring to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
NICOLE SNYDER: Oh my God, she'll kill it. She will slay it. She will.
ERIC CHARMELO: I think she is so talented, and I adore her, and I think that she can do anything So, I'm a fan.
Can you talk a little bit more about the threat among the Midnighters that you teased at Comic-Con?
ERIC CHARMELO: The only thing I'll say, is last season obviously the threat was lurking under the streets of Midnight, and this season the threats are weaving [themselves] amongst the Midnighters, and I think the big objective for townsfolk this season, is to decide who is friend and who is foe.
Do you have a list of guest star actors that you want to get in that you got most of, or are there ones that are left over that will be shifted over to season three?
NICOLE SNYDER: We made a dream list, and we got really lucky. And I don’t think we're allowed to announce any of them.
ERIC CHARMELO: But we worked with Nestor on Ringer, and we tend to recycle actors a lot, because we like them, and we like working with them, and we like having histories with people. So, bringing Nestor on board was fantastic; we honestly didn't think we could afford him.
NICOLE SNYDER: ...We also worked with Jamie Murray, from Dexter, and she's joining our cast as well, so we're really excited. She's pretty amazing.
ERIC CHARMELO: She plays a very integral role this season.
When you received those marching orders from NBC for sexier and soapier, like True Blood, what kind of steps did you take to make that work, and how do you guys see your show in relation to True Blood?
ERIC CHARMELO: It's definitely in the same multiverse. I mean, obviously one was a cable show and one is broadcast TV. Ironically, we shot the pilot as if it were cable, and then the SMP came hammering down on us when we delivered the first cut, so there was a lot of obscuring going on. [laughs]
NICOLE SNYDER: Not the pilot, but the first episode of this season.
ERIC CHARMELO: 201, yeah, episode 201. I think we just tried to push the envelope as much as we could, but it’s definitely the same multiverse as True Blood.
NICOLE SNYDER: We had Bobo (Dylan Bruce) buy the Cartoon Saloon, so it kind of felt like Merlotte’s. We wanted it to be a regular set.
ERIC CHARMELO: A watering hole for the Midnighters, in Davey.
So, if you have something that pushes the envelope... is it somewhere, can it be brought back in a streaming scenario?
ERIC CHARMELO: Possibly, yeah.
NICOLE SNYDER: We hope, because it looks really good.
ERIC CHARMELO: We have a sexy cast, so you want to see them.
If there is a shared universe with the books that True Blood is based on, there’s one character who’s in both series who is a fan-favorite with the readers, which is Quinn. How familiar are you with that character, and is there any likelihood that he could ever be introduced at some point?
NICOLE SNYDER: He could be. He's not in this season, but he could be.
ERIC CHARMELO: There are also rights issues with the books versus the show, so depending on that, you're allowed to use some characters and not others.
During the time that you’re waiting to see NBC’s response of the things you’re told to do, or you think you will do, or can do, [like for] prepping - I mean obviously we’ve talked a little bit about story lines and things, but are there other things?
ERIC CHARMELO:You mean for next season?
Yeah, hoping with anticipation.
NICOLE SNYDER: I think the wrap up of season two, as we're filming the finale now, gets us excited to start talking about where we can go, because the end of the finale, act six, is all setup setup setup and how do we build upon that. And while we're on set, we've been talking every day about we could this and we could do this. And so yes, we're working on it. The second we get the green light.
Did you get picked up for nine episdoes, or did you fight for a limited season?
NICOLE SNYDER: We got picked up for nine.
Would you have wanted more episodes, or were you happy with nine?
NICOLE SNYDER: I’m really happy with nine, just because we’ve been off the air for a while. It was a perfect amount of episodes to tell the story we wanted to tell, and it was good for us to ease in from consulting to showrunners, so nine was a really good number.
ERIC CHARMELO: And I feel like there’re no burner episodes. It’s condensed, and you distill it down to what you need, and I think you have a stronger season because of it.
NICOLE SNYDER: And that’s why it’s so mythology heavy too.
In general, do you think that’s [how a show should be]?
ERIC CHARMELO: I think so. Unless you have a franchise where it’s a case of the week, I think if you're doing a serialized show, it's really challenging to have to do more than nine or ten.
In some of our interviews, the actors mentioned the freedom they had to evolve the characters and the input that some of them had. How is the process of consulting with the actors, especially the ones who were there for season one?
ERIC CHARMELO: It's been great. It's incredibly collaborative. Nicole and I, we tend to write things, but it’s never gospel. We want actors' input, and we want them to have some ownership over it. So, it's one hundred percent collaborative.
NICOLE SNYDER: And this is a dream cast. Everyone is really talented; everyone is really respectful, and I think everybody's having a good time, because it shows in their work. Was there an idea that somebody brought in that you were wowed by, either from the cast or the crew?
NICOLE SNYDER: Always. It's a hundred percent a collaborative process, as Eric said, in terms of our writing staff, our crew, our actors. Everybody has thoughts and ideas, because everybody’s thinking about it, and again, they're excited about it. So there's passion behind it, and yes, we’re not the only ones with the ideas by a longshot.
Bobo wants a cowboy hat.
NICOLE SNYDER: Bobo wants a cowboy hat?
ERIC CHARMELO: [laughs]
Bobo wants to wear a cowboy hat
NICOLE SNYDER: But Walker [Chisum; played by Josh Kelly] wears the cowboy hat. They can share it.
ERIC CHARMELO: [laughs]
How did you choose your writers room? Were you looking for a particular style from your writers?
ERIC CHARMELO: We certainly wanted people with genre experience, with soap experience.
NICOLE SNYDER: We wanted diversity in the room; that was important. We wanted people we have worked with before, who we have a shorthand with.
ERIC CHARMELO: And we promoted a lot of assistants too, honestly. We like to promote from within and give people a shot.
It sounds like you had pretty much everybody available to you when you wanted them.
NICOLE SNYDER: It was good timing; we got lucky.
ERIC CHARMELO: Yeah, it was. We got picked up in January, I think, so the pilots hadn't been shot, and they weren't staffing. So, people who weren't staffed on shows and who were available, we had a chance to give them a job, so it was nice.
What are your plans the day after it's over?
ERIC CHARMELO: I'm going to Cabo. [laughs]
NICOLE SNYDER: I'm going to see my children. Right now they're in school in Los Angeles.
How old are they?
NICOLE SNYDER: Eight and five.
How many people do you have to bring in for production? Or is there a really good infrastructure here in Albuquerque?
ERIC CHARMELO: Jeff could speak more to that.
JEFF RAFNER: I would say we're bringing in some department heads, but we have some local department heads. It's really busy here in New Mexico, so once that pool gets taken, we have to bring in people, but I would say we're probably eighty percent local.
NICOLE SNYDER: We have a great crew.
Next they’ll have the Midnight tour, as opposed to the Breaking Bad.
NICOLE SNYDER: In our blue RV.
ERIC CHARMELO: And I don't know, I think we can announce this. I heard we're doing an installation at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios.
PUBLICIST: It's still in development, but we have our fingers crossed.
Can you wrap [the interview] up with what people can expect? What didn't you tell us that you should have told us?
NICOLE SNYDER: I think everyone is going to really enjoy it. We talked at Comic-Con briefly about the residue from Manfred's ears. It’s a sign of something we affectionately call “demon cancer,” and he is not very nice to his friends in episode one, and I think it's really scary and really fun that the bad guy is one of our own.
You mentioned something I would like you to talk about. The finale is kind of like a bigger episode or special? What can you say about that? ERIC CHARMELO: So episodes eight and nine, it's going to be a two-hour block. It plays like a mini-movie; it's really incredible. I mean, it's insane, and there are a ton of twists and turns and jaw-dropping moments. And you aren't going to believe what happens, and just have faith that things aren't always what they seem. So, it's fun; there are a ton of twists and turns and unexpected directions we take this season.
**Be sure to check out the rest of the coverage of the event, and stay tuned for much more, including the rest of the full individual interviews and more set photos, leading up to the premiere tonight.**