Exclusive Video Intervew: La Brea Showrunner David Appelbaum Talks Final Season

La BreaLa Brea, which premiered its third and final season on NBC last week, follows a group of people thrown together after a sinkhole mysteriously opened in Los Angeles and pulled people into 10,000 B.C. where they have since been fighting to survive. The show picked up after the events of the season two finale, when Levi blew up the Lazarus building, dashing everyone’s hopes of returning to the present.

Recently, series creator and show runner David Appelbaum spoke with SciFi Vision about the final season, including whether or not the group can forgive Levi (Nicholas Gonzalez), discord within the community and changing leadership, if he was able to wrap up the series the way he wanted, what he learned from the experience, and more.

Watch the interview or read the transcript below, and be sure to check out new episodes every Tuesday on NBC.

SCIFI VISION:   At the end of last season, [Levi] blew up the [Lazarus building] and everything…Can they trust him again? Can you talk about them building that trust back after that? Because everybody's kind of upset that they…may have no chance to go home again? Can they get past that?

DAVID APPELBAUM:  Yeah, I think that's something that's really going to carry over, particularly with the story of Levi, because he's the one who blew up that building and destroyed their chance of going home. And that tension between him and Gavin (Eoin Macken) is really at the heart of the beginning of the season, and will they ever be able to mend the friendship that they had? So, that's something that is really reverberating for those two. A lot of the other characters, they were certainly upset by it, but it didn't hit home in the way that it did for anyone besides Gavin. So, that's really the angle, that that particular story will be told through, through this season and their relationship.

Can you talk a bit about the community in general? Because there're obviously a lot of altercations, not just between them, but just this season in general, people getting along or not getting along, having to listen to a new leadership and all that. Can you sort of talk about how that plays out this season?

La Breaeah, I think, definitely the leadership story is something that will continue for Lucas (Josh McKenzie). He was elected leader of the clearing, but he's someone who's never thought of himself equipped to do that. And he's going to continue to struggle with, you know, "Am I the right person to lead these people?" Also, the decisions that you make, sometimes they're difficult decisions, and they reverberate in ways that you didn't expect. So, the challenges of that, and also, [of] everyone in the clearing, is after their home is destroyed at the beginning of the first episode, [they] have to find a new place to live. So, the conflicts arising from that and being thrust into an unfamiliar place will continue to reverberate as well. So, I think this is a group of people that have come to know and to care about each other, but still they're fighting for their survival, and within that, there are always conflicts that would inevitably come up.

Now, obviously, this is last season, unfortunately, and you only got six episode too, so it's even shorter. Did you get to wrap it up the way you [wanted to]? Was there a lot that had to be cut out? Can you talk about that, and how hard it was to sort of fit it all in?

Well, there were definitely landmarks and a true north of where I wanted the show to ultimately end, and I always had. And no matter when the show was going to end, I knew that there were certain ways that it would wrap up. But that's not the case for every character. Some characters I thought their journey might continue longer or shorter than originally planned. But knowing that it was a third season, we really had to pivot and think about how we [could] wrap all this up in a cathartic and emotionally satisfying way. So, definitely a challenge. But once we set it, once we knew what the parameters of the story were, I think we were able to really craft stories that are really satisfying. This is a really exciting and surprising and epic season. It's the best season we've done so far, in terms of not only the emotional stories, but also just the scale of it. It's a huge season: new animals, giant visual effects. It's the best visual effects that we've done in any season, in part because we've had more post-production time in the season than any other. So, we really had a chance to refine and work on a lot of what we were doing and make it look more like a big budget blockbuster feature film than we've ever been able to do before.

Which of those visual effects was the hardest to complete in the time? What did you have the most difficulty with on that front?

Definitely the dinosaurs are a challenge, because they're so big, and because they're moving and they're involved in action. They're not stationary things. Also, we also wanted to make them look different than other dinosaurs you've might have seen on screen before and have their own unique character. So, just creating that texture and the movement, they're all really challenging things. We also want to make sure that they're telling the story properly. So, there're just so many different layers that go into the creation of visual effects that just take a lot of time, particularly with massive creatures like that.
I was going to say, what part of it was practical, though? I assume you had to like yank people in the air and different things like that? Is that just as difficult? Or is it more just doing the computer part of it?

Well, there're definitely challenges, and before you shoot a sequence, you [have to] figure out what is going to be practical versus what is going to be added later. There's always a stand in for where the animal will be. Either it's someone holding a pole or someone dressed up in a blue or a green suit. So you know where the animal is, and so that the actual actors can react to that. And if they're hit by a dinosaur, they're on a rope or a pulley that they're pulled back from. When you later remove that pulley in visual effects, all that takes planning and work, but it doesn't take the same amount of time as the creation of the actual visual effect elements. It's all part of one long process, which is an exciting one and really just so amazing to see how something that you just type on a page in your computer comes to life later down the line.

What's something you learned about yourself just from this experience, overall?

I think it's how to manage time and tasks. The job of a showrunner involves so much. You're not only in charge of the vision, the creative vision of the show, but it's also the managing of the budget, of personalities, making sure that people are happy, dealing with notes that come in from other producers or executives, and supervising the editing [and] sound mixing. There're just one hundred different things that are happening in a show, and figuring out how to be able to do them all at once and not get overwhelmed by it is something that, you know, those are a lot of skills that I learned, because I've never been a showrunner or a creator of a show prior to doing this. But this, I created a show that was one of the biggest ones that's ever been on network television. So, it really threw me into the fire in a big way. But figuring out how to do all that, it gives you a lot of confidence that you are able to, and you get better at the job and learn where your time needs to go and how to manage pressure and things like that. So, it's really understanding that I could do this job and everything that it involves is some of the stuff that I've learned.

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