AMC "Fear the Walking Dead" Season 2, Case Study


 

The assignment

Create a  30 sec teaser for the second season of “Fear the Walking Dead”

The challenge

Highlight the season’s new setting, a boat on the pacific ocean, while conveying the sense of danger and claustrophobia suffered by the survivors.


 


 

The Concept

The sketch that started it all!

From sketch to frame

We initially developed two sets of ideas. Once centered around the absence of safe harbor; the other focused on the claustrophobia and the paranoia resulting from being trapped at sea with strangers. While researching the latter, we came across an interview with the show/comic’s creator explaining that, post event, every living person is already infected with the zombie virus. As soon as you die, you turn into one, whether bitten or not. It gave us the idea to use the water that now surrounds them as a window revealing their zombie self. 

In addition, the sense of drowning reinforced the claustrophobia, the inability they have to escape their trapped circumstances and their ultimate destiny.

Multiple solutions were explored to portray the zombie-self, full on make-up, Calaveras ( we’re in Mexico after all. ) and simple skulls, which became the preferred solution. The simplicity and subtlety they brought played well with the “blink and you’ll miss it” reveal we were aiming for.

 


 

The Production

Every aspect of the production hinged around a very shortened pre-pro schedule ( 10 days ) and a single shoot day, during which we had to film eight actors, under the most challenging of circumstances, underwater. And in Mexico.

As a result the storyboarding was extensive, extremely detailed and revised til both perfect and doable. We had 22 versions if I recall correctly. 


We hired an exceptional crew from L.A ( Colin Reed was once again our D.P for the project, like he was for season 1 ). The idea was to be quick since we had little control over the actor’s schedule and for the lighting rig to be extremely flexible yet flattering to each actor. We humanely couldn’t keep them in the water longer than 15 minutes and between each we only had 15 minutes to adjust our lighting rig. Our gaffer did an amazing job, as did the grip, who had the genius idea of lowering a scaffold in the pool, that reached to the water surface so that the cast could use it as a platform to sink, dip, rest on or launch from, depending on their level of comfort in the water. 



Finally the network provided us with great guidance in making sure our cast would play along and give us  the shots we needed.

Shoots are a high-wire exercise in juggling contingencies and it can only be achieve when people bring their best. After seeing what we shot, AMC asked us to give them eight character centric versions, which was a great compliment to the quality of what we captured on set, in a little less than 6 hours.

Storyboard #22

 


 

Post-Production

While our pre-pro and shoot were intense, or rather, because of it, the post-production felt very focused, our vision being so solid by that point. 

The editing fell into place almost organically, which is usually code for “ very talented editor”...

During the pre-light and to some extent on shoot day, we captured multiple skull passes, which the FX team, GI, used as reference to subtly alter the cast reflections or faces underwater.

Last but not least,  David Reid composed the music and sound fx, and once again reflected back the dark and mysterious atmospher of the visual.


 


 

Final Thoughts


As incredible as was our crew and clients, the most touching experience was working with the actors, s how generous they are with their talent, giving us incredible performances while in water, and really bringing our (22nd) storyboard to life.


Finally, a loud and unmitigated thank you to AMC for their trust in us in producing a stunning teaser we’re all extremely proud of.

 


 

Credits


DP: Colin Rich

VFX: General Idea

Editor: Katie Mantell

Sound Design: David Reid

Using Format