Friday, June 20, 2014

Syfy Q&A: Kevin Murphy - Executive Producer and Show Runner of Defiance

 We were invited to another Syfy Q&A with some nice little discussions about the upcoming season of Defiance. The full transcript is below - included for your full perusal.

Brenda Lowry:    Hi everyone, this is Brenda Lowry with Syfy Publicity. Thank you so much for joining us today for our conference call to discuss Defiance.

                              Defiance is premiering its second season next Thursday, June 19 at 8:00 pm, and we’re very happy to have our Executive Producer and show runner Kevin Murphy with us today to answer your questions about what’s in store and what we can expect for the new season.

                              Without further ado we’ll get started with the call and ask for our first question.

Operator:             And our first question comes from the line of Jamie Ruby with SciFi Please go ahead.

Jamie Ruby:        Hi, thanks so much for talking to us today.

Kevin Murphy:   Hi, it’s a pleasure.

Jamie Ruby:        I’ve got to say, I’m really - I saw the first three episodes and I’m really loving this season so far.

Kevin Murphy:   Oh I’m so glad, thank you.

Jamie Ruby:        My first question is I know that you’re going to be doing the game and show crossover this year again. Can you kind of talk about how maybe you’ve expanded upon that this season?

                              And also I’m curious, and this may just be I don’t know where it’s at, but is there a place you can like, if you want to know the extra game content that you can read what happened for people who either don’t play the game or like me, aren’t very good at it and don’t get far enough to find out what will happen?

Kevin Murphy:   Okay, so to start with that, what we discovered first season was that just a television show and a video game have very different needs, and there was a real challenge for Trion putting three different platforms up live for an MMO at once.

                              And a lot of their elbow grease the first season was set making everything work.

                              So what we ended up doing was we discovered that the way that this worked best; this crossover, because the way the television show worked is we are wrapped long before we air.

                              We wrapped back in December and we’re doing post production. So there’s a limit to how much we can change. And during the time when we’re in post that’s when Trion is making a lot of their big decisions about what they’re going to be doing in the game for the upcoming season.

                              So what we did this year, because we had to jettison a couple - a few ideas that we were really into last year because of timing and schedule. For example like the astronaut who came into Episode 8, Brian Smith who just got a Tony nomination for Glass Menagerie, he was supposed to be part of a larger integrated story line, and it was just something that Trion couldn’t accomplish technically with the time that they had.

                              So what we did this year is every - the second page of every script after the title page has a list of proposed crossovers that were generated in a big meeting that we had with Trion and the writers.

                              And then when we actually got the scripts written and we go through our process, we put which - and it’s like a Chinese menu of ten options that Trion can access. And they can use it or not use it if they wish to.

                              And then as they go on the process of figuring out what they’re going to be doing in the game and what their crossovers are, they decide okay, we like number two and we like number four. Those are the ones that we’re going to pursue.

                              Can you give us one of your actors so we can bring them digitally? We’re going to bring this character in; can we have her voice. We’re going to do a clue that’s going to put in this thing that you suggested back in Episode 7.

                              So it becomes sort of like a game of improvisation where the TV show makes a whole bunch of suggestions to Trion, and then Trion decides the ones that they can implement effectively.

Jamie Ruby:        Very cool. Now the second part was, is there a place you can like read, I guess, these extra story lines, because that’s what I’m looking for because I’m not that great at the game to get there?

Kevin Murphy:   You know I don’t know - there might be a more specific answer. What I would do is I would go to the Trion Web site because any time they’re doing a crossover with a TV show, like a significant one, they promote the hell out of it.

                              And I would look on our Facebook page and I would look on the Trion Web site. And I know last year they did a little video podcast that talked about that stuff. But I’m afraid I’m at a loss. I don’t specifically where the catch-up site is but, I suspect there is one.

Jamie Ruby:        Okay cool. I just wanted to get an idea where to go. Thank you.

Operator:             And our next question comes from the line of Erin Willard with SciFi Mafia. Please go ahead.

Erin Willard:       Hi Kevin -- excuse me. Hi Kevin, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us today. Wow, do I love the first three episodes of the new season.

Kevin Murphy:   Oh, that’s so great, thank you.

Erin Willard:       To me it feels a lot more dark and edgy. Is that just my personal view or was there a conscious move towards that for the second season?

Kevin Murphy:   Well there’s a certain darkness in the premise because last year Defiance was a very sunny, optimistic place. The first time we saw - like entered this world, you know, if you remember the first act of the pilot was Nolan and Irisa in the badlands getting attacked by Spirit Riders and getting stabbed and shot and, you know, almost devoured by saber wolves in freezing rain.

                              And then they showed up at Defiance and the sun was shining and everything was marvelous.

Erin Willard:       Right.

Kevin Murphy:   And Season 1 was about this idyllic little Oz like happy world went through the wringer. And by the end of the season, Datak, through a very good move on his part, he let his vanity get the best of him and the poor, sad bastard, he got his goal of being mayor—and he got to keep it for about 15 minutes before they let him stab the Colonel. And that gave the Earth Republic the pretext that they were waiting for to swoop in and take over.

                              So now we’re looking at an occupied territory, and it becomes a very different show. And it becomes, how did the members of our cast deal with the fact that everything has been taken away from them?

                              And if you remember the end of Season 1 the last episode was called, ‘Everything was Broken,’ which is the name for the Bob Dylan song. And that’s where we come in. Nobody is where we left them.

                              Nolan is no longer lockkeeper. Irisa is no longer completely in control of her own mind. Rafe McCawley no longer has a mine and he’s going to lose more as the season goes on.

                              Datak is no longer charged. Doc Yewll is no longer the town doctor. Amanda is no longer Mayor.

                              Stahma is the one person who is no longer a housewife, but she kind of likes that, and she no longer has her husband.

                              Alak no longer has the luxury of being a spoiled rich kid and he’s actually called upon to be the—at least the symbolic—head of the crime family.

                              Everybody is at a place of crisis and change and trying to figure out how they’re going to put their lives back together. And that’s basically the story of Season 2, you know, watching who succeeds and who falls.

Erin Willard:       Great, yes. No, I just love the whole change and tone is terrific. It also looks literally darker. Is that just because of my screen or does it actually have a kind of a darker look to it?

Kevin Murphy:   I think - we didn’t go for a - we have our same DT, and largely we have our same slate of directors that did first season. There’s a couple of changes. Pretty much it’s the same team doing everything.

                              I think it was more of a - it was more, once you put the Earth Republic visuals into the town, I think there’s a psychological clinch factor that you get. Because if you look carefully at your screen, you’ll be seeing propaganda posters are in the background where once you didn’t see them.

                              And you’re seeing Earth Republic flags. You’re seeing - where you saw the fist in the symbol of Defiance in Season 1, how you’re seeing Earth Republic logo.

                              And there’s something just creepy about those uniforms. They just feel dystonic and disturbing. And they - you know, they evoke the Third Reich without actually being...

Erin Willard:       Absolutely.

Kevin Murphy:   And I mean that darkens anything.

Erin Willard:       Yes, it does. Well I really love it and I can’t wait to see more. Thanks so much.

Kevin Murphy:   Thank you.

Operator:             And our next question comes from the line of Ann Cullen with Sci Fi Pulse. Please go ahead.

Kevin Murphy:   Hi Ann.

Ann Cullen:         Hi Kevin, how are you doing?

Kevin Murphy:   Doing great, thank you.

Ann Cullen:         I must say I love the show and I’ve not seen any screeners for the second season yet because they not send them out here in the UK. But I love the show.

Kevin Murphy:   That’s not cool.

Ann Cullen:         Yes, it’s not cool, but they’re not showing it until later on in the UK either which kind of sucks as well, because next year they sort of like are showing it a few days after the US is showing it, but not this year.

                              Anyway, I’d like to ask you about your game situation. I’m just wondering if Trion comes to part the game over on some next generation consoles, you know, the PS4 and the Xbox One?

Kevin Murphy:   I think that’s a question for Trion. I don’t really know. I would imaging.

Ann Cullen:         Okay. Well I just wanted to ask you about - another question is regarding an interview I’ve seen recently with you in SSS Magazine. You know I’ve heard that this season gets really dark and edgy which we’re all going to really enjoy, I think, watching all the backstabbing between characters.

                              One thing that struck me in this interview that you did is seem very, very confident that we could be seeing a third season. Am I right in getting that vibe?

Kevin Murphy:   I’m confident that if there is a third season, I know exactly what’s going to happen in it, and I’m very excited to do it.

                              That doesn’t mean that the - you know Syfy will agree with me, but I’m very confident that we’ll do a great job. And I think, based on the reaction of the show, I remain cautiously optimistic.

Ann Cullen:         Well I’ll be keeping my fingers...

Kevin Murphy:   But to answer your - I think the question behind your question, is what’s happening this season is setting up the situation that’s the last month. Because we’ve just put to bed the finale and its setting up the stage for what next season is going to be about, much like this season, you know, and occupied.

                              Like Season 1 was about a wild and wooly, rural free sheriff driven frontier town, Season 2 was about a town that is under occupation dealing with what does it mean to be free and what does it mean to work within a larger context of society as we look at the rest of the world or the rest of North America.

                              Season 3 is going to be more about global, and it’s going to be more about dealing with the role of theology and government is going to be Season 3.

Ann Cullen:         Wow, it sounds like it’s going to be really cool. And I can’t wait until we get the second season here. There’s no definite date being concerned for the UK yet.

Kevin Murphy:   Yes. And Season 4 is when we go back into space.

Ann Cullen:         All right. Well thanks a lot Kevin. It’s been great speaking to you and, you know, best of luck with the second season. I’m hoping there will be a third as well.

Kevin Murphy:   Thank you so much.

Operator:             And our next question comes from the line of James Hamilton with Geekstronomy. Please go ahead.

James Hamilton:  Hello Kevin, how are you today?

Kevin Murphy:   I’m doing great, thank you.

James Hamilton:  Good, good. I just want to go back to one of the things you said. You had mentioned the uniforms harken back to a Third Reich.

                              I was going to ask you about that because I thought the uniforms were kind of a combination of Nazi uniforms and Roman uniforms, and both were conquering armies. Was that what you were going for?

Kevin Murphy:   God bless you. That was a very deliberate thing on our part, our costume designer.

                              Yes, that was - I think she was really trying to get the sense of how do you distill occupation, and I think sort of like the litmus that she applied when she was explaining it to me was that it’s not weird that people would choose those looks because those - you know, if you want to send a signal to a world that’s like the world of the video game where you have the equivalent of, you know, Mongol Hordes and stuff, you’ve got - you know you want to convey strength to the raiders and the various gangs out there in the badlands.

                              And there’s a real sense of power to the lines in the form of Roman uniforms and as well as German uniforms. They’re terrible because of the cultural context that come to us, but they are rather terrifying and beautiful to look at in a kind of creepy way.

James Hamilton:  They are gorgeous uniforms. I actually like the capes this season. That’s kind of cool.

Kevin Murphy:   Mm-hmm.

James Hamilton:  Another question I have for you is, you wrote the season premiere for this year.

Kevin Murphy:   Yes.

James Hamilton:  Okay, and you gave Doc Yewll some really great lines. Between her and Datak, I mean there was some great dialogue you had there. And I wanted to know, who is your favorite character to write for?

Kevin Murphy:   Probably Datak and Stahma are probably my favorite. And I think probably they get - like we’re a wonderful team and one of the things that I really love about the show is that all of the writing staff is extremely involved and they’re really invested, and it is a very gung ho bunch of writers who love the show and are very into what they’re doing.

                              But for me, when I’m sitting down and doing a scene or doing a rewrite on a script, I sort of get happy when I get to Stahma and Datak. And this year I really enjoyed Datak and Yewll and they’ve become my two favorite couples.

                              And so I guess I would have to - if you put a gun to my head I would have to say Datak because he’s in both of those pairings.

                              But there’s some great stuff coming down the road from Datak and Yewll because Yewll is so utterly unafraid of Datak, and Datak is so driven by vanity and how he’s perceived the fact that Yewll is the only person in his life that gives him the straight scoop. It’s like even his wife doesn’t really speak directly. She handles him and he hates to be handled.

                              So in a certain way, even though Datak likes to be respected, he doesn’t like it when Stahma outsmarts him. And Doc Yewll, at least you know where you stand with her.

James Hamilton:  Right.

Kevin Murphy:   They have a lot of screen time this year and it’s all really fun.

James Hamilton:  Final question, we saw what was left of Los Angeles. We got a glimpse of Chicago. Are we going to see any other parts of the country this year?

Kevin Murphy:   Yes, we’re going to get a real good look at New York before the season is over.

James Hamilton:  That sounds intriguing.

Kevin Murphy:   Yes, and that’s about the only other city that we’re going to be visiting. We also going to - what we’re also going to hear a bit about New York and we’re going to learn a bit more about Amanda’s time in New York. And we’re going to learn - you know what, that’s actually not true. There’s one other city that we’re going to get a little glimpse of before the season is over.

                              We’re going to - one of our characters who I will not name, is going to be visiting San Francisco, which is where the game is.

James Hamilton:  Oh, okay.

Kevin Murphy:   A little taste of that.

James Hamilton:  And that will tie directly into the game then?

Kevin Murphy:   You’re going to have to wait and see.

James Hamilton:  Oh, okay. Thank you very much Kevin. Lots of luck.

Kevin Murphy:   Thank you so much.

Operator:             Our next question comes from the line of Courtney Vaudreuil with Oh So Please go ahead.

Courtney Vaudreuil:            Hi. Alak is in a tough spot with his two domineering parents. Is he going to be able to carve out his own niche?

Kevin Murphy:   I know, poor Alak. One of the things that - two characters who are very close to my heart in the show are Alak and Tommy because they’re the only two characters in the entire show who behave and think the way the audience does.

                              Everyone else is somewhat different and alien, but Alak looks at the horrible things that his parents do and he’s rightfully appalled by it.

                              Like last year when he - when it dawned on him that his parents had set him up to betray his own buddy to achieve their means and to smear Nolan and ultimately knock Amanda out of office, he was just appalled and just a disappointment. And the horror in his eyes were terrible. And that was exactly the way the audience feels.

                              And so when we kick around Alak, one of the things that I love about him is that we’re kind of kicking around the audience’s perspective. It’s like how would the audience feel if they were in this world? And to deal with all these strange things, and they didn’t have the great big gun that Nolan had. And they didn’t have the knives that Irisa has. How would you deal with it because, Alak doesn’t have a lot to go on?

                              And all he wants to do is, do what the rest of us want to do. He wants to kind of sit home and play video games, play some cool tunes, smoke a little weed and maybe get it on with his girlfriend. And that’s not in the cards for him and that’s kind of the tragedy for him is he is a guy who has such a low bar for happiness, and it will forever be denied to him just because of the family he happened to be born into.

Courtney Vaudreuil:            And for his parents, unlike Stahma, Datak seems more reactionary than kind of a long-term strategizer. Is that going to change at all for him?

Kevin Murphy:   Well he’s going to learn - it’s funny, you’re actually paraphrasing a dialogue that appears later in Season 2, so you’re barking up the right tree. Because there’s actually a specific scene with them in Episode 11 I believe the deals with exactly that.

                              But you’re right, Stahma is a chess player. She thinks many, many moves in advance. Datak is a checkers player. He thinks about just who he’s going to jump next.

                              And both strategians can be effective, but it makes it difficult to be married to a person who doesn’t think the same way you do because they keep getting in each other’s way.

                              And the only way that they’re going to succeed and the family is going to avoid being fractured is if they learn to accept what’s - you know, their differences and move forward.

                              And one of the big spines this season is the family story. It’s the utter destruction and the war between the two factions of the Tarr family, and which also ropes in the McCawley family and how they come out of it or don’t come out of it at the end. And that’s the question that gets answered in Episode 13.

Courtney Vaudreuil:            And just one quick final question, are we going to see Kenya again?

Kevin Murphy:   It depends on how much people want to see her. We’ll see.

Courtney Vaudreuil:            I think we want to see Kenya again.

Kevin Murphy:   All right.

Courtney Vaudreuil:            Well thank you. Appreciate it.

Kevin Murphy:   Okay.

Operator:             And we do have a follow-up question from the line of Jamie Ruby with SciFi Please go ahead.

Jamie Ruby:        Hi again. So with everything going on with the eWrap, and I know you talk about, you know, how the Tarr family, you know, is broken up and everything, but obviously we have, you know, I want to call him Grant, that he’s not - that the lawmaker, not necessarily at the beginning and everything.

                              Is it possible that maybe some of the people that are, you know, on opposing sides like during the season may start to maybe work together against them. You know, kind of the enemy and my enemy is my friend type of thing?

Kevin Murphy:   That is entirely possible. I might even cross over to say it is likely.

Jamie Ruby:        Interesting. Very interesting. Can you - you talked a lot about the Tarr family, but can you talk about how the changes are going to affect the other characters like Nolan and, you know, that kind of thing on the other side?

Kevin Murphy:   Well the Tarr - you know the problem with the Tarr family wanting something is that when the Tarr wants something, people get hurt. When the Tarr family wants other people in the Tarr family destroyed, people get hurt. There’s inevitably collateral damage.

                              It’s like if the Sopranos go up against each other, you know it will be the innocent New Jersey civilian who gets in the way.

                              And I think that trying to put a lid on that is - you know, becomes Amanda’s problem and it becomes Nolan’s problem. Because by the - you know, if you’ve seen the screeners, Nolan does regain his law keeper status. So the safety and the welfare of the town very much becomes his business, you know, by early in the season.

Jamie Ruby:        Great. Thank you so much.

Kevin Murphy:   You’re welcome. Thank you.

Brenda Lowry:    And thank you everybody for joining us today. Thank you Kevin for your time.

                              As a reminder, Defiance is premiering its second season next Thursday, so please let us know if there’s anything that we can do to help with your coverage. And thank you again for covering the series. Have a good day.

Kevin Murphy:   Bye-bye. Thank you.