The Shannara Chronicles producer David Blocker eyes second season
The Shannara Chronicles unit still.
Auckland is building a strong reputation for producing high quality large-scale television after hosting MTV’s first foray into the epic fantasy genre.
The Shannara Chronicles, based on the popular Terry Brooks’ novels and adapted by Al Gough and Miles Millar, has already garnered a strong audience internationally and has the potential to become a long running series.
Co-executive producer, David Blocker, (Into the Wild, Frailty, Hannah Montana: The Movie) says the show has been a success in all of its markets.
“In the US it had delivered beyond what MTV had expected and that’s hard because they expected a lot,” he says.
“The books were written in the 70s, so there’s an audience of people who are older,” he says. “The show is prepared for late teens to mid-twenties, but because of the fan base (from the novels) I run into people in their 30s to 40s who were eager to see it and were captivated by it.
The show is distributed by MTV in the US and Syfy Universal internationally.
Blocker says shooting in Auckland made sense on every level.
“Al Gough and Miles Millar were the two writers and we had worked together before and they asked me if I would help put a show like Shannara together,” he says.
“We spent a few months figuring out what it would take to do the show and it (Auckland) eventually became a candidate for a place to do the show and we found it was the correct place to shoot.
“The financiers like the exchange rate and incentives. The talent of New Zealand craftsmanship, camera crews to art department… they have had such great experience working on some of the great shows like Lord of the Rings.
“It really gave the crew an experience level that made it a really feasible place to shoot. It’s a place I would be eager to come back to and it allows you to enter a different world – an escapism world.”
Blocker says 99 per cent of the show was shot within an hour of Auckland.
“After exploring a couple of locations it really was the only true shooting location,” he says.
The Shannara Chroncles.
“Within an hour we could be in locations the really serviced the story. It’s a place where the dollar can be stretched very well, but you have to have a story that can be done here. If you’re story can be served by the area I would be hard pressed to tell you a better place to shoot.”
Brooks was also excited about bringing his novels to the screen, according to Blocker.
“Al and Miles worked with Terry Brooks and I came on board after the first script had been completed. He (Terry Brooks) became excited by their take on the books.
“You can’t duplicate a novel. You have to pare and shape it to work in an episodic way. Terry Brooks is excited about giving his books new life and it has been a really great adventure for him.”
The Shannara Chronicles, which premiered in the US on January 5, is based on stories from The Elfstones of Shannara, and stars Austin Butler, Poppy Drayton, Ivana Baquero and Daniel MacPherson.
When IF spoke to Blocker, he was conducting feasibility studies on how to prepare for another season.
“From all aspects it looks like we are headed for a future,” he says.
“Unfortunately, it’s become so popular it’s been difficult to see if we can maintain it here. It’s a crowded enough space in Auckland area and there’s not room for a lot of shows – the technology involved, the requirements for this show, we need to have a tested crew, people who have been through the dance a number of times and there’s only a depth like that two to three deep here.
“That’s the biggest hurdle and I have to make sure we have enough crew to run the show.
“I think within a month MTV should have enough information. They feel confident about it we are all actively trying to figure it out right now.”
However, Blocker is hopeful of keeping the production in New Zealand.
“To me it was a wonderful experience and I personally just love being here,” he says.
“It’s a great place to shoot a film and Shannara was a perfect fit.”