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Dave Erickson Interview 01

DAVE ERICKSON (Showrunner, Exec Producer, Writer) talks about Fear the Walking Dead

What is the premise of the series?

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Fear The Walking Dead is a parallel story to The Walking Dead in season 1. It covers the time frame in which Rick Grimes from the original TV series and from the comic was in a coma. In those stories, Rick is shot, falls into a coma, wakes up 4 to 5 weeks later and the world is over. Fear The Walking Dead shows the audience what happened in that window of time. So when we begin the show, the world is just starting to fall apart, and it’s a new discovery for all of our characters and basically an apocalyptic education, because as people begin to turn, it’s slow, there are pockets of violence here and there – people don’t quite know what it’s about. And our core family is the eyes and ears into this new world that we’re stepping into. So, they will experience what it is to meet a walker, and then they will have the challenge of understanding what that means and how they adapt to the world as it changes.

Can you describe a few of the various family dynamics of our characters?

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We establish a highly dysfunctional blended family. The two main characters are the matriarch and patriarch. Kim Dickens, who plays Madison, is a widow with two children (Nick and Alicia), one of whom has serious problems and issues. Travis is a divorced dad who has a very volatile relationship with his 16-year-old son, Chris.

The series starts off as the story of two parents and a blended family trying to bring everyone under one roof and make life as normal as it possibly can be, and the great irony of our show is that it’s the apocalypse that forces them together for better or for worse. All the problems they have are the stories we begin to tell, and the great fun we have is exploring what happens when suddenly you throw zombies into that.

One of the things that Robert Kirkman has always emphasized is that these people are like you and me – blue collar Americans who are suddenly overwhelmed by something they can’t understand, and if they don’t learn to understand and adapt quickly, they’re going to die. All of the conflicts that exist are really the rail for the story for season 1 and beyond.

How does the idea of family come to be one of the core themes of the series in a show about the apocalypse?

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There is an intersection in the first few episodes as people start to turn that manifests as violent acts in the city and state. There is a rise in police-related shootings, leading to some civic unrest and rioting. The idea is to conflate something that’s germane to the city with the larger, more fantastical qualities of the walkers and integrate those two things.

Our two families (Travis and Madison’s blended family and the Salazars) couldn’t be more radically different and they are forced into close connection. In The Walking Dead, you go from zero to apocalypse quite quickly, and we saw the aftermath of the group that had formed. What we’re doing with Fear is piecing that together, that larger family. It is really watching the disintegration of society through the disintegration of family. When the families are forced together, it becomes somewhat of a dysfunctional family stew, and those pre-apocalypse issues don’t just disappear.

Kirkman always said, “Parents got divorced—there are zombies. Didn’t get asked to the prom—oh, there are zombies.” Thematically, this is something we are trying to extend and continue and we have a chance to really dig into those crucial interpersonal stories. It becomes about the things we tell our children, our view of our parents, etc. It is a question of identity, and the plates will keep shifting as the season plays, but all of the family drama tropes we’ve placed, those are the drivers of the show… along with walkers.

Source: AMC Press Kit

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