The first ever podcast turned tv series for Amazon Video, Lore is a horror anthology created by Aaron Mahnke, with Valhalla Entertainment and Propagate Content. Each episode features a new story based on actual events and folklore origins, exploring the eerie histories that give rise to mythical creatures and urban legends. Tales such as the origins of vampirism, or the first alleged incident in America involving a murderous living doll.
The Workprint got a chance to chat with some of the cast and executive producers of Lore at New York Comic Con 2018.
First, we chatted with actors Elie Haddad (Next of Kin, Game of Thrones) and Thomas Kretschmann (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Dracula).
What can we expect from Season Two?
Thomas Kretschmann – Different stories from beginning to end. Totally different subjects, set in different times. What unifies all these stories is that they’re very creepy and exciting. The part I did, George Reingruber, is a story about a mass murderer – I play a detective brought into to solve this absolute mess (of a case). Nobody knows who did it, and it’s spiced up with flashbacks, where we get ideas what’s been the case, and going on? But the case is not solved even today – which by the way, I like a lot because it could go even further. An audience quest so to speak.
Thomas Kretschmann portrays Georg Reingruber, in the episode Hinterfaifeck: Ghosts in the Attic.
What preparation did you do for your roles?
Elie Haddad – We shot the entire season in Prague and I could just get inspired walking around those streets. If you go around town and ask about the Curse of the Orloj, they will all tell you different stories. Thanks to that, we had the freedom to create something closest to the truth. In terms of preparation, you break down the script, work on the character, try to find their primal needs. I based mine on survival mode. The story of two brothers, two Turks, hungry and needing shelter and money. They hear about this curse– that the whole city of Prague is under the black plague. That people believe that if someone can fix this clock, everything will come back to peace. So they come into the city thinking they can do it… Preparation was the same for any other project. I was just lucky to be at the place where everything happened.”
Elie Haddad portrays Jan Mirandesh, in the episode Prague Clock: The Curse of Orloj.
Afterward, we sat with executive producer Howard T. Owens and series creator himself, Aaron Mahnke. We asked questions on what to expect this season.
How did you choose the stories for the Second Season?
Aaron Mahnke – A lot of the same ways as season one, the difference being, we had an official writer’s room for season two. It led us to be a lot more intentional as a collection as a whole.
Howard T. Owens – Season one we were creating, ideating, literally figuring out how to do it. Season two we are dialed in now.
How does season two differentiate from season one?
Aaron Mahnke – Season one, you watch the main story come out. Throughout the episode, you’ll get pulled out to learn about this or see this in another place, great elements pulled from the podcoast. In TV it pulls you out of the moment. So here, it’s so much more focused on the A-story and those contextual moments when they happen, they’re natural and embedded organically.
Howard T. Owens – In a simple way, Aaron’s podcast could feature up to 30-40 names. Either of characters, types of science, places in the world, etc. In a tv show, if you have more than 5-6 characters in an hour of TV it’s crazy. In the second season, we were able to say here is the story. Here is the main characters and where we’re telling the story through. Aaron brought up a great point, in the podcast and in season one, his voice and pov is what’s in your head. In the TV show, we want the story to speak for itself. We want the main character to be who you’re watching.
Some of the episodes are not on the podcast. Why?
Aaron Mahnke – One thing we’ve learned is that some podcasts don’t translate to video. I think the same can be said for other ideas, that they’d work only well on a video format. The Prague clock episode is a good example, it’s full of gears and mechanisms because it’s such an ancient clock. You have to start with a story and say, “this story belongs in what format?” Some of them can go either way. Some of them go to audio, some go to video. Right now, we’re learning what we can do that with these story ideas. The Jack Parsons episode is another visually stunning episode – the occult symbols and rituals, things you couldn’t do in an audio show can go well in a TV show.
Howard T. Owens – It’ll always be based on the podcast. If lore is the franchise, the podcast is kind of the mothership, and I think that’s what we pivot off. But I think for season 2 and beyond we’re no longer bound to just being a podcast. We have our own organism in the TV show, as long as we’re tonally true to lore.
Aaron Mahnke – There’s a book series as well. They have stories in the podcast but also have stories that weren’t. In the print world, it’s a lot easier to group these likeminded stories and have it make sense. Every medium is a new flexible tool and we’re playing with that.
Finally, we met with new Showrunner, Sean Crouch (Executive Producer of The Exorcist on Fox) and Gale Anne Hurd (Executive Producer of The Walking Dead).
What made the decision to bring a new Showrunner?
Gale Anne Hurd – Well, Glenn Morgan (showrunner from season one) was unavailable as he was doing X-Files, so we had auditions for showrunners. We met a number of people who pitched, what they liked about the first season or what they’d like to change, and Sean was the clear winner.
Sean Crouch – I came in hot. I had a big take to say, let’s do Black Mirror. Let’s do twilight zone season 2. But Black mirror if it was real, if all it happened at some point, how do we do that story?
Gale Anne Hurd – The truth is a lot of people fake passion for horror because that’s the hot genre right now. He’s the real deal. And I can sus that out.
What’s the most exciting thing you’re looking forward to concerning production?
Sean Crouch – I’m excited for people to see the production values this season. Amazon spent more money on these, character based, smaller stories. But spent more money so the production value is up. Prague is a beautiful location. I can’t wait for people to see how these stories are played out now.
Gale Anne Hurd – If you’ve seen the promo piece you’ll get a sense of just how much scope there was. Last season, we could should a few exterior shots but the rest were mostly interior in a house or different location. This season, we got drone shots, cranes, castes and horse drawn carriages, and a four-story! The clock episode? Our director and his team (Sean) constructed a four-story clock that works.
How much historical research goes into production?
Gale Anne Hurd – History is my passion. The idea of bringing these stories to life with that kind of scope is amazing. But at the end of the day, people tune in for the characters, so Sean and his writing team were able to bring in a great deal of nuance. While we can’t explore the world the same way the podcast does, that all comes through character this season. It’s evolved into something much more appropriate for streaming.
Sean Crouch – I tell people that ninety percent of my job is research. For example, Elizabeth Bathory, there’s ten different ways we could have told that story. Maybe, she was just a woman who had a lot of money and the king owed her money and made up everything about her? Maybe the blood part of the story came 200 years later? Maybe there was no blood? At some point, we have to take our research and then what is our best story that is as close to true as we can get. Now, when we do Jack Parsons in 1952 it’s a lot easier to be true to the story, or 1922 for Hinterfaifeck. 1420 Prague? You know it’s probably ninety percent made up in some fashion as there’s so much folklore to it.
At this point, Thomas Kretschmann popped back in to joke and say hi.
How is it working with a writer’s room this season?
Sean Crouch – I’ve always worked with a writers room. I love collaborating. Gale jumps in. For me, the best idea wins. So you have anybody coming in with the best idea.
Gale Anne Hurd – And actors, speaking of Thomas Kretschmann, he came in and with the director and they literally spent so much time going page by page, and when get to you work with someone like Thomas Kretschmann – the integrity that he insists on for him to flesh out his character makes us all better.
You can see all the interviews below. You can also stream all of Lore Season 2 on Amazon Video, right now.