Nutmeg Conversations: Creators of "Dark Hunters"

Thank you everyone for agreeing to answer some questions about Dark Hunters: The Series. We're looking forward to learn more about this series!

*Editor's note: This interview has been edited and condensed.

Please introduce yourselves and your respective roles on Dark Hunters: The Series.

Dawn Gray: Hello, my name is Dawn Gray and I am the writer of Dark Hunters.

Reno Venturi: Reno Venturi. Director, producer.

Sue Kessler: Hi my name is Sue Kessler and I play Alex.

Sara Lynn Maher: Hey, I’m Sara Lynn Maher and I play Em.

What is Dark Hunters: The Series and what attracted each of you to the project?

DG: Dark Hunters is about two women who use their inner strength and knowledge about things that most people think are mythological or products of the imagination to not only help other people but help themselves.

RV: I loved the supernatural foundation and the very original underlying story. I have directed many, many projects and this one is so challenging and multifaceted I just couldn’t imagine not doing it! Additionally working with a writer with so much creativity and drive is a blessing.

SLM: I love elements of horror, the supernatural and things that go bump in the night. Dark Hunters encompasses all of those things and the series and Em’s story goes far deeper than that; as an actor it’s a dream and I’m blessed to help bring it to life.

SK: This is the type of role I always wanted; some chick that kicks some serious butt. The writing is brilliant and there is so much more to the character.

Can you talk a little about your influences on the story, the tone, and the look of the series?

DG: As far as the influences of it, I have a pretty extensive background in paranormal and supernatural lore, and as the story was developing that played a huge factor in what these two were going to battle. They needed something that could be somewhat of an inner struggle as well as an outer one, so demons and creatures just seemed to work really well.

RV: I believe that Dawn, and I seem to continually see this story from the same brain. As a director this does not happen all that often.

DG: The tone was something that went right along with the subject and what we find out the further we get is that we've only really scratched the surface of what's to come with the trailer. I think the look of the actual finished project, as far as the FX, make-up, sound, all of that came from the wonderful cast and crew involved. These guys and girls are phenomenal.

SK: Sarah and I have great chemistry and make an awesome team when bringing the characters to life. This is key and helps to portray the layers of the story. Its not just your run-of-the-mill vampire/werewolf show…

In the spring you filmed a trailer with the anticipation of using it as a springboard for the series, what’s the reception been like for the trailer and what’s next for the project?

SK: Everyone I have spoke to that has seen it is eager to watch the first episode. This excitement is awesome and I believe we are looking to start filming the first few episodes in the Spring of 2019.

DG: I’ve been totally floored by the reception the trailer has gotten. It’s been amazing to watch the faces of those I’ve shown it to in public and the written reactions of those who have watched it online. Our amazing cast and crew definitely brought my vision to life. What’s next is moving onto the next few episodes and really upping the game. If anyone can do it, this family can.

RV: Fantastic and beyond expectations. So many want to see this move forward and want to either be involved with it or are already fans!

SLM: Everyone I’ve shown the trailer to has had nothing but great things to say - from the storyline, to the cinematography, to the special FX, everyone is curious and excited to see what comes next. If I had a dollar for the amount of gasps and “oh my Gods” I’ve heard during the trailer…

What filmmaking experiences did you each have prior to the trailer shoot and how do you think these helped you on set?

RV: Well I have been acting, directing, coaching and producing since 1960. A real new comer but hopefully I’ll get it down one day!

SK: From an actors’ standpoint, knowing how things run on a set allowed for an easy few days of filming. Being a writer and producer myself, I helped in whatever way I could. We are a family and it was a great experience.

SLM: I’ve done commercials, industrials, short films - and I actually had the pleasure of working with [Nutmeg Institute co-founder Patrick Whalen] on a series at University of Connecticut for their student television station! It helps to be familiar with the process and terminology.

DG: It was an honor to be able to watch this go from paper to screen. The entire process was amazing, from the first punch thrown, to special effects right down to the “it’s a wrap.” This was so much fun. I appreciate the fact that I could be there to throw in little suggestions but ultimately, I think Reno and I had the same vision.

Both from a world building side and production design view, what went into creating the somewhat fantastical world of Dark Hunters?

DG: Building a world isn’t easy, as a novelist I think that really helped me see where Em and Alex were coming from. They don’t say in one place, they are constantly moving around, but when you can write it out and visualize, I think, at least I had hoped it would translate well enough so that others could see the setting and Reno, Editor Ben Theriault, and Production Manager Nate Theriault really had it down, especially the warehouse scene. Definitely spot on.

RV: A love and passion for the story and characters.

SK: Lots and Lots of imagination… I leave the answers up to the pros!

SLM: Blood, sweat, and tears - all of which make an appearance in the trailer.

You previously used and are using Indiegogo to raise funds for the series. How important do you think tools like Indiegogo and other crowdfunding sources are for independent filmmakers?

DG: We researched multiple online crowdfunding sources before going with Indiegogo because of the way they operate. Most were all or nothing or wanted you to have a third of the money on hand, but Indiegogo had a flexible amount and would allow those who contribute to continue with their contributions. We were also able to change the format of the page with each time we set up the campaign again.

I believe having a way to help others get involved with the funding of a project also makes them feel like part of it. Through it, we’ve gained a few people that will be joining us on set as one of our perks, and they are over the moon.

What do you want people to really know about Dark Hunters: The Series?

DG: It definitely has twists and turns that no one is expecting. Roller-coaster is definitely the right word for it, strap down and hang on, but it’s also about family, people who believe you and believe in you, who are always there to help pick up the piece and extend a hand to help, even if it isn’t in the way you think.

RV: There is so much more than meets the eye. Dark Hunters is clearly dark and mysterious but also very sophisticated and smart. As each clever layer is exposed the audience invests even more and begins to personally identify with individual characters.

SK: It may be scary at times, funny at times and heart wrenching. Just when you think you know what’s don’t.

SLM: That just like in real life, there’s more than meets the eye with the characters that you’ll meet.

And finally, you regularly tag Dark Hunters posts with #passionproject. Why are you so passionate about this project and what advice would you give to others you want to make their passion projects a reality?

RV: As an active Casting Director and educator I always advise new talent to follow their heart. What also remains to be true is that “they don’t cast a lot of Broadway shows from your basement!” If you love something then be out where the people are sharing your joy! It will become contagious!

DG: I think when you’re so behind something, it’s easy to find those who will get behind it as well. When I first talked to Reno, Ben, and Nate about it, I was amazed at the way they took to it. I had never had someone be as passionate about something as I was and that seemed to flow through everyone involved. It really did become a passion project, something that started out small and grew into this huge, living thing. I can’t wait to see it, personally, and to see where it goes from there.

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