Genre shows are often ripe for spinoffs, and when UK export Primeval wrapped last year, we hoped we’d see another iteration of the show at some point. Our wish has been granted and SPACE in Canada is in production now on Primeval: New World (PNW), which will premiere this fall. Perhaps if we’re very, very good, we’ll get a Syfy or similar pickup in the States.
When we were in Vancouver last month, we had the opportunity to sit down with two of the show’s producers, Gillian Horvath and Martin Wood, both of whom transitioned to the show from Sanctuary. When we chatted, official word had just come down from Syfy that Sanctuary wouldn’t be returning. In the first part of our interview, we talk about that, and how both came aboard PNW.
Horvath and Wood say it wasn’t a surprise that Sanctuary didn’t come back. They knew it could go either way to a renewal or a cancellation. “Either outcome was possible,” says Horvath. “And we knew it would take a while to find out.” Wood adds that the writing was on the wall. “It was fuzzy and we weren’t really sure what it said, but the writing was on the wall.” Also contributing to the renewal being an unsure thing was that the show had already wrapped production on its fourth season in August when it started airing on Syfy, and they hadn’t gone back into production yet this spring, which meant they’d miss the fall lineup this year if they were coming back.
Wood adds that although the network did give them feedback that their fourth season was the best they’d done, the financial considerations of going into a fifth season weighed out in the end. Wood is proud that the network realized how viable being able to pull off a show like Sanctuary was, and that Syfy has since copied their model on subsequent shows because of Sanctuary’s success.
Horvath got involved with PNW in January of 2011 as the show was initially being developed. It was greenlit late last year and went into production this March. Wood got involved late last year after Sanctuary wrapped. His producing partner, Damian Kindler, was departing to do another project so Wood had a couple of choices about what he could do next.
A primary consideration for Wood was what to do with his Sanctuary crew. PNW was a perfect fit—Horvath was already attached to the show, and it was on the same Vancouver lot as the Stargate series and Sanctuary. Wood signed up. “The ability to move our crew [to another show] was a really big part of it for me,” he says. “[With PNW,] we have a Sanctuary/Stargate hybrid crew. Virtually everyone here worked on one [or both] of those shows.” He adds that when you spend 13-14 hours a day with your crew for six months, they become your work family. Another member of the family since the Stargate days is Amanda Tapping, who has joined the show as one of the four resident directors for the first season’s 13 episodes.
Horvath says that when Wood joined the show as the co-show runner and executive producer, that gave PNW access to a lot of people who had previously worked with him on the three Stargate series and Sanctuary. In addition to Wood and Tapping, Sanctuary/Stargate director Andy Mikita and Supernatural/Smallville/Eureka director Mike Rohl fill out the first season director roster.
Horvath wouldn’t tip her hat as to whether we’ll see any Sanctuary alumni in front of the cameras. “We would love to work with them again and anything is possible,” she teases. “We will make publicity hay when that happens.” For now, she adds “the good news is that they are busy little beavers [on other projects—Christopher Heyerdahl and Ryan Robbins are busy shooting season two of AMC’s Hell on Wheels].
Wood was excited to be involved on the ground floor, of PNW as the director on the first episode. “Being able to do the premiere episode was important to me,” he says. “Making that transition visually and continentally [from the original] was important to me … to put the changes in to get to the new world.” He says that similar to what he did with Stargate Atlantis and Sanctuary, he wanted to “visually manipulate [the show in] a certain way that was story friendly [and] production friendly and the shootability of it was such that you wouldn’t get tired of the areas you were in and the look that you had.” He was also mindful that he didn’t want to wear out his audience with a visual style that was too frenetic or boring. “We wanted to move far enough away from the original that it felt like it was a breath of fresh air.”
In addition to the unique visual style, the new show focuses on an independent anomaly investigative team, led by Eureka’s Niall Matter and The Vampire Diaries’ Sara Canning. The producers were specific about not mapping any of the characters in PNW to positions on the original show. What Horvath could tell us about her lead characters is that she sees them as two sides of one character. Evan Cross (Matter) is analytical and Dylan Weir (Canning) is a behaviorist. “She’s the heart and he’s the head,” Horvath says. One casting tidbit that made it online this spring via fan photos of a street shoot was Andrew Lee-Potts’ arrival in Vancouver. He reprises his role as Connor Temple in the first episode.
We’ll have much more from our interviews with Gillian Horvath and Martin Wood this fall when Primeval: New Word joins the SPACE lineup.
For now, you can follow the cast and crew on Twitter and Facebook while the show is in production. They’re shooting episode eleven now.
- Primeval: New World: Twitter; Facebook
- Gillian Horvath: @gillianhorvath
- Amanda Tapping: @amandatapping
- Niall Matter: @niallmatter
- Sara Canning: @saradjcanning
Photos Courtesy of the Primeval: New World Facebook Fan Page