Coming to SYFY this fall is Ghost Wars, a new paranormal-themed series which features an incredible cast including Vincent D’Onofrio, Kim Coates, Meat Loaf, Avan Jogia, and Kandyse McClure. While in San Diego last weekend at Comic-Con, Daily Dead briefly spoke with Ghost Wars creator and executive producer, Simon Barry, and he discussed the challenges of creating a unique supernatural story for television, working with his ensemble, and he teased the new series’ unusual spin on ghosts and defying fans’ expectations of those kinds of entities in their entertainment.
It seems like, from the trailer, this is a very much different approach to the supernatural that a lot of other shows are doing or have done in the past. Can you talk about the challenges of taking on a story like this and some of your inspirations behind Ghost Wars?
Simon Barry: Yeah, well, I grew up on movies like The Thing and The Shining and Sam Raimi’s movies, too, and I remember watching movies like An American Werewolf in London, where the movies were balanced in the humor and the horror, in way that you can have a scare and a laugh very close together. And, not that the movies didn't take themselves seriously; they did in a way, but they also allowed for entertainment in a way that acknowledged that this was a crazy world that we were telling the story in.
And, I think that, for me, that's just a personal choice, but that is my favorite flavor of horror, where the movies that understood that they were having fun, but were also prepared to scare the shit out of you at the same time and make you think and entertain at the same time. So, for me, it's really just being a kid of those times, and for me, that was a real imprint on what good horror was. And so, it literally has nothing more to do with just my taste of horror films and horror shows.
And that's not to disrespect any of the other versions of these types of stories, but with this kind of show and to sustain it on this big cast of characters, you really need different personalities, so we mine our horror from our scenario, our setup, but the humor comes from the characters. It's not like Ghostbusters, where it's trying to be a take on the horror genre in a funny, humorous way. All of our horror is real stakes, real violence, real death, but our characters deal with it in a way that a lot of other shows may not have their characters deal with it. For example, with Kim Coates’ character, it's hard to imagine Kim Coates taking himself super seriously, right? So, we have fun with him and some of the other characters, too.
What's the balance between the practical effects and CGI?
Simon Barry: Well, it's probably 50/50. Yeah, we choose our moments pretty specifically, and sometimes there's a visual effect component, sometimes there's a physical effect, and sometimes it's a blend of both. So, it's kind of a little bit of everything. We do have a lot of physical, prosthetic effects, so we don't rely on CGI for a lot of things. We have a great company, Todd Masters, who's doing a lot of creature builds for us and castings of bodies and things like that, so we're really only using the CGI right now for some of the ghosts, apparitions, and some of the clean-up work for the physical effects.
Plus, we're lucky in that the psychological element of the show really transcends a lot of CG stuff, because what you're afraid of and what you're afraid of and what you're afraid of are all different things. And so, each character in the show is being challenged based on their fear. So, someone may have a fear of maggots, in which case we use maggots. And someone else may have a fear of their dead child coming back, in which case it's that. You know, you just don't know what’s going to happen next, and so every situation is unique. And, that's the other fun part. We don't ever repeat ourselves, in terms of the horror beats. They are constantly different, as different as the people are.
Are there elements that you want to incorporate that really haven't been incorporated before into this kind of a genre show? Like, with ghosts, we've seen all kinds of different ghosts, so I’m curious if you guys are trying something different.
Simon Barry: Yeah, we're doing one big thing, I think, that people haven't seen before. I don't want to really talk about it, cause it's a bit of a spoiler. But, by about the second half of the season, we flip the table on what it means to be a ghost, and how our science and the ghost world overlap, where we see how the science and religion and paranormal are one big idea. That was something we wanted to explore with audiences. So, we are going to have something, I think, that's never been done on a show, as far as I know.
How was it working with this cast, especially someone like Meat Loaf?
Simon Barry: Oh, Meat Loaf is amazing. He's a fox. He sneaks up on you. He comes off as one thing, and then he'll flip on you and turn into something completely different. He's really smart. He's been through a lot. You know, he's had an amazingly long career as an actor, not just as a musician. He's been around the block. He's very smart. He's an amazing actor. Some of the most heartbreaking performances in the show are with Meat Loaf, which is not what you would expect. But, they are, and I guarantee that his performance is going to bring people to tears when they see the stuff he does. So, he's wonderful, and he's tons of fun, and he has so many stories, too. I just want to sit down and write a book with him, because his stories are so unbelievable.
In case you missed it, check out our Comic-Con 2017 coverage hub for all of our news and features from San Diego.