For a group of friends in the web series Graves, the only thing more horrifying than turning thirty in their hometown is the resurgence of literal demons from their past. A potently funny and heartfelt blend of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Todd & The Book of Pure Evil, and its own original spin on the horror and drama genres, Graves just finished up a stellar second season, and we had the pleasure of catching up with the web series' creator, Terence Krey, for our latest Q&A to discuss the first two seasons of his show and his plans for a third and final season.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Terence, and congratulations on a really fun first two seasons of Graves. When did you first come up with the idea for this web series?
Terence Krey: Thank you! It makes me very happy that people like the show, at least enough to want to talk to me about it. Graves was brewing for a while. A few years back I had a perfect storm of living in my hometown, not really working, about to turn thirty, and just getting lost in the miserable nostalgia of it all. I wanted something that kind of spoke to all those feelings, but also had demons—really cool, weird demons. It seemed like there was a metaphor there, so I just ran with it.
The cast all have such a great chemistry together as their own “Scooby Gang,” albeit a damaged one following their demonic showdown in high school. How did you go about casting the show?
Terence Krey: A lot of the cast are close friends of mine, either that I’ve met through school or previous films/projects. A lot of the roles were written specifically for the actors who play them. Hugo Lopez, who plays Astaroth and scores the series, I have known since kindergarten. I want to say around 3rd or 4th grade I knew he would be a perfect demon. We’re all kind of a family.
The only role I had to actually cold cast for was Jane, the lead. Christine Nyland saw the casting notice online, guessed my email address, and emailed me personally about the role. So, yeah, she really made the choice easy for me. (Also, she’s great so that also helps).
What TV series, movies, or books inspired you while creating Graves?
Terence Krey: Look, I hate to be the guy that always brings up Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but… just kidding, I love bringing up Buffy. But aside from that, definitely the Evil Dead series, John Carpenter, H.P. Lovecraft, and Donnie Darko. Mix in some mumblecore indies and a Bruce Springsteen album or two, and that’s pretty much Graves.
One of the greatest things about Graves is how it mixes the mundane with the macabre. Even though demons are running amok, it all feels grounded because the world feels normal. Were you really conscious of that while writing and filming?
Terence Krey: Yes! It was really important to me that even though there are demons, the things Jane and the gang deal with are very honest and relatable: having a lame job, paying rent, being lonely, falling out of love with your art/hobbies, all that stuff. Plenty of people live with trauma, guilt, and an unhealthy relationship to nostalgia. It just so happens that Jane and her friends developed all of these things because of an apocalypse.
Where does filming for Graves take place, and how long does it generally take to shoot an episode?
Terence Krey: Graves is shot almost entirely on Long Island, NY, which is where I grew up. I think my love-hate relationship with the location really comes through in the series a lot, actually. Haha. We generally shoot full seasons at a time. Each season took about six days each, with a day or two for pickups here and there.
Graves does a great job intertwining horror, humor, and heart. How important was it for you to find a balance between the three?
Terence Krey: Its funny, I don’t know if I necessarily see Graves as a horror show. It definitely has horror elements, but I don’t know if anything truly scary happens. But I guess “moody, supernatural dramedy” doesn’t really roll off the tongue. But yes, it’s important to always juggle those three things. Every time there is a scene with a spooky character, it’s a matter of deciding if this is supposed to play for laughs, for thrills, or for sads. And if I can do all three, then even better.
The practical effects in Graves are really well-done. How did you go about crafting the looks of the demons and other supernatural elements in the show?
Terence Krey: I have no problem saying this every interview, but we are EXTREMELY lucky to have a very talented Special Effects Makeup Artist, Beatrice Sniper. Together, we created the look of all the demon characters, which she then implements on set. She’s our actual secret weapon. Usually I have an idea for a demon, either thematically or specifically, and Beatrice and I will kind of jam on a concept/reference art.
But the character doesn’t fully come together until our first makeup test with the actor. That’s when you really find the little details and the character comes to life. It’s one of my favorite aspects of making this show.
Did you ever have a different story arc planned for these characters that you swapped in favor of what made it on screen?
Terence Krey: I usually have delusions of grandeur, but with Graves I was pretty economical, and so far, mostly what has been on screen has been what was originally intended. Graves was originally designed to be a 30-minute TV show, with more Monster of the Week-style storytelling, but once we kind of made the jump to web series, with full seasons and shorter episode lengths, it became less about the Monster of the Week and more about keeping stories mainly about the few big bad demons and the main humans themselves.
Do you have plans for a third season of Graves? Can you tease where you would like to take these characters next?
Terence Krey: There are plans for a third season of Graves, and it will be the last season. Graves has been an awesome ride, and I want to give it a nice definitive ending. Hopefully Jane will live to see thirty, and everybody will make peace with their past. And yeah, they’ll probably have to kill some demons.
With the first two seasons of Graves available to watch on Vimeo, what other projects do you have on deck that you can tease, and where can readers find you online?
Terence Krey: I have season 3 of Graves on deck, that’s pretty much it for me! I would love to jump into either another web series or maybe a feature afterwards, but still in my genre of “mumblecore, lo-fi, emotional horror.” Haha, how’s that sound? Super marketable, I know.
I am on the internet in many ways. Fortunately, I am the only Terence Krey in the world, so it should be easy to find me. @terencekrey on Twitter and Instagram. Be prepared for tweets of Evanescence lyrics, though.
To watch the first two seasons of Graves, check out our previous coverage of the web series.