AMC has been keeping fans of The Walking Dead pretty well informed with a small piece give us every now and again called “Dispatches From The Set”; basically our insight into The Walking Dead’s behind the scenes going-ons. So far they’ve interviewed Walking Dead’s pilot dirctor Frank Darabont, comic creator and exectutive producer Robert Kirkman, Special Effects Make-Up Designer Greg Nicortero. Now they released an interview with Production Designer Greg Melton.
Greg Melton who has worked with Frank Darabont previously on 2007′s The Mist, talks about what drew him into The Walking Dead. How he used the comic as the shows storyboard, and how he even lost a Huey helicopter on the set.
When asked about the approach of The Walking Dead, Melton had to say this:
A great example is when he wakes up in the hospital. It just gets worse and worse. It’s like there was a running gun battle through this hospital. There were grenades. He comes outside and it looks like Dachau. Then as he comes to the parking lot, there’s going to be an entire military hospital unit that’s been overrun. It just keeps unfolding. When you read the comic, Rick walks outside and there’s a car crashed into a tree. [Laughs] I’m like, “OK yeah, we’ll do this burned out bus and dump trucks stacked with bodies.”
Grenades? Really? I honestly have no idea how I feel about that, but I know I probably won’t end up really liking it. I want Rick to be a simple cop, I don’t want him chuckin’ ‘nades into a zombie horde. Hell, I don’t even want him to know how to use a grenade - even though it’s common sense the military unit being overran outside of the hospital is just awesome But while it’s awesome, it kind of makes me mad. If you’re a reader of the comic, you’ll understand why below. The dump truck fill of dead bodies kind of goes against the logic of the comic completely, that is unless they’re all permanently dead bodies (shot in the head).
Melton goes on to talk about how important Atlanta was to the military in the show and how he made it seem like it in the show:
The concept was that a section of Atlanta had become a Green Zone where the military could protect a certain square-block area. And basically the thought is that Rick approaches this military checkpoint that’s been overrun. We had lots of abandoned cars with luggage or doors open, like people had come, tried to get in; some people had tried to run the blockade, we had some burnt, turned over cars.
I really like this little bit he throws in for us readers a lot actually. In the comic books Atlanta was literally meant to be a safe-haven. Go there and you’re protected. I’ve also been wondering if they’re going to be doing LOST-style flashbacks in the show between characters. Jim’s flashback (if they do it) has potential to be one of the best episodes of the series, as his story is one of the saddest of the original survivors.
The set itself is massive, spanning over a 6 block radius, Melton recalls a funny moment between him and Darabont:
The set was so large, when Frank [Darabont] got there he didn’t even see we had a Huey helicopter landed in the street. He’s like, “Where’s the helicopter?” “It’s down there!” “Well bring it up here!” So we immediately brought that up. That’s how big it was – the helicopter got lost. [Laughs]
This is also a pretty cool part that he threw into the interview. A 6 block set is MASSIVE, to say the least. I really can’t wait to see exactly how much of it is going to be used in the show. Hopefully all of it is so that we get a good feel for how extremely different and difficult this new world our survivors are living has changed. I know that they’re filming episode 2 and (let me try to explain this without spoilers) they’re back in Atlanta.
When asked about CGI shots and sets, Greg Melton simply replies: “That’s been kind of cool, to actually be able to deliver enough physical scenery to fill the shot”. Could this mean more practical effects than CGI? It most certainly does! Which I am a huge fan of!
You can read the ENTIRE interview over on AMC, I only covered what I thought was most interesting. You can see the thumbnail image below, and yes, that is Darabont on a tank.
(courtsey of AMC photo by Scott Garfield © TWD Productions LLC)