The Hunted: 2020

Holycrap, it’s 2020. Where’s my flying car? Weren’t were supposed to be living in space by now? Or at least fighting off a zombie hoard? I was prepared for that at least. What am I gonna do with all these swords? One thing’s for sure. We still have vampires…

As we launch into our 20th year of the longest running series online (can you freakin believe that?), I thought an update was in order for all things Hunted. The show that, much like a vampire, refuses to die. It’s feisty, and resurrects itself in weird-ass crazy ways that I can never seem to predict.

Last year, I was contacted by a fight director out of New York, Jared Kirby. Jared is the creator of the Combat Con workshop in Vegas, and you may recognize him as “Phil,” who may have exploded in our crazy ambitious SlayerCon episode. I’ve been after Jared for years to create a Hunted episode, but it wasn’t until after the second season of The Hunted: Encore that he decided to pull the trigger (thanks also to the encouragement of Ned Donovan).

Jared is also the founder of a stage combat school in New York called NYCSS – New York Combat for Stage and Screen, and I suggested he utilize the school and students for everything from production to stunts and actors. The Hunted was originally created for just this purpose – to give students a venue to perform. And thus, The Hunted: NYCSS, The New York Center for Slayer Studies was born.

And they dove right in, coming up with pages and volumes of ideas. Unfortunately they didn’t have a writer to compile all of this into a cohesive story. I made a few recommendations, but they were intent on cranking this out ASAP, so I dove in and began cranking out the script myself.

I spent last Thanksgiving vacation on the floor of a bedroom in Big Bear trying to Tetris all of these ideas together. It quickly became clear, however, that if they wanted to incorporate all of these ideas, this wasn’t going to be a single episode. This was an entire season.

I warned them that they should probably start simple, but they were determined, and many of them saw this as an opportunity to gain valuable production experience. And I can say without a doubt they most certainly did that.

To fund the show, they launched an Indiegogo campaign and raised $13K in the course of a month. They secured a bunch of locations, cast the show, filled out their crew, and found their director, Crystal Arnette, who also directed season 2 of The Hunted: Encore.

They succeeded in finishing principal photography last year, which was no easy task considering how ambitious this was. They are still in the throes of post-production, but I’m just amazed at what they’ve accomplished so far…

But wait, there’s still more! Far on the outer regions of Hunted-dom, in a remote wilderness of the Bavarian countryside (yup, that’s Germany) is a town called Allgovia. Here, meet Christian Eberle, an aspiring filmmaker and fan of my early 90’s sword-slingin mullet tribute band known as “Ring of Steel.”

Christian and I talked about what it would take to shoot an episode of The Hunted in Allgovia. I told him a good place to start would be to take inventory of his resources which could give him some instant production value. He mentioned he was surrounded by castles and I said that sounded like a great place to start.

We teamed up on the storyline and a month later I crafted one of the most bizarre Hunted scripts ever – about a classical composer / vampire who eventually becomes an EDM superstar and takes up residence in a castle in lovely Allgovia, but is then thwarted by his number one fan, a mysterious girl, and the vampire’s old benefactor, lover, and king of the castle.

It’s a truly bizarre Monty Python take on The Hunted and Christian has spent some serious time making this happen. Among other things, he’s been faced with waiting for the right weather, which doesn’t happen very often in Allgovia. So it’s taken almost a year to shoot this episode. But now he’s in post trying to tie it all together, which is never as easy as it seems.

And then there was China.  At one point I was approached to shoot 24 episodes of the show in Beijing, which is even more difficult than it seems because the Chinese censors will reject anything dealing with ghosts or the supernatural.  So yea, that can make things difficult.  We got as far as a synopsis, but ultimately I didn’t feel it was something worth pursuing.

Regardless, I’m feeling the itch to shoot something. I’ve put off any new LA episodes while I write my next feature, Body and Soul, which is a sci-fi love story. Between that and my regular gig (currently working at a place called Crafty Apes on VFX for “Legends of Tomorrow” and “Star Trek: Picard”), I don’t really have much time for anything else. I’m also of the opinion that instead of shooting just another Hunted episode, my next step should be a network show.

I’ve always wanted to have a real writer’s room, along with a real budget that would do the show justice. I’ve basically been working as a show runner all these years, why not make it legit? Then there’s the opinion that I shouldn’t be working for a network. I should create my own. And yea, that seems like a crazy amount of work, but people have done it. Felicia Day with “Geek and Sundry” comes to mind.

Whatever the future holds for The Hunted, it’s been a blast and I don’t regret a single day. Well, perhaps that day working on the feature when the RV blew up. Speaking of the feature, Monique Ganderton (Susan) has been rockin Hollywood as a top stunt coordinator, and her recent credits include “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame!” Dave Baker (Harry) has also been keeping busy on the umpteenth season of “Forged in Fire.”

Looking back on the rest of The Hunted universe and where it all began, I’ve always felt it was kind of a time capsule. It’s basically friends making home movies with vampires and swordfights. Some friends have moved on to a completely different life. Stuntman Kit Davlin (featured in “Tough Love”) is now a lawyer married with a kid living in Colorado. My bro, Stuart Chapin passed away a few years ago, but I can still look back at us beating the crap out of each other in our Hunted “Cheese Shop” episode “Two for One.”

…and some friends are still a big part of my life. Among so many others, Jim Pirri (seen in the feature) has always been a huge supporter of myself and the show, Hunter Ackerman (“The Stalker”) is now a rock musician with his band The Dirty Jacks, Kerry Glover (“Faire Warning”), Jochen Repolust (“Breaking Up 1&2” and shot practically every show in the first season), Anthony DeLongis (practically every show in every season, can’t thank him enough), and Jessica Cail (“Breakthough”) who has been with me since the very beginning – almost twenty years of this crazy indie vampire show, and even stepped up to help produce the feature. Couldn’t have done it without ya.

And thanks so much to the fans of the show and everyone else who has contributed. I still think user generated content is an amazing untapped resource. It’s helped keep the show going for almost twenty years, and I still have yet to develop the perfect online interface that would allow fans to easily contribute their skills and collaborate as actors, writers, filmmakers, musicians, stuntmen, editors, etc.

The Hunted may not be the perfect version of itself that I had always hoped for, but I prefer it far better than waiting around for something to happen. And from what I’ve seen, that counts for a lot in Hollywood. And life.

Here’s to 2020 and my flying car.

Note to self – shoot a Hunted episode about a flying car.