Tonight, Season 2 of Sysfy’s hit TV show Z-Nation will be airing across North America at 10/9c and with that in mind, the Zombie Research Society was invited to sit down with co-creator Craig Engler, and discuss what we’re to expect, and his feelings about Season 1.
How far ahead have you got planned in terms of the story arc?
We know the ultimate arc for the entire show, and Karl (our showrunner and co-creator) even has a specific vision for what the final scene of the series is. But within that overall show arc we develop things a season at a time. It gives us the best of both worlds: we know where we’re going, but how we get there can change as interesting new and ideas arise and build off one another.
Was the last episode with the launching of nukes a possible ending to the series, if the show wasn’t picked up?
No, although it could have been I suppose! We knew pretty early on that we were going to be picked up for season 2 because the ratings were so strong.
What are you and your writer’s story influences (current events, history, etc)? Can you give us some examples and how they were worked into the episodes in Season1 (and anything you can mention coming up in Season 2).
Literally just about everything you can imagine. It can range from current events to old favorite movies to what’s going on in our personal lives, and every writer brings a unique point of view to the show. For instance, I wrote Resurrection Z in season one and that concept came out of the idea of religious zealots (of all kinds throughout history, not just contemporary examples) being willing to martyr themselves for a cause. In our case, it was killing themselves to deliberately turn into zombies.
Will there be any guest writers/directors/actors brought on this season?
Yes, but I can’t say who yet. In fact, by the time this article gets posted you may hear about a REALLY fun guest appearance we have lined up. I mean REALLY fun.
Got any interesting stories working with the cast, writers and FX guys from Season 1?
Our cast and crew is amazing. No matter what bizarre, off the wall stuff we write, they are always willing to jump in with both feet and give it 110%. Need a nuclear reactor core? No problem. Glow in the dark zombies? They have us covered. This year I wanted to write a particularly insane episode (I think it will air as episode 9 of season 2) and came up with all sorts of wild stuff I didn’t think we could pull off, and the FX team made it all better than I thought it could be. They sent me test footage they shot in a hallway in the production office and it was AMAZING. Our team is the best.
How about interesting experiences at Comic-cons (for you or anyone from the cast or crew)?
We did our first ever Z Nation panel at San Diego Comic-Con this year, and all the lights went out about halfway through. It was pitch dark, but I was moderating and realized the microphones were still working, so we just kept doing the panel in the dark and called it Z Nation After Hours. It was totally fun and the audience was really into it. Next year we want to stage something like that, but more elaborate!
Fantasy time: If you were to layer another movie/TV genre on top of Z-Nation, what would it be (like western, musical)?
I really want to do a Christmas special! I’m totally not joking about that. I asked my friend at the network about doing a Z Nation Christmas movie, but he was skeptical.
That being said. is there a possibility of doing one of those zany one-off episodes they often doing in a TV series (you know, like doing the entire alternate-reality episode as a western or a musical)?
We have an episode that, I wouldn’t call it zany, but it’s got some interesting point of view stuff going on. That said, it’s a pretty zany show at times so you never know what bizarre thing we’ll come up with. No musicals as of yet.
Any new zombies and weapons to look forward to?
Yes, there is one in particular that I love that’s made with a giant gear cut in half. Sort of like a cross between an axe and a mace. I think it would make a VERY effective zombie killing weapon!
Any video games in the works?
Syfy actually just released a fun online game: http://www.syfy.com/znation/findmurphy/
Are you and your writers influenced by fans comment and suggestions from the first season?
I don’t think our show is going anywhere that viewers will expect, so it’s hard to use their comments as any kind of guide for what we do. They might think A or B is going to happen, but we already know it’s going to be Q or R. So while we do see things people say about the show, I don’t think they influence the writing directly.
How do you feel/deal personally with negative reviews?
I don’t particularly mind them. If you look at any creative work in the world — whether its’ the Mona Lisa, the Harry Potter books, Citizen Kane, etc. — you’ll always find someone somewhere complaining about it. The object isn’t to try and satisfy everyone, because you’ll never be able to do it. The object is to find the audience that will like the thing you’re doing, and if that audience is big enough, you can keep doing that thing. In our case, our ratings for season one were fantastic, so that’s all we really need.
It’s funny, every now and again someone on Twitter people will tell me they don’t like the show, and I usually just thank them for giving it a try and tell them it’s not for everyone. And most often they’ll apologize for tweeting me and then say they’ll watch the show now, and I’m like, no, don’t watch it if you don’t like it!
Will we ever see a “Fear the Walking Dead”-style flashback of the beginning of the apocalypse?
You’ll definitely see more of the bigger picture this year, but I don’t want to spoil anything on that front.
What will 10K’s name be when he reaches 10K?
We’re thinking maybe “Daryl.” Ha, just kidding. Seriously, you think he’s going to make it to 10,000 kills? That’s a bold prediction given how dangerous the Apocalypse is.
Can you tease us with some Episode 1 (non-spoiler) tidbits?
The show is going to take viewers in an interesting direction that I don’t think people are expecting but that will make total sense as it happens. Plus there will be zombie strippers! Seriously, you don’t want to miss that.
Z-Nation Season 2 premieres on Sept 11 at 10/9c on Syfy.
And definitely check out our controversial article “Why I Like Z-Nation More Than The Walking Dead.”
Zombiecast, Zombie Research Society’s Official Podcast chatted with Craig Engler earlier this week on their show. Check out their interview and a ton of other great podcasts at: