“Lore,” the new Amazon original series based on Aaron Mahnke’s podcast of the same name, combines historical mixed media, narration and dramatic scenes to bring to life terrifying but true stories that Mahnke’s 50 million monthly visitors crave — stories driven by people consumed with a belief in vampires, werewolves and body snatchers.
The show premiered on Friday, Oct. 13, with the six episodes available for streaming on Amazon. While the series had the backing of veteran executive producers Gale Anne Hurd (“The Walking Dead”), Ben Silverman (“The Office”) and Glen Morgan (“The X-Files”), it was a group of artists from Austria, Spain, Germany, France and the U.S. who joined creative forces to bring the stories to life through the added media of animation and illustrations.
“We looked for the best animators, and we did that search internationally from the start,” says executive producer Jon Halperin. He and Mahnke spent hours watching independent animation on Vimeo and perusing websites of relatively unknown artists. The animators came from five countries, and most hadn’t done any Hollywood work before.
“Stories or myths like those shown in [this series] exist all over the world,” says Madrid-based animator Joseba Elorza, who worked on the episode “Echoes.” “We, as animators, have been able to share our point of view about these particular stories, and although they all reflect intrinsic [human] fears, each of us has a [different] way of reflecting this on the screen.”
Brooklyn-based animator Jordan Bruner’s goal on the episode “They Made a Tonic” was to create images that were “painterly and a little serene, with an underlying sense of doom and terror.”
Jana Heidersdorf, who worked on the episode “Black Stockings” and lives in Berlin, explains that her freelance illustrations were brought to life by animators Richard Trammell and Tommy Madrigal. “The sequence I worked on is about changelings — mischievous folk exchanging a human for one of their own — and looks reminiscent of old storybook illustrations. We planned to use only a few animated elements, so I focused on lighting, such as flickering shadows and the movement of a moonbeam, to create not only a spooky atmosphere but a subtle moment of change.”
In the dark, she notes, a familiar face might seem like that of a stranger. “How much folklore is rooted in the tricks our minds play on us?” she muses. “I wanted the animations to reflect this aspect of the story.”