CANNES– After unveiling a trailer at Comic-Con, Fox International Studios shed light on the creative process and business model behind “Outcast,” the new drama series from “The Walking Dead” mastermind Robert Kirkman, during a keynote hosted at Mipcom.
Sharon Tal Yguado, Fox International Channels exec VP of global scripted and head of Fox International Studios, said she approached Kirkman between season 1 and 2 to ask him about what he’d like to do next. “The concept was in its infancy but it was all there. Robert (Kirkman) spoke about Kyle Barnes, about this man whose whole life has been about possessions; he talked about a very relatable human way into the story and described this guy who tries to put his family back together while struggling against those evil forces and trying to realize what’s happening.”
Dave Alpert, the exec producer of both “Outcast” and “The Walking Dead” and a partner of Kirkman at Skybound, said the creative process for “Outcast” differed in many ways from Walking Dead’s.
“We were doing the comicbook and the series simultaneously, while on ‘The Walking Dead” the comicbook had been out for six years before we started working with AMC so this was a new experience — not only being the first script in development at the Fox International studio but also the first time that we’d developed a script and a comicbook at the same time.”
Alpert, who was in a cheerful mood, also said while they had to “work pretty hard to convince most people that zombies are real because most people don’t believe in them – I’m one of the few people who do — but the majority of people believe in demonic possessions, or at least the majority of Americans do.” That compelled Kirkman to “approach (the theme) with a degree of seriousness and reverence.” The exec producer explained Kirkman decided to create a series from a character-driven perspective and while grounding it in reality.
Speaking about Cinemax acquiring U.S. rights, Tal Yguado said there was a bidding war which was won by Cinemax because they were the most committed partners. “They were not only willing to pay a penalty but also really willing to fight for it.”
“Outcast” is the first series to be fully developed and produced by Fox International Studios. And the company’s topper acknowledged “Outcast” was developed in an unusual way, but even then, “the relationship with Cinemax ended up being “very traditional.” “Cinemax paid full fee for a show that is at full price that will come to the world at full speed,” pointed out Tal Yguado.
Ultimately, “a premium service like Cinemax was the right partner for the show because they were willing to “accept ‘Outcast”s world and the commitment to the comicbook fans.”
Tal Yguado and Alpert also discussed the casting of Fugit. “Looking for Kyle Barnes (the series’ main character) was not an easy task. (…) We saw a dozen of actors who had a similar delivery because they thought of Kyle Barnes as a neurotic, violent aggressive guy.” Meanwhile, “Patrick (Fugit) brought such a different vibe and energy. We could all see the kid from ‘Almost Famous.’ He brought a vulnerable, relatable energy and at the same time could be ‘badass’ and surprise audiences.”
Fugit, who had never done TV before, said it was an exciting time to step into television. “Paid television and networks today have the ability to tell compelling stories and have access to source material and new IPs, and to have a show that’s based on an original IP from somebody like Robert Kirkman is definitely exciting.”
“When you work in films you don’t seat with the material for a long time, but with ‘Outcast’ we have 10 full hours to explore these characters and stories,” said Fugit.
Fox International Channels has been flexing its marketing muscles for “Outcast,” spending over $10 million in marketing and started promoting the show six months ago. “We had a very well thought-out strategy (with “The Walking Dead”) that mimicked a zombie invasion, seeding the virus until the outbreak. And we’re doing the same with ‘Outcast.’
Fox International Channels brought the show to ComicCon in July and will launch it on Cinemax early next year. Tal Yguado said the marketing campaign was also going to tap into the Evangelists community to build up some buzz around the series since Robert Kirkman has a large following amongst them.
At Mipcom, Fox International Channels also announced the pickup of Keshet International’s critically-acclaimed “False Flag,” which marks the group’s first acquisition of a foreign-language show on a global scale.
“I’m simply obsessed wit this show, we made a very big committment,” said Tal Yguado. “False Flag’ is a show that we identified at a very stage in development. I’m lucky I can read Hebrew so I was able to read the outline before everybody else,” quipped the exec, who also noted that Fox International Channels has previously acquired the Israeli format to produce an English-language adaptation via Fox Intl. Studios.