Channing Powell, a writer on “The Walking Dead” for five seasons, has now turned her thoughts to showrunning “The Feed,” a near-future dystopian thriller that world premiered this week at Canneseries TV drama festival.
The show centers on a young psychiatrist, Tom Hatfield (Guy Burnet), who is concerned about the effects of a technology called The Feed, an implant in the brains of millions of users that allows them to share thoughts, emotions and memories. Matters are further complicated because it was his father (David Thewlis) who invented and maintains The Feed, and his mother (Michelle Fairley) is the CEO of the corporation that profits from it. When cases start to appear of users turning violent toward themselves and others Tom begins to investigate.
When Powell was first approached about the project, which is based on a novel by Nick Clark Windo, she was wary of tackling another dystopian thriller, but the story sparked her interest. “I was familiar with that world and I liked that world, but I didn’t want to do ‘The Walking Dead’ again. But this was presenting it in a completely new way,” she tells Variety in Cannes.
She was skeptical about the concept of The Feed as a technology. “I thought, well, this could never happen; technology like this doesn’t exist,” she says. Having done a little research, though, she was surprised to find it wasn’t so far-fetched.
“Allegedly Facebook is working on something that would go inside your head and MIT is trying to develop a technology that is powered by thought, which to me is such a terrifying notion that you would let people inside your head, I mean that is the last frontier of privacy that we have,” she says. “And I was a new mom right when it came to me so why not terrify myself more with other things that I should be concerned about happening in the world.”
Rather than the technology, what hooked her was a more human and universal aspect to the story: the pregnancy of Tom’s wife Kate (Nina Toussaint White) and the subsequent birth of their first child, and the threat The Feed may pose to their daughter.
“I am a big fan of [Roman Polanski’s psychological horror film] ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ and I had just had my daughter. ‘The Feed’ is about two young parents doing anything they possibly can to protect their child from a world that seems scary, and that was what appealed to me,” she says. “There is always going to be the big story going on around the characters, but as long as the characters themselves are interesting, and you can relate to them, it doesn’t really matter what’s happening around them.”
“The Feed,” which is produced by Studio Lambert, premieres this year on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S., Canada and Latin America, and across Liberty Global’s international platforms, including Virgin Media in the U.K. All3Media International is handling other territory sales.