Spells like teen spirit

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Ed Decter talks “Dark Knight­ing” the Mor­tal In­stru­ments nov­els in Shad­owhunters

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red Alert -

The Mor­tal In­stru­ments fran­chise is get­ting a sec­ond lease of screen life with Shad­owhunters. Based on the pop­u­lar nov­els by Cas­san­dra Clare, the TV se­ries fol­lows Clary, an 18-year-old art stu­dent who dis­cov­ers she comes from a long line of half-hu­man/half-an­gel war­riors ded­i­cated to hunt­ing down demons. When her mother goes miss­ing, Clary must em­brace her mag­i­cal her­itage in or­der to sur­vive.

To avoid sim­ply re­hash­ing the books and 2013’s The Mor­tal In­stru­ments: City Of Bones film, the Shad­owhunters’ cre­ative team adopted an am­bi­tious “Dark Knight this ma­te­rial” phi­los­o­phy.

“We don’t have the hubris to com­pare our­selves to Chris Nolan,” ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Ed Decter says, “but there were Bat­man comic books, a TV se­ries and movies be­fore Chris Nolan came along with his Bat­man and said, ‘I’m do­ing it my way. It’s go­ing to very dark. It’s go­ing to be very sexy. It’s not go­ing to look ex­actly the way it’s looked be­fore.’

“Our de­ci­sion was we al­ready have a movie that looked a cer­tain way,” con­tin­ues Decter. “We have the books and we were go­ing to take a dark, sexy, ex­cit­ing ap­proach on this ma­te­rial and freshen it up a bit. In the books, there’s won­der­ful de­scrip­tions of what the In­sti­tute looks like. We did our up­dated version of the In­sti­tute’s ap­pear­ance, yet still gave a nod to things men­tioned in the book.”

While em­bark­ing on her jour­ney, Clary de­vel­ops feel­ings for fel­low Shad­owhunter, Jace. And there was an­other con­tro­ver­sial ro­mance that also needed to be ad­dressed.

“We be­lieve that the Magnus/Alec dy­namic is unique in fan­tasy movies,” says Decter. “There’s not that many that have a cen­tral gay re­la­tion­ship. We wanted to add some twists and turns for the fans of the books that they will not ex­pect, but then also hon­our that kind of land­mark re­la­tion­ship in a huge way.”

Shad­owhunters isn’t all teen drama. With a log­line that states, “All the leg­ends are true”, Decter prom­ises plenty of con­flict and fight­ing be­tween the var­i­ous su­per­nat­u­ral fac­tions.

“There’s all the dif­fer­ent realms of the Down­world, so we have vam­pire ac­tion, we have were­wolf ac­tion and we have the Fair Folk ac­tion,” re­ports Decter. “There’s mys­ti­cism. We have war­locks who de­liver a lot of magic and ac­tion. It’s a very VFX heavy show and we try to de­liver a couple of sig­na­ture pieces of both ac­tion and vis­ual ef­fects ev­ery episode.”

The Harry Pot­ter films raised the bar on YA, fan­tasy prop­er­ties. Other fare such as Beau­ti­ful Crea­tures and The Seeker: The Dark Is Ris­ing at­tempted to du­pli­cate that suc­cess, but failed mis­er­ably. Decter be­lieves Shad­owhunters’

We are go­ing to take a dark, sexy, ex­cit­ing ap­proach on this ma­te­rial

char­ac­ters, mythol­ogy and themes will help the TV se­ries break away from the pack.

“There’s a po­lit­i­cal struc­ture gov­ern­ing all th­ese worlds, which the Shadow hun­ters ad­min­is­trate and which the vil­lain is try­ing to de­stroy,” Decter con­cludes. “What hap­pens di­rectly af­fects vam­pires, were­wolves and war­locks and they are all in­ter­con­nected. Wo­ven within this story struc­ture is a very po­lit­i­cal tale, as well as a very ro­man­tic and per­sonal tale. That’s what makes it in­ter­est­ing.”

Shadow hun­ters airs on ABC Fam­ily from 12 Jan­uary 2016. A UK air­date is TBC.

Hunt­ing for shad­ows? Just look down, chumps, they’re right there!

If you don’t enjoy the show you can enjoy the shirts.

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