Spells like teen spirit
Executive producer Ed Decter talks “Dark Knighting” the Mortal Instruments novels in Shadowhunters
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!
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