AMC Twitter Q&A with Dave Kajganich and Soo Hugh

Showrunners Dave Kajganich and Soo Hugh took part in a Twitter Q&A while the show was first airing in 2018.

@TheTerrorAMC: Before the next new episode of #TheTerror, Showrunners Dave Kajganich and @shugh100 will be answering your questions about the series. Reply to this tweet with your question and stay tuned to see if yours gets answered on Monday. [3:41 PM · Apr 25, 2018]

Question: [From a private account]
Answer: Every day on set was a master class w/this cast. And no, we didn’t go in with specific names. We had the rare luxury of taking our time bc not only did we have to find the “right” actors but also the right chemistry in ensemble. One of my favorite parts of making this show -Soo [8:21 PM · Apr 30, 2018]
Answer: We didn’t imagine actors in roles while writing. Instead, we read with many. Our genius casting director, Kate Rhodes James, brought actors in who had intriguing nervous systems, and who were known to be generous people. We built a true ensemble that had each other’s backs. -Dave [6:20 PM · May 3, 2018]

Question: It would’ve been easy to allow this to devolve into a typical supernatural monster movie, but the real terror is the slow descent into mental and physical hell and how it transforms the characters. Did you struggle with how much emphasis to place on Tuunbaq?
Answer: We knew from the outset this couldn’t be an “attack of the week” show. Characters needed to drive the plot, to prioritize the psychological over the supernatural. It helped we had a lean budget; We had to deploy creature vfx shots sparsely and smartly. It was a fun puzzle! -Dave [8:39 PM · Apr 30, 2018]
Answer: Once we decided we could use the Tuunbag w/more deliberate strokes and not feature him in every episode, we realized how much more space we had for other stories. And you’re right! The other “terrors” haunting our men are just as scary, if not more, than the “monster”. -Soo [5:37 PM · May 2, 2018]

Question: [From a now deleted account]
Answer: It makes our jobs a million times easier when the source material is as good & rich as ours. But the jump from written words to the visual medium is tricky & to have a character be seen and never heard is problematic, esp for one of the few women. It was just intuitive for us. -Soo [9:26 PM · Apr 30, 2018]
Answer: We wanted no villains or heroes in the show, and once we decided that, it gave us a first principle for what to keep and what to cut or rebuild from the novel. We also wanted a narrative that unpacked the idea of the “other” in an active way for the audience. -Dave [7:36 PM · May 3, 2018]

Question: Was there subtle improv by the actors and did they have any influence in the development of their character ?
Answer: In part because of our specific take on Victorian language, actors weren’t able to improvise. But we were very encouraging of actors to bring their own research or insights to us to try to make their scenes as emotionally, thematically, and historically rich as possible. -Dave [9:40 PM · Apr 30, 2018]
Answer: I wouldn’t call it improv but all the discussions before the actual shooting was so helpful in blooming all the nuanced turns in a scene. Our actors came in so prepared and with questions that poked and prodded scenes to be better. -Soo [6:10 PM · May 2, 2018]

Question: What will you be wearing when you accept all the awards? Real Question: why did you choose those last flashes of memory for Franklin as he’s going down the hole? In particular, why is his last thought a stolen glimpse of Crozier and Sophia secretly holding hands?
Answer: We love the ambiguity of those flashes! We were so heartened to see those glimpses of Franklin’s memories worked as we intended in the edit. Some of us may read that last image as Franklin’s final regret. Some may read as the true manifestation of his anxiety. Both right! – Soo [9:56 PM · Apr 30, 2018]
Answer: Givenchy. Just kidding! For Franklin’s last thoughts, we wanted it to feel like, in his final moments, things from his id were just hemorrhaging out–anxieties, metaphors, failures. We chose images that only people who’ve been paying close attention to the show might get. -Dave [7:53 PM · May 3, 2018]

Question: [From a now deleted account]
Answer: We wanted to give “Lady Silence” a full arc that was not subservient to any British character. In many important ways her arc is the same as Crozier’s–but even more consequential. We wanted to express that, but on her terms. -Dave [10:11 PM · Apr 30, 2018]
Answer: If we had to categorize her arc, it would fit under the “coming of age” label-someone who did not want this responsibility and did not think of herself as ready. When you see her full arc, you see someone “grow up” right before your eyes. Nive’s performance is astonishing. -Soo [8:23 PM · May 3, 2018]

Question: What was the most challenging aspect of the set design?
Answer: Not having enough space! Despite having five sound stages over two countries, our main hero stage with the ship wasn’t large enough so we had to rejigger constantly. It was tremendous work for the crew. -Soo []
Answer: I would say it was finding creative ways to cope with relatively small sound stages. We didn’t want to break up the top deck into parts, and we wanted the spaces below decks to run the length of the actual ship. It was tight for lighting and shooting, but we did it! -Dave [8:40 PM · May 3, 2018]

Question: Are any of you eager to go on an arctic cruise after making this show? #TheTerror
Answer: I badly want to go on a Nat Geo cruise of the N’west Passage (which stops on King William Island). But everyone would be wondering: “Why is that man crying all the time?” One of our writers’ friends went and sent us a shale from KWI. I kept it in my pocket during the shoot. -Dave [10:40 PM · Apr 30, 2018]
Answer: Yes! But with an emergency escape plan that doesn’t involve walking overland for 800 miles. I want to see what they saw and experience their wonder! -Soo [7:16 PM · May 2, 2018]

Question: [From a now deleted account]
Answer: We can’t imagine our show without Marcus’ music. It is now inconceivable. One note, the cue at the 103 Eulogy is a track from Lustmord called “Goetia.” -Soo [11:01 PM · Apr 30, 2018]
Answer: I’ve been a fan of Marcus’ for many years and was stunned when he answered my initial email about the show. I particularly love the piece that winds through the first scenes of 110. And, of course, Goodsir’s final song. Marcus’ music was an epic gift for our show. -Dave [6:12 PM · May 4, 2018]

Question: What was the inspiration for the image of the creature? Is it based on Inuit history/legend description? Or an artist’s unique creation?
Answer: We took some elements of Dan’s description of the Tuunbaq from the novel, but wanted to make sure our depiction of it was less “monster” and more “myth.” Though intimidating, the Tuunbaq isn’t meant to be a scary thing. It’s a neutral, even regal, inside its own mythology. -Dave [11:19 PM · Apr 30, 2018]

Question: I’m amazed at the detail of the set design and the costume design which has a wide range from military uniform to indigenous clothing to Victoriana. How did you seek out the people to head these departments?
Answer: We were able to bring together a fantastic team of passionate and like-minded souls who were equally terrified as we were on how we were going to make this. But we all clutched hands and took the leap and it was marvelous teamwork. -Soo [11:45 PM · Apr 30, 2018]
Answer: A huge criteria for us was to find designers who were not going to let the Victorian elements step in front of character. We wanted the show to be accurate, but not fussy, or fetishistic about period, so we looked for collaborators who were excited by that idea. -Dave [7:00 PM · May 4, 2018]

Question: 2nd question: this is truly an ensemble piece, and considering the talent level amongst the cast it’s great to see each having their moment to shine. That said, do you have a favorite character?
Answer: I have favorites in each episode but I honestly couldn’t choose just one– too hard! What I love most are all of those “little” moments in scenes that are easy to blink past but do so much work in building our characters into fully realized people. -Soo [6:29 PM · May 1, 2018]
Answer: This is the question I feared someone would ask! It’s impossible. My answer changes every time I watch an episode, which is what we wanted. And this cast is so damn good. (For what it’s worth, I did take the BT TV quiz and ended up being a Goodsir.) -Dave [7:14 PM · May 3, 2018]

Question: Which character arcs were the most interesting to write and see develop throughout the making of the show?
Answer: All of them! Truly. But, Lady Silence was the biggest lift bc of our departure from the novel. I cried most in scenes between Crozier and Fitzjames, both on page and on screen. And of course Hickey’s. His character is often the lightning rod to the larger questions of humanity. [6:44 PM · May 1, 2018]
Answer: All of them! But the most rewarding for me were arcs like Hodgson’s, Jopson’s, or Bridgens’. They were so quiet in the scripts. Just a scene here or there. But with intelligent, humane actors like John Lynch, Liam Garrigan, and Christos Lawton, they carried so much voltage. -Dave [6:58 PM · May 3, 2018]

Question: [From a now suspended account]
Answer: Everything that takes place out on the ice was shot on sound stages outside Budapest. While it was often verrrrry cold (down to -15 some days), it was never inhospitable! The screens were green, though. A hellish hellish Kelly green. Oh my god, the green. Everywhere. Green. -Dave [8:01 PM · May 1, 2018]

Question: Absolutely fabulous set design. All done in studio? with real snow/ice?
Answer: When the men trek overland on King William Island, we moved our production to Pag island in Croatia. But the rest of the show was shot on sound stages in Budapest. NO SNOW WAS HARMED in the production of this show–we had no snow! -Soo [8:19 PM · May 1, 2018]

Question: Also curious: how much of the show’s story had to change with all the new information coming out in light of the discovery of the two wrecks? I’m also curious to know how much of the cast’s facial hair was real.
Answer: We originally had Terror destroyed after Carnivale, for instance, but once it was discovered both ships had been found far south of where they were frozen in, we revised scripts to accommodate that. Fitzjames’ Hair = Wig. Goodsir’s Glorious Muttonchops = 100% Paul Ready. -Dave [8:38 PM · May 1, 2018]

Question: I’ve heard about the scene with the polar cub being shot by Hickey (+ then eaten by an adult bear) having to be cut from ‘Go For Broke’, sadly losing some excellent foreshadowing. Are there any other scenes that you really liked but had to leave out for budgetary/timing reasons?
Answer: With relief, we can say there aren’t too many of those aches for us. In fact, there are quite a few scenes in the show that WERE cut and brought back to life later in production either bc we knew we needed them or we figured out a way to stuff them in our packed schedule. -Soo [8:56 PM · May 1, 2018]
Answer: Luckily, there weren’t many, but one that comes to mind is one between Manson (exquisitely played by Stephen Thompson) and Hickey over how to pack for the walk-out that we had to cut for time and still grieve over. It was beautiful. Hopefully AMC will release as an extra. -Dave [8:20 PM · May 4, 2018]

Question: what was the hardest part about adapting such a complex, multi-layered novel?
Answer: I’d say understanding how to pace Lady Silence’s arc. In the novel, most of what you understand about her and her cultural/mythological context comes all at once at the very end. But we wanted our audience to take a wider view of it with each new episode. -Dave [5:19 PM · May 2, 2018]

Question: Was this ever considered to be made into a movie and shown in theaters?
Answer: Yes! Originally, it was meant to become a feature film. It’s hard now to imagine that, as so many of my favorite scenes in the show would not have been possible in a feature-length adaptation. We’re hoping some movie theater does an all-night Terror marathon! -Dave [5:53 PM · May 2, 2018]

Question: [From a now deleted account]
Answer: You’d be surprised at how few scenes or character arcs were proposed, but not actually used. Our writers’ room had a very good handle on what we wanted to develop thematically, so that made it easier to chose the relationships we could unpack that would help us do that. -Dave [6:32 PM · May 2, 2018]

Question: There is an absolutely astounding cast on this show, how difficult was it in this day and age to get funding for a nearly all male cast? And just to say once more – absolutely fantastic show, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who started re-exploring the Franklin expedition!
Answer: A list of networks had a chance to greenlight this project and didn’t, so it was challenging. It’s certainly not a show that seems to play to the current zeitgeist. But it is an exploration–even an excoriation–of unacknowledged, white male entitlement, and AMC saw that. -Dave [8:45 PM · May 2, 2018]