Interview with True Blood Co-Producer Bruce Dunn

February 8, 2009 by  

True BloodMarkee Magazine recently interviewed Bruce Dunn the co-producer of Alan Ball’s hit HBO TV series “True Blood”. Bruce Dunn has co-produced True Blood, Episode 1: “Strange Love” and various other projects including “Tell Me You Love Me”, “Local Color”, “Kingdom Hospital” and has also associate produced “Californation”, “The Path to 9/11”, “Desperation”, “Sleeper Cell”, “The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer”, “Rose Red”, “Storm of the Century”, “The Siege at Ruby Ridge” and “Sophie & the Moonhanger”.

Markee Magazine asked Mr. Dunn questions regarding the filming of True Blood in the Shreveport, Louisiana area. Mr. Dunn confirmed that certain parts of Shreveport are filmed and used in True Blood to convey a sense of realism for the show. Some of the scenes that are shot in Shreveport are the town of Bon Temps, the exterior of Jason’s and Bill’s house and the trailer that was destroyed by a tornado in season 1. Mr. Dunn states that they will return to Shreveport for Season 2 to continue the visual effects of the Louisiana setting in the story and states that the tax incentives and the great crews in the area helped with their decision to shot there. Since Season 2 is based on Book 2 of the Sookie Stackhouse series “Living Dead in Dallas”, Mr. Dunn mentions that they may do some shooting in Dallas.

In regards to the various technical aspects behind the series Mr. Dunn explains it is the result of different departments coming together and creating the illusion of the world of True Blood. Markee Magazine asked Mr. Dunn to explain the concept behind the opening credits of True Blood and how it all came together. Mr. Dunn states:

“Digital Kitchen did the title montage. They worked on the opening sequence for Six Feet Under so Alan had a relationship with them. Their storyboards for the initial presentation blew us away – they really caught the flavor of what we were looking for. One of the mandates was to sell Louisiana, to let viewers know they were going to see something quirky and visit locations they’d never been to before.”

Mr. Dunn states that the different looks in the various scenes of True Blood are result of different techniques. In the scenes where Sookie is listening in on other people’s thoughts R!OT colorist Scott Klein and pilot DP Checco Varese used various techniques of highlighting and changing the brightness on the film to emphasize the film grain therefore differentiating Sookie’s “visualizations” from the norm. For the flashback scenes the DPs used special lens (Deakinizer lens named after Roger Deakins) to create a vignette around the frame and in postproduction Zoic Sudios then emphasized the lens look.

Mr. Dunn explains that there is a great deal of visual special effects that goes into the making of True Blood. The different crews involved in creating the specials effects are Zoic Studios for the digital VFX and Masters FX for the makeup effects. An interesting statement that Mr. Dunn makes is that the fangs that we see on the vampires may be the result of two different effects. If the vampires are to have their fangs out for an extended time the people from MastersFX uses prosthetics that are placed in the actor’s mouth. If the visuals effect is to have the fangs extend and then retract, the people from Zoic Studios add them in by way of digital VFX. The way that vampire fangs work are similar to those of snakes. The fangs remain tucked in the mouth and when needed unfold from the back forward. Mr. Dunn states that “you can see the CG mechanics in certain scenes”. Mr. Dunn explains in detail the mechanics involved in the Longshadow death scene. He states:

“Zoic created [vampire] Longshadow’s death and deterioration with an entirely CG actor – it’s probably the costliest effect in the show. They also did the V hallucinations [which occur when mortals drink vampire blood] which have been a lot of fun – sparks flying out of trees, the love scene swimming through a shared-experience dreamscape. The backgrounds were imagined after the water-tank shoot with the actors; it was Alan’s idea that they all be based in nature – in a forest, with waterfalls”.

Markee Magazine asked Mr. Dunn to elaborate on the theme song that is used in the show, Jace Everett’s “Bad Things” and the concept of Sookie hearing other people’s thoughts. Mr. Dunn states that Technicolor Sound works on ways to convey the illusion of thoughts coming in from various different sources without it being too confusing.

“We use sound effects coming in and out of the thought process, then reverse dialogue and EQ it in a certain way to make it very clear that what Sookie hears is specific to her. It’s important for the storyline that the process be intelligible when we want it to be and cacophonous at other times.”

In regards to composer Nathan Barr, Mr. Dunn states that he did a great job in producing music that capture the spirit of the show and the emotions that need to be conveyed. With the love theme song that Mr. Barr created to emphasize Bill and Sookie’s attraction and feelings, he developed a score that had “both an Old World feel, since Bill comes from the Civil War era, and the feel of something timeless. The Civil War flashbacks have banjos and cellos, there’s an African sub-theme for the voodoo exorcism, big-string power hits for the scary parts and, always, the flavor of Louisiana”.

Markee Magazine asked Mr. Dunn if there are any changes for Season 2 to which Mr. Dunn responded by stating that everybody in the various departments work so well together that he does not see any changes occurring for season 2. In closing Mr. Dunn states that he has never worked on a show that has “spoken to fans like True Blood has”. Also he states that everybody is excited to do season 2 thanks to Alan Ball and the material that they get to work with.


(Photo credit: HBO Inc.)