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Viewpoint: Bringing a noir twist to ID’s “Bloodlands”

Tom Cappello (pictured), exec producer and co-founder of Crazy Legs Productions, explains how a putting a noir spin on true crime series Bloodlands helped sell the show to Investigation Discovery.
August 8, 2014

Tom Cappello (pictured), exec producer and co-founder of Crazy Legs Productions, explains how a putting a noir spin on true crime series Bloodlands helped sell the show to Investigation Discovery, which airs Monday nights on the U.S. cable net.  

People love to go behind the scenes of a TV series.  And when you pull the curtain back on the making of a true crime series, you can always expect the unexpected. Crazy Legs Productions’ newest creation, Bloodlands, premiered on Investigation Discovery on Monday night (August 4).  But what makes it special? And why should you bother to tune into the next episode?

The answer is easy: we are bringing moody noir with a twist to ID. Just like the Coen Brothers bring the plains of Texas or frigid tundra of South Dakota alive, or the way the mystique of the Louisiana Bayou permeates every frame of True Detective.

The big characters in our stories are grounded in American landscapes. They are the eerie backdrop to some startling human drama that is filled with intrigue, mystery and – if we are doing our job right – raw, punch-you-in-the-gut emotion.

That is what I believe sets our series apart. Like everyone doing true crime, we do extensive research – six long months of research – but we spend just as much time uncovering the emotion and personality of these real American tragedies as we do the facts of the cases.

We want audiences to engage with our characters on their emotional journey; feel how these crimes affect both family and community – life altering moments that tug at your heart strings. That’s what is most important to us as storytellers.

Bringing the sense of place and the spirit of our victims alive with compelling visuals; pinpoint writing; and sensitive, painstakingly crafted first-person interviews, where we give our subjects the freedom and time to tell the story as they want and need to tell it. It is their voices that serve as our guide in how we tell the story and what re-enactments we film to visualize this setting.

And for television shows to be compelling, you need to create a world, a mood, a visual style that brings people back for more. We have a team that endured single-digit temperatures, late night shoots into the early dawn, and an unforgiving pace on set, all while rolling with the punches of last minute story changes.

We choose to shoot with feature film-style cameras that really push the envelope on what we can deliver on demanding budgets.  We do this because we want our re-enactments to feel every bit as big and lush as fiction-based episodic dramas found on FX or AMC. That’s our competition, and those are the standards we hold ourselves too..

The stories we were able to uncover during our research will transport viewers to some startling places. In our premiere episode, a Rocky Mountain community is shaken when the body of a loving mother is found beheaded at the bottom of Lefthand Canyon.

And throughout our six episode run, we visit a foreboding lake in South Carolina; a desolate, unforgiving desert in Nevada; a hellish mountain in Tennessee; a harsh, haunting prairie in Texas; and a frost-covered forest on the outskirts of Boston. Every place beautiful. every place deadly.

We are extremely proud and excited with how this series turned out. It was an idea that was born out of last year’s Realscreen conference on the heels of our existing ID series Swamp Murders. And now Bloodlands has been fully realized.  In this collaborative medium of television, I can honestly say this was a huge team effort and I am humbled by the love and care that was taken by our crew and cast to deliver a great, edge-of-your-seat crime thriller each week.

  • FremantleMedia International will distribute Crazy Legs Productions’ Bloodlands and Your Worst Nightmare at October’s MIPCOM in Cannes.
About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.

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