Tag Archives: The Fugitive

On the run

Nick Santora, the creator of Quibi action-adventure series Most Dangerous Game, tells DQ about writing follow-up shortform drama The Fugitive and working for the fledgling streaming platform.

While the coronavirus pandemic has put a dent in the ambitions of shortform streamer Quibi, the company’s partnership with writer Nick Santora has certainly ensured early subscribers can enjoy plenty of pulsating action scenes and thrilling chases.

Santora is the creator and writer of Most Dangerous Game, Quibi’s standout scripted drama upon the platform’s launch in April, in which Liam Hemsworth’s character is offered the chance to win millions of dollars if he can evade a gang of hunters for 24 hours. Inspired by Richard Connell’s 1924 short story, the thriller was last month nominated for an Emmy for outstanding shortform comedy or drama series.

Santora is also responsible for Quibi’s latest action-adventure series, The Fugitive, which began its roll-out of daily episodes yesterday. Chapters of the 14-part series will launch every weekday until August 18.

Taking its lead from the 1993 film starring Harrison Ford, The Fugitive sees an innocent man on the run from the law, with Boyd Holdbrook’s ex-con Mike Ferro suspected of a bombing attack on the LA Metro. As the net closes in, Mike must find a way to clear his name while evading the efforts of Detective Clay Bryce (Kiefer Sutherland) to apprehend him.

Santora had finished writing Most Dangerous Game when Quibi co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg asked him to look at a script written by Albert Torres, in which an innocent man was accused of blowing up San Francisco’s BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system. “Jeffrey felt Albert’s script leaned a lot into politics and how politicians were trying to take advantage of the tragedy. He didn’t think that type of story would work well on Quibi, so he asked me if I would be willing to take the concept of the subway attack and the wrong man being accused and see if I could morph that into The Fugitive,” Santora tells DQ. “So that’s what I did.”

The Fugitive writer Nick Santora (left) with director Stephen Hopkins

Santora’s television career has seen him write on shows including iconic crime drama Law & Order, Prison Break, Breakout Kings, Vegas and action drama Scorpion, which he created. He says the biggest difference between working for Quibi and working for traditional networks is the amount of freedom he is afforded to tell his story.

“It’s 100% less painful,” he says. “Jeffrey Katzenberg, for whatever reason, digs the way I write and he’ll read stuff and greenlight it off of first drafts. When I say I get little to no notes, I mean a four-and-a-half minute conversation where it’s like, ‘Hey, we liked that one character. See if you can build her up a bit.’ I’ll say, ‘OK,’ and that’ll be it and we’re filming a few months later. Working with Quibi is fantastic. You go from ‘OK, start writing’ to ‘OK, start filming’ to ‘OK, you’re done’ in seven or eight months. If you like to get your stuff made, it’s a great place to work.”

The streamer is more hands-on when it comes to the casting process and finding locations, Santora notes, though the creative freedom is what makes it a special place to work. “You really get to make what you want to make,” he adds. “Quibi definitely has thoughts and opinions on things, but I haven’t come across a dictatorial attitude at all. That’s one of the best things as a writer. And I find writing for Quibi really hones your skills and forces you to be very disciplined. When you only have seven to 10 minutes to tell a story, you can’t waste any time.”

While the total running time of The Fugitive clocks in at just over two hours, Santora says he treats each chapter as he would an hour-long episode of broadcast television, with story and character arcs contained in each bitesized helping.

“The information in it has to move the story forward, it has to move the characters forward and the only way I can do that is to treat each episode respectfully,” he says. “You can’t treat an episode as a bridge to the next one. Saying it’ll get good in the next one is not an option with Quibi. You have to make sure each episode is like a Pringles chip, where you eat one and you want the next one and the next one and you can’t stop because it’s good.”

The Fugitive stars Boyd Holdbrook as a man on the run after being accused of a bombing attack

Santora breaks down the story visually, with cards on his office wall representing each scene that will hopefully answer the one question that is constantly running through his mind: what happens next? With several explosive set pieces in place throughout the series, he fills in the gaps by making sure each episode is the right length while also ensuring they all conclude with a nail-biting cliffhanger.

“It’s a little bit of art, a little bit of science. But it’s 100% challenging,” he says. “Quibi has absolutely made me a better writer 20 years into my writing career.”

He used the same process for Most Dangerous Game, but what he learned from writing that first Quibi series was the importance of each episode having its own story. “A viewer of one of my Quibi series needs to be able to look at it and say, ‘Oh, that’s the episode where…’ or, ‘That’s the episode when…’ If they have to use three or four sentences to describe the episode, I have failed,” Santora says. “It needs to have its own event, its own theme and its own arc, so you can say that’s the one where he learned his father had gone missing, that’s the one where he hijacks a subway car or the one where he jumps off a moving boat.”

Filming on The Fugitive took place in LA at the same time Most Dangerous Game was in production in Toronto. Santora doesn’t spend a lot of time on the set of his shows but, as an executive producer, he watched the dailies from both shows while also overseeing their post-production simultaneously.

Like the shows themselves, “it’s just exciting,” the writer says of working on two series at once. “We set up both shows in the same post house and there was one hallway five-and-a-half feet wide where on one side was The Fugitive and on the other side was Most Dangerous Game. I would run back and forth between each one. I was in a visual effects meeting for one and an editing meeting for another, then a sound meeting for one. That was fun because I could have both my teams in the same building.

24’s Kiefer Sutherland plays the detective pursuing Holdbrook’s Mike Ferro

“I’m not a big on-set guy. I prep in a very detailed way with my directors and department heads and make sure we’re all on the same page. We go over everything from wardrobe to locations and everything in between. But then I’m not involved on set. I’ll show up every once in a while, but the truth is I’m not needed there. I’m working on the dailies and making all my notes and making sure we get everything we need. I’m not going to sit there and tell a director how to direct. That’s not my job.”

The Fugitive was unaffected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and Santora says he isn’t planning to write new material set in a world where masks and social distancing are commonplace. “There are some writers who are writing Covid storylines in their TV series. The stuff I’m writing will not take place in that world and, frankly, that’s just because I had written almost all of it before Covid started,” he says. “There’s no point going back and doing a rewrite just where people have masks on. My hope and everyone’s hope is sometime in the near future we have treatments, vaccines and things of that nature that make all of this an awful memory.”

Quibi’s pitch as a commuter-friendly streaming service that offers bitesized chunks of television to be enjoyed on train or bus journeys to work may have fallen flat while the majority of people continue to work from home, but the short running time of each ‘chapter’ only heightens the demand to continue watching series like Most Dangerous Game and The Fugitive that end every episode on a knife-edge.

“If you like action-adventure where you love the hero, feel for the hero and even the ‘bad guy’ is not really a bad guy and you love addictive television, that’s why you should watch The Fugitive,” Santora adds. “That’s why you should watch Quibi.”

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Series to Watch: August 2020

DQ checks out the upcoming schedules to pick out 10 new dramas to watch this August, from a psychological thriller written by the creator of comedy Derry Girls to a bold and stylistic drama co-created by and starring Billie Piper.

The Deceived
From: UK
Original broadcaster: Channel 5
Starring: Emily Reid, Emmett J Scanlan, Catherine Walker, Eleanor Methven, Ian McElhinney, Shelley Conn, Dempsey Bovell, Paul Mescal
Air date: August 3
Written by Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee and Tobias Beer, this four-part psychological thriller set between Northern Ireland and Cambridge follows English university student Ophelia (Reid), who falls in love with her married lecturer (Scanlan, pictured). When their affair is interrupted by a shocking death, Ophelia finds herself trapped in a world where she can no longer trust her own mind.

The Fugitive
From: US
Original broadcaster: Quibi
Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Boyd Holbrook
Air date: August 3
From the creator of Quibi’s Most Dangerous Game comes The Fugitive, which is described as an edge-of-your-seat crime thriller that sees an innocent man on the run, desperate to clear his name, being pursued through LA by a cop who will not rest until he is captured. Fourteen ‘chapters’ will be released daily until August 18.

Little Birds
From: UK
Original broadcaster: Sky
Starring: Juno Temple, Yumna Marwan, Hugh Skinner, Nina Sosanya, David Costabile, Raphael Acloque, Rossy de Palma, Amy Landecker
Air date: August 4
Based on erotic vignettes by Anaïs Nin, Little Birds takes viewers into the mesmerising and intoxicating world of the Tangier International Zone of the 1950s. New York heiress Lucy Savage (Temple, pictured) arrives ready for love and marriage in exotic climes. But when her husband Hugo (Skinner) does not greet her in the way she expected, she steps out on her own. What she discovers is a world in flux, a country quivering on the cusp of independence, populated by a myriad of characters – including scandalous dominatrix Cherifa Lamor (Marwan), who particularly captures Lucy’s imagination.

The Rain (S3)
From: Denmark
Original broadcaster: Netflix
Starring: Alba August, Lucas Lyngaard Tønnesen, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Lukas Løkken, Sonny Lindberg, Clara Rosager, Natalie Madueño, Evin Ahmad, Rex Leonard, Johannes Bah Kuhnke, Jessica Dinnage, Angela Bundalovic, Lars Simonsen
Air date: August 6
The third and final season of the Danish post-apocalyptic series picks up where season two left off, years after the rain decimated the population of Scandinavia. With Simone (August, pictured) and Rasmus (Lyngaard) finding themselves at odds on how to save humanity, can they put their differences aside to do the right thing?

El robo del siglo (The Great Heist)
From: Colombia
Original broadcaster: Netflix
Starring: Andrés Parra, Christian Tappan, Marcela Benjumea, Juan Sebastián Calero, Waldo Urrego, Rodrigo Jerez, Katherine Vélez, Paula Castaño, Pedro Suárez, Édgar Vittorino, Ramsés Ramos, Juan Pablo Barragán
Air date: August 14
El robo del siglo (also pictured top) follows the real-life assault on Colombia’s Bank of the Republic in 1994, which became known as the ‘robbery of the century’ after a band of thieves stole US$33m and turned the whole country upside down.

Lovecraft Country
From: US
Original broadcaster: HBO
Starring: Jonathan Majors, June Smollett, Courtney B Vance, Michael Kenneth Williams, Aunjanue Ellis, Abbey Lee, Jada Harris, Wunmi Mosaku
Air date: August 16
Based on the novel by Matt Ruff, the 10-episode series follows Atticus Freeman (Majors) as he journeys with his childhood friend Letitia (Smollett) and his uncle George (Vance) on a road trip from Chicago across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father Montrose (Williams). Their search turns into a struggle to survive when they are forced to overcome both the racist terrors of white America and the emergence of monstrous creatures that could be ripped straight from an HP Lovecraft paperback.

Partisan
From: Sweden
Original broadcaster: Viaplay
Starring: Fares Fares, Johan Rheborg, Anna Björk, Sofia Karemyr, Emelie Garbers
Air date: August 16
Set in the idyllic Jordnära, a gated farming community that is seemingly perfect, Partisan centres on Johnny (Fares), who discovers not everything is as it should be and sets out to make things right.

I Hate Suzie
From: UK
Original broadcaster: Sky
Starring: Billie Piper, Daniel Ings, Leila Farzad, Nathaniel Martello-White
Air date: August 27
I Hate Suzie is pitched as a bold, bracing drama about the moment in life when the mask slips, asking if anyone can survive being well and truly ‘known.’ The series introduces Suzie Pickles (Piper, pictured), a star on the wane who has her whole life upended when she is hacked and pictures of her emerge in an extremely compromising position. The eight-part series shows her unravelling as the event ricochets around every area of her life. Suzie’s trauma is detailed through the stages – and episode titles – of Shock, Denial, Fear, Shame, Bargaining, Guilt, Anger and Acceptance as she and her best friend and manager Naomi (Farzad) try to hold her life, career and marriage to Cob (Ings) together.

Unsaid Stories
From: UK
Original broadcaster: ITV
Starring: Adelayo Adedayo, Joe Cole, Nicholas Pinnock, Yasmin Monet Prince, Nicole Lecky,
Air date: TBC
Inspired by the Black Lives Matters movement, this is a collection of four powerful and impactful short dramas illustrating the importance of black perspectives.
I Don’t Want to Talk About This tells the story of Thea, a middle-class black woman who is doing well for herself, who bumps into her former boyfriend, Tom, at a party. They end up reassessing their relationship and the challenges they faced being a middle-class black woman and a working-class white bloke and the insidious and undeniable impact of racism on their love and friendship.
Generational opens when Oliver catches his teenage daughter, Justina, sneaking out of the house to attend a Black Lives Matter march. He fears for his daughter’s safety and is concerned she’s putting herself at risk.
Lavender is about a new mother, Jordan, who has recently had a baby with a black man. The drama centres around an uncomfortable conversation had between Lyndsey, Jordan’s white mother, and her mixed-race daughter.
Look at Me tells the story of a young professional couple, Kay and Michael, who are both looking forward to their date. However, en route to the restaurant, they are stopped by the police. Back at Kay’s home, armed with a recording of what happened, we see the change in them from before the incident and the impact it has on them individually and as a couple.

Strike: Lethal White
From: UK
Original broadcaster: BBC/Cinemax
Starring: Tom Burke, Holliday Grainger, Robert Glenister, Natasha O’Keeffe, Kerr Logan
Air date: TBC
Burke and Grainger reunite for the fourth story in the Strike series, based on JK Rowling’s crime novels written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. In the grip of psychosis, a young man named Billy Knight arrives at private detective Cormoran Strike’s (Burke) office to tell the story of a child he saw strangled many years ago. Strike is simultaneously hired by government minister Jasper Chiswell (Glenister) to investigate Billy’s brother, Jimmy Knight, who is blackmailing him. As Strike and his partner Robin (Grainger) work to determine how the cases might be connected, Robin goes undercover in the House of Commons.

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