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June 20, 2018

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Hit + Run’s Rob Shaftel Talks I Was Prey
By Sara Alessi

***ZDFE Factual***Finding yourself face-to-face with an aggressive bear or in the clutches of a shark’s powerful jaws is the stuff of nightmares. Yet those are exactly the types of situations the individuals featured on Animal Planet’s I Was Prey—produced by New York-based Hit + Run—find themselves in. While it’s safe to assume no one wants to be in their shoes, TV audiences in the U.S. and around the world are having a hard time turning away from the harrowing, near-death experiences they share on screen.

***Image***As Rob Shaftel, founder and executive producer at Hit + Run, explains, I Was Prey takes a unique approach to retelling the terrifying stories of animal attacks. “Previously, most shows in this genre focused primarily on the animal attacks and conflicts, not the people. We allow the stories to take the main stage and it pays off. More networks are contacting us to crack spaces in more creative ways.”

And that is how I Was Prey was born. As Shaftel tells TV Real Weekly, “Kurt Tondorf [the senior VP of development at Animal Planet] came to us and asked us to crack a ‘personal ordeal’ show. We pitched him I Was Prey with the angle that we would go against the grain by leaning heavy on story and sound and not gruesome animal-attack footage.”

“We took a much different creative approach on this show; there are no actors in re-creations, [there’s] hardly any footage of animals, no experts, etc.,” he says. Instead, viewers see two survivors per episode recount the details of attacks carried out by sharks, chimpanzees, grizzly bears and other creatures.

“Sound design is really the secret sauce of I Was Prey,” Shaftel adds. “Most people would think that music drives suspense, but in I Was Prey, the suspense comes from a lot of dramatic pauses and sound design of the environments where the attacks take place.”

Season two, which premiered on Animal Planet over the weekend for a 13-episode run, continues to use sound to create drama and draw viewers into the animal-attack victims’ plight. “This season, we have a Foley artist creating custom sounds to bring the environments to life even more so than in season one,” Shaftel explains. “The Foley designer has the ability and knowledge to differentiate between something like different depths of being underwater, which lends the moment more authenticity.”

This article continues here.

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