Hit + Run’s Rob Shaftel Talks I Was Prey
By Sara Alessi
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.
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.
This Week's Top 5
Scooter Braun & JD Roth Launch Unscripted Content Studio
Scooter Braun, founder of SB Projects, and JD Roth, co-founder and former CEO of 3 Ball Entertainment, have formed a new unscripted content studio, GoodStory Entertainment.
ITV Commissions Two-Part Manson Family Documentary
The new ITV documentary series The Manson Family: The Lost Tapes (working title), produced by Naked Entertainment and sold by FremantleMedia International, features 100 hours of previously unseen footage.
New HBO Doc to Spotlight the Murder of Yusuf Hawkins
HBO has given the go-ahead to Storm Over Brooklyn, which won the inaugural Feature Documentary Initiative created by Lightbox and the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in an effort to encourage diversity in feature docs.
Nat Geo WILD Extends SharkFest to Two-Week Run
Nat Geo WILD’s SharkFest is returning this summer for an extended two-week run of shark-themed programming.
CNN Worldwide Alum Tapped for Discovery’s Motor Trend Group
Alex Wellen has been named to the post of president and general manager of Discovery’s Motor Trend Group.