Peter Mohan (2008)

An interview with Peter Mohan about Blood Ties, the man behind a whole bunch of Canadian-produced SF TV shows. From Death Ray 10.

Midnight Maple

Q&A Peter Mohan

The showrunner and writer of Blood Ties has a long genre pedigree – Mutant X, Myth Quest, Relic Hunter, Psi Factor, Friday 13th, Highlander and numerous other Canadian SF shows have benefitted from the touch of his pen. We talked to him about bringing Tanya Huff’s Blood books to the telly as Blood Ties.

Guy Haley: It’s unusual to have a series made in Canada that’s actually set there!

Peter Mohan: That was a great draw for me. I’ve shot in Toronto and played it as Chicago, New York – everywhere. I thought finally I’m going to shoot Toronto for Toronto, but the irony is our financing package took us out to Vancouver.

GH: How do boundaries of ownership work on a show like this?

PM: I’ve had a great relationship with Tanya. As she’ll freely admit, she was at a point of her life where she needed some money, and realised people liked vampires. So she doesn’t feel she has to control the direction of the show. What I’ve taken from her books is that strong love triangle and the characters and made something which works for television. The novels were almost in the romance genre. It’s not the kind of thing that would attract male audiences or even a broad female audience [note from 2013, that’s changed, hasn’t it?]. Tanya was very helpful and very supportive throughout, I included her in the story department process and gave her an episode to write. She’s also been running a blog, fielding questions from the fans, and giving them tidbits of her involvement.

GH: Do you get people comparing it to Buffy?

PM: Strangely enough, no. A big one it’s getting a comparison to now is Moonlight, and thankfully we’re getting favourable mentions.

GH: How do you get a such a good looking show, I assume the budget isn’t huge…

PM: The budget is less than a million Canadian per episode, which for an hour is miniscule. A lot of it is planning and using our resources well. Our director of photography, Danny Nowak, gave it a world class look. The street scenes we shot in a street we built inside the studio, so we hardly ever left the building. I hate to ruin anybody’s illusions! We didn’t have a lot of money to throw around on visual effects and prosthetics, and so we used them sparingly, and tried not to accomplish something that we couldn’t accomplish well.

We also had a great composer named James Jandrich. I like a show to have a lot of music in it, and when we started he was screaming about how much work he was having to do, but by the end of it he was so involved he’d say “Okay, I’ve added a couple more scenes of music”. He did very little of that modern horror music – those reedy chords. He’d throw himself rapping or screaming into a microphone at 3 o’clock in the morning or something instead. It really helped the vibe of the show.

GH:Is there a danger you’ll run out of stories?

PM: There were only six books, and the stories weren’t necessarily the most suitable for the show, so we invented our own. Also, as a show like Supernatural will discover pretty quickly, you run out of classical monsters. You have to invent your own mythology.


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