A lot of fuss has been made over Lennie James’ Morgan crossing over from the original recipe that is The Walking Dead to the extra crispy companion series that is Fear the Walking Dead. It even seems like the actor and character will appear on both shows in the same evening — with April 15 marking the season finale of TWD and the season premiere of Fear.
But James is not the only one from the mothership to hop a flight to Austin, Texas, to be a part of the revamped spin-off. Michael E. Satrazemis, who has been TWD’s longtime director of photography while also directing 12 episodes (including “The Grove” and March 11’s “Dead or Alive Or”) has also joined the Fear team as a directing-producer to help mold the new look for the show. However, unlike James — who talked openly about saying goodbye to The Walking Dead cast and crew to move over full-time to his new venture — Satrazemis (seen above with Norman Reedus and below with Jeffrey Dean Morgan) will be pulling double-duty on both shows. (Season 4 of Fear has ben filming during TWD’s hiatus that started in late-November.) “I’m going straight back,” says Satrazemis about what happens after Fear wraps. “I’m in a year-round apocalypse!”
Echoing what The Walking Dead comic and Fear creator Robert Kirkman told us, as well as new showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, Satrazemis says to expect a lot of changes with the new team both in front of and behind the camera. “We’re switching things up a bunch this season,” he says, “and really brought in a new look and a new atmosphere. We’re upping the story now and I’m really happy with what’s going on right now. I feel like it’s its own very unique show from The Walking Dead, even with Morgan coming over. It’s a different vibe from the first three seasons. I’m really proud of what we’re doing and really excited for the fans to watch. I hope that it resonates with them the same way it is with me.”
Satrazemis says the new team assembled by The Walking Dead TV franchise overseer Scott M. Gimple is all gelling. “I’m really, really loving working with Ian and Andrew. They are fantastic and amazingly talented writers. They work so well together. I think we all do. I really couldn’t be happier. I’m so excited. I just hope it resonates.”
While there will be plenty of new faces on screen — Jenna Elfman, Garret Dillahunt, and Maggie Grace are among the new cast members joining James and the holdovers from the first three seasons — Fear will also be incorporating a different visual style in season 4, and one which will harken back to a classic film genre. “We’re going composition forward,” says Satrazemis. “When Ian and Andrew brought me in, that was one of the first conversations: ‘What do you think we could do to keep making this powerful?’ We went back to the old Western vibe with big and wide frames, and holding frames. We’ve slowed the cutting pattern down and really kind of play a lot of that Western vibe. After all, we are in Austin. It is Texas.”
Speaking of Austin, shooting on the outskirts of the Texas capital has its advantages, especially of the culinary variety. “I found my favorite [BBQ] spot,’ says Satrazemis. “I feel like I keep picking locations [to film] somewhere near that spot just so when we’re on break I can eat lunch. I’m like, ‘Wow. This location again is right by Black’s!’
Hopefully he can tell the difference between the meat and the ample zombie guts sure to also be on display.
Fear the Walking Dead returns right after the season finale of The Walking Dead on April 15 on AMC. For scoop on both shows, follow Dalton on Twitter @Dalton Ross.