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by Alison Willmore
March 15, 2013 4:20 PM
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Kevin Murphy Talks Syfy's TV Series/Transmedia Project 'Defiance,' Mythology Coordinators and the Second Season That's Already in the Works

'Defiance': The game Trion

Do you have any idea what percentage of people watching and playing will be in that Venn diagram center?

I have no idea. I suspect somebody among the assembled legions of SyFy and Trion have an idea, I just don’t know what it is. I hope it’s a lot, because the bigger that segment is, the more likely we can make the crossovers more meaningful -- and that is to me more exciting. I’m much more interested in breaking new ground with something that hasn’t been done before, because that’s what you get into the business to do. I want to tell more cross-platform stories.

Sci-fi as a genre has a legacy of fans who are detail-oriented, but with TV in general now people are more completist, making their way through back-catalogues of shows that are now more accessible.

It's interesting that you brought that up because that’s something that we have discovered recently. It’s almost like a third portal has begun to crop up. We are getting very complex with a lot of our mythology material as far as documents released on Tumblr. We have a mythology coordinator and I go through him, and Bill and Nick from the game vet everything, but basically one of the ideas I have is that there is this communicade between two of the characters on the show that talks in great depth about one of the big mysteries that we are putting out on Tumblr. However, because of a military thing, it has been redacted -- and the idea here is that when you achieve things in the game you will get a code that will un-redact things in the document. That’s one of the things that we are trying to work out.

How do you go about keeping an eye on the whole universe as you have?

Our mythology coordinator [Brian Alexander] takes the point on that. This is a guy I have worked with for a long time. He was a script coordinator on "Desperate Housewives" -- I was on that for the first couple of years -- and I stole him once again to come work on this show.

He sort of fell into the idea of helping us keep the mythology straight. We all had big bibles at the beginning but no one was keeping them up to date, so they became useless because there are a million new ideas happening. He basically maintains an ongoing wiki, which allows anyone on the production staff, the costume department and the game side to instantly get access to all of the show’s designs and designs for the game.

We know what Canada’s like, we know what Scotland’s like, and one day we’ll tell the story of what that is, but we haven’t yet. As a result we are able to tease and reference those things and Brian is able to keep that straight. So whenever I’m in the writer’s room and someone asks a question like, “Hey, how do they go to the bathroom in 'Defiance'?" I’m like “That’s a great idea. Go away and come back in 24 hours and I want a book report.” And they write a report, I put my notes on it and it goes into the wiki.

Kevin Murphy at SXSW Syfy
In terms of the “Defiance” deputy ships, that was something where a question was asked and we had a writer on staff who was an L.A. County Sheriff's deputy. He figured out the legal system as a system of private prisons. So Las Vegas, which is now marshlands and volcanoes, has become a private prison, and we developed with the game who the character is that runs the prison, he has some connections to some of our characters, and now that’s there in the wiki.

Now in the TV show when we travel to Las Vegas in season two, we know everything there is to know about the various people there. When we find something that doesn’t reconcile between the game and the TV show we either fix it or come up with a reason why it exists that way.

Does that position exist anywhere else? It feels like something that should exist more.

It feels like a job I want to have. It’s the ultimate super fan job because your job is to pick out the inconsistencies and then get paid for it.

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