61st Monte-Carlo TV Festival: ‘The Terminal List’ – Amazon’s New Action Film in 8 Chapters
Based on the best-selling novel by Jack Carr, ‘The Terminal List’ follows James Reece (Chris Pratt), a Navy Seal who survived an ambush on his regiment during an important covert mission. Reece returns to his family with painful memories of the event and questions his responsibility for the tragedy. But as new evidence emerges, he discovers that a shadowy organization is working against him, endangering not only his own life, but the lives of those he loves...’The Terminal List’ is directed by Antoine Fuqua with Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) and Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights, John Carter), and will be available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video July 1, 2022.
Writer and producer/showrunner David Digilio and Kitsch attended a press conference in Monte-Carlo and revealed details about the action series which had its European premiere at the Festival. The action-thriller comes from Indivisible Productions, Fuqua Films, Amazon Studios and Civic Center Media, in association with MRC Television.
David Digilio commented that the project is not a TV show but rather a film in 8 chapters and there is no way it could have been made for network TV, such a series cannot be sustained by TV nets, they don’t have the resources. Streaming services have ‘blurred the lines’ between cinema and TV and a project of such scope could be realized on the small screen only by them. Director Antoine Fuqua talked the day before about ‘cinevision’ and Digilio noted that they had to work with his scope and achieve it on a TV schedule and Fuqua talked to all episodic directors, some of the top names in Hollywood and he conveyed to them the framing, the composition- the things that make it so big. The real challenge is that it is a location-based show on the streets of LA with scenes shot in 2-3 days instead of 2-3 weeks. ‘I’ve tried to make a location-based action show for a network and it just simply can’t be sustained…You simply don’t have the resources when you’re working in the broadcast form.’ He added that ‘cinevision’ can apply not only to the lensing but also to the cast – this is where the blend is really happening.
As far as preferences to shooting in movies or on television, Kitsch commented that he grew up on film but ‘storytelling-wise, which is most important for me, I do like the long-form, you have more time on character development and the story and as a viewer it is better for me… you can play more complex characters that way if you have eight hours. There are just some stories that need the six to eight hours.’ Digilio added that TV is character-driven medium; Chris (Pratt) comes from the Marvel universe, from the Jurassic franchise but he read the book and said ‘I had to play this character’. Digilio added that Pratt and Fuqua were pursuing the rights to the book simultaneously, both talking to the author at the same time and it was better to team together rather than compete for it. Digilio also said that the project was a chance for Pratt to do something a little “darker” and viewers will see him the way viewers have not seen him before.
Following the premiere at the Festival the evening before, Digilio commented that there was a silence after the shocking ending and it was nice to walk into the room and see the silence and then see people brighten and come into the questions. Regarding the sudden ending of the first episode, the showrunner said that for network television such ending would be a “no” but since they knew it will be binge-watched, they opted for this.
Kitsch talked about his character in the series – Ben Edwards – who is best friends and brother to Pratt’s character James Reece and that he is a guy from the West Coast, a fun to play character, spending a lot of time in the make-up chair because of the many tattoos, with the tattoo artist creating them playing a crucial role.
As far as their work with director Antoine Fuqua, Digilio said that working with him was a dream since nobody does the military action better than him, he is incredible with actors in character. He approaches all of the action and the violence in the show as character, everything is related to then what the characters play and what they are going to do later in the series which is in the beginning a psychological thriller as the main character tries to understand what happened, then there’s revenge thriller as he begins to build his list and act on it and there is a conspiracy thriller that puts the final pieces of what’s actually going on.
Digilio noted that a lot of the actors are actual Navy Seals, a lot of the dialogue in the opening scene was pulled so more authenticity could be achieved and ¾ of the people moving in the opening scene thru the tunnels are Navy Seals.
Regarding the adaptation of Carr’s book, Digilio said that keeping the authenticity of the novel was paramount. He treats weapons, vehicles, tools as characters. The showrunner also revealed details about the research and the advisory team of the series, noting that Carr himself was involved.
Digilio also noted that nowadays there is a lot of competition for the eyeballs, a lot of content and nowadays everything is IP-driven so as a creator is important to find the IP that excites you.