Legion of Leia: Tell us all about the show and your role in it.
Chad Collins: “Extinct” is a new action-adventure sci-fi series from BYUtv premiering Sunday, October 1st at 6pm PT. The story revolves around an Earth where the human race has been annihilated by an alien invasion: mankind is officially extinct, in the full-blown Darwin sense of the word. About 400 years pass, and a small band of humans find themselves reconstituted – or “reborn” – in the prime of their lives by a seemingly benevolent alien species, with their brain states and memories completely intact. Our benefactors claim that they want to help us restore the human race, yet couldn’t be more cryptic, so we are all strangers on a strange new Earth trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, on the run from the original parasitic alien threat, and struggling to reconcile our pasts while searching for answers about our new purpose after having been given a second chance at life.
I play ‘Ezra,’ who is the first “reborn” we meet. ‘Ezra’ is a (The Walking Dead‘s) ‘Rick Grimes’-lite of sorts; he’s former military and a family man, with a fierce protective streak and leadership qualities, so he is more or less the de facto alpha of the reborns. What makes ‘Ezra’ and all of the reborns interesting is that they remember their past lives, their happier days, and the devastation of the invasion in full detail, yet all of their loved ones are gone. Not one to settle for hopelessness, it’s ‘Ezra’s’ determination to find some way to be reunited with his family that drives his character forward despite the staggering odds.
Legion of Leia: The show premieres on October 1. How do you feel, knowing people are finally going to see all the work you put in?
Chad Collins: I’m truly excited for our show to air, for many reasons! For starters, the interesting thing about the series playing on BYUtv is that our show completely fits within the framework of the network’s motto, which is “See the good in the world.” We made a show that is a non-stop, action-packed thrill-ride, but it is never about the shock-and-awe factor like you will find in a Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. I love that we created a deep, engaging universe that has something for all ages, all walks of life, and at no point in the 10 episodes will anyone have to cover their eyes or leave the room for any reason, very much like the way that the Star Trek TV franchises approached it. Having appeared on Once Upon a Time, it’s quite lovely to again be a part of a new show that an entire family can watch and enjoy.
Chad Collins: We filmed Extinct entirely in the wonderful state of Utah from August 2016 through February 2017, and about 75% of the series was shot outdoors on location. It was my first time traveling to and working in Utah, and the state is truly amazing in terms of it’s natural diversity and landscapes. We shot the first episode in St. George, in southern Utah, in the desert surrounded by petrified sand dunes in 115-degree heat, and from there we bounced all around the state. We were in lakes, we were up in the mountains, underground in lava tubes, in caves, covered in snow, rained on, and more. The entire series feels so epic because of the way the brilliant show creators so masterfully took advantage of the terrain and the seasons. It was challenging, being exposed to the elements incessantly, but between all the natural wonder and the VFX shot additions of aliens, spaceships and more, our audience will never be bored!
Our crew also built us some truly amazing indoor sets, from alien spaceship interiors to primitive tribal villages and more. Extinct has such a “greatest sci-fi hits” feel to it in the way that we’ve got a lot of requisite alien species and technology, yet we also capture the post-apocalyptic nature of being centuries ahead, which by default includes a medieval throwback feel to the show since human beings are basically starting over and re-purposing whatever they can get their hands on, hunting with bow and arrow, and more. One of the elements of the show that I really enjoyed was the brilliant way that our writer, New York Times best-selling author Aaron Johnston, incorporated character flashbacks throughout the series, which gives the audience a look into the past lives that these characters remember, whether it’s having tender moments with loved ones or enduring the onslaught of the alien invasion as part of the human resistance. So, in essence, Extinct is basically an all-ages combination of Mad Max, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Star Trek and Lost.
Legion of Leia: You guys did ten episodes. Do you think that’s the future of TV? Even network shows are streamlining their storytelling.
Chad Collins: I think it is, honestly! With so much wonderful choice in this ever-growing streaming TV world, I think more and more audiences are starting to prefer amazing storytelling done more concisely. I know that with Extinct, we had a lower-than-normal budget compared to a major network, one main writer, and a crew about one-half to one-third the size of a normal network show crew, so it was challenging just to make 10 episodes, but there was no room for excess or waste; we didn’t have the option of trying to stretch the story out to fill even 13 episodes, but I think the overall series is better for that reason. I know that we aimed for quality over quantity, which audiences really seem to appreciate these days.
Legion of Leia: How does it feel to have so much buzz around the show?
Chad Collins: Having just returned from a blitzkrieg weekend up at Salt Lake Comic Con, I got to witness firsthand the buzz and excitement about our show. It was so nice to interact with fans of all walks of life there, and to either hear their excitement outright or talk to them about Extinct and then see their eyes light up if they hadn’t yet heard about the show. The sci-fi fan universe is so rabid and loyal and always ready to explore a new fictional world, and Extinct is a show that is going to feel both familiar and brand-spankin’ new in the best ways possible to these fans, and they are really going to get to take a ride with us in fun and exciting ways!
Are you guys excited for Extinct? Let us know in the comments! Watch Extinct on the free BYUtv app on Roku, Apple TV, Xbox One, and more or download the free BYUtv app for iOS and Android. You can also watch Extinct for free via BYUtv.org.