March 7, 2018 we entered the world of After Nightfall and above all else, we wanted to know just who killed Troy McLeavey. On October 2nd 2019 that question was answered.
In our final interview for After Nightfall, we hear from the man who brought the world to life, Wayne Tunks. Writer, director, producer, and the actor behind Colin McLeavey.
After the success of the first season, what were you most hoping to accomplish with season 2?
First and foremost, to answer the question that everyone wanted answered, “Who Killed Troy McLeavey?”. Everything was always going to lead up to that. I was also very excited to delve more into this world. I loved creating these characters and was keen to see them spread their wings more. Plus, there were some new people I was keen to add, people like Zara and Brenda, who I knew would be perfect to escalate the drama.
Was filming easier this time round given the experience of season 1? Or did it bring a whole new set of challenges with a bigger cast and new locations?
The big issue for Season 2 was scheduling. It gave me more than a few grey hairs. In Season 1, part of the casting process involved people’s schedules. But for Season 2 we had our cast and had to use them, and it just seemed that everyone was extra busy when we were shooting. The biggest thing to schedule was the funeral of Troy, we would need two days to shoot it, so organising to get most of the massive cast there was extreme. We only had to take one cast member out of the funeral as he would be interstate, everyone else we somehow got there, including Kristina (Ursula) and Perri (Narelle), who were flying up from Melbourne. It was incredibly satisfying when that shoot was done.
But the world of After Nightfall felt easier to recreate this season. We knew the look, the feel, and we knew these locations, so that made that part a little easier.
How did you manage to keep the continuity consistent, especially considering the time between filming Season 1 and 2?
A year between is a long time, and you will notice some changes. Colin had a beard in Season 1 but not in Season 2. It meant I wouldn’t be able to be in the flashbacks, so it was just lucky that we shot that dream sequence the year before. But I liked how Colin was missing; he was watching visions he had not seen before. Another cast member had dyed their hair, so we had to put it back for the flashbacks. Plus, our ghost was a year older when he was meant to be identical. And if you look at the lovely Bronte, who plays Isobel, she has grown considerably taller between seasons. But you deal with all of that and I think we got away with it all.
Did you always plan to do a second season, or did that come after finishing Season 1?
Always. We never answered the murderer question and I definitely wanted to do that. It was always important to revisit these stories and help them develop. Plus, it really helped that people loved the series and wanted more. It was hard to not write the second season earlier, but I really wanted to see how people responded to the series.
The cast all knew there would be a second season. Alec, who plays cop Brad, had told me he would be moving to the US the following year, so I knew I wanted to kill him in this season and that we would have to shoot that early.
Did you approach the writing differently this time around, with the hype around Troy’s killer and the other storylines? And how did you decide which new characters to add?
No, I wanted to keep the heart of Season 1. People responded well to that, so I wanted it to stay as pure as possible. I think when you start writing to please other people, that’s when you lose the integrity of the work. The new characters all had to be devices to expand the story of our core characters. Zara started a chain of events which led to Brad’s death, Brenda became great character development for Justine and Colin; Wesley became vital to Kobie’s story and Narelle helped Colin solve the mystery. And I was so happy what these actors brought to their characters.
Be honest, how much did you enjoy watching everyone try to guess who the killer was and pretty much all of us getting it wrong? While we’re on the subject, you’d planned who the killer was going to be from the beginning, correct?
I LOVED seeing everyone trying to guess it, and I would occasionally hear Justine’s name mentioned, but no one seriously gave it as their guess, whereas people were really passionate about guesses like Oscar or Leanne. And I really loved seeing you give your guesses on the blog and say how sorry you were for Justine. I knew people would be shocked, so it was nice to see they were. I would have hated to create a murder mystery where everyone guessed it, that would have been totally deflating.
And yes, I knew from the very start. I thought of the idea, and part of that initial thought was that the mother did it. I have always been a Twin Peaks fan, and I wanted to pay homage to the series, so it made sense that one of the parents had to do it.
How did you go about shooting the murder scene without giving the game away to anyone who couldn’t find out?
For season one, the cast were given the entire season script, for season two, actors were only given scenes they were in and I even went about writing false info on call sheets so actors wouldn’t know we were shooting murder scenes or scenes that gave away the answer. In season one, just Jacinta and I knew the truth, in season two more and more people were finding out. It was nerve wracking knowing that so many people knew, but the crew were sworn to secrecy. They were all great, I think they liked being in the know so were great at keeping quiet. There was only a couple of times I heard conversations going that I quickly changed the topic on. They had thought the other person knew, but didn’t. Most of the cast were in the dark and discovered when the audience did.
Without giving anything away, there’s still a number of storylines that could be wrapped up, and a new mystery was set up in the season finale, involving Colin’s late sister Kate McLeavey. What’s next for the world of After Nightfall, if any? Can we expect to see any returning characters?
To be honest, the chance of a third season is highly unlikely. This past season took a lot out of the team and because of the sheer enormity of the cast, it would be hard to get everyone back together. I will probably end up writing a blog post about what would have happened in the stories. But yes, the planned season 3 was to investigate what happened to Kate, Colin’s sister. She has been dead for 20 years and everyone thought she died in a tragic accident, but her return (because Colin’s ability to see ghosts has been unlocked by the death of Troy) has meant that she is able to let Colin know she was murdered. Because she has been tortured by loneliness for 20 years, she was going to be much harder to deal with than Troy. The focus again would have been the McLeavey’s and we would have seen where they came from and would have introduced Colin’s father, Jock, just out of prison.
Should season 3 happen, do you think Colin might get a break from all the hardship he’s been through, or are you going to make him suffer more? 😛
Colin would be even more tortured. The guilt of what happened to Troy and Justine, a son that wouldn’t speak to him and the knowledge his sister was murdered 20 years before and he did nothing. And now he can see Kate, she would not let him rest. Heroes in noir are flawed and tortured, Colin would have been both.
Is there anything you’d change about Season 1 or 2 now that they’re both complete?I guess I would have wrapped things up more, not left so many cliffhangers. But apart from that, I am happy. Is the series perfect? Of course not. But it is a piece of work created by some amazing actors and brilliant crew. That’s something to be proud of, and I am.
You’ve been making theatre for 19 years, but now you’re focusing on film. Apart from this web series, you’ve done a couple of music videos and your first feature film is in post production. When can we expect to see According to Otto, and what other projects are in the pipeline that you can share?
According to Otto is coming along nicely, really happy with what we have so far and it will be out sometime next year. I am concentrating on a bit of writing at the moment. I am working on two books at the moment, a novel, as well as a series of plays. Entering into the publishing world is exciting me. Plus more plans for another film, so as always, I won’t be resting for long.
Finally, what are you most proud of with After Nightfall?
Ha ha, I just mentioned I was proud before. Now to expand. People have loved the series, and not just friends. People I don’t know have messaged to say how much they love what we have produced, and that is incredible. To see us competing with other amazing series from around the world and to see us winning awards is so special. When you make something, you hope it will succeed, but when it exceeds your expectations is something wonderful and very humbling.
And now, what’s next? After Nightfall seems to be at an end. Don’t despair though. If Wayne’s going to keep producing art, I’m going to keep writing about it. If Season 3 happens, then there’ll be more of the McLeaveys. But it seems the next Tunks production I’ll be talking about is According to Otto. In the meantime, there’s plenty more coming on AbStar, so click the subscribe button so you don’t miss anything! Also, I regularly review the Sydney theatre scene on https://www.theatretravels.org/reviews as Abbie Gallagher, and that’s another organisation I love being part of.