Behind The Scenes

Shadow and Bone | Into the Fold

Episode Summary

In our last episode, we focus on the final episodes 7 and 8 of Shadow and Bone, where we discover the birth of the Shadow Fold and enter it for a final battle between light and dark. We hear from the folks behind the creation of the Fold, and the monsters that live within it, from VFX, to sound, to the backstory of our resident sad boy that everyone is literally dying to know.

Episode Notes

In our last episode, we focus on the final episodes 7 and 8 of Shadow and Bone, where we discover the birth of the Shadow Fold and enter it for a final battle between light and dark. We hear from the folks behind the creation of the Fold, and the monsters that live within it, from VFX, to sound, to the backstory of our resident sad boy that everyone is literally dying to know.

Episode Transcription

Music Begins

Ben Barnes: Listen to this podcast at your peril because spoilers lie ahead. Make sure you've seen all the episodes of  Shadow and Bone and welcome to the Grishaverse. 

Music Ends

Leigh Bardugo: The idea for the Fold came from a night I spent alone in a dark house. 

Brandon Jenkins: We've all been there. We fall asleep in the daytime and when we wake up, the room is pitch black. In that moment, we panic. 

Music Begins

Leigh Bardugo: And I was sure that somebody was in the house with me because, of course, serial killers wait for you to  wake up before they kill you. 

Brandon Jenkins: For author Leigh Bardugo, that experience got her thinking. 

Leigh Bardugo: And when I finally calmed down and realized there was nobody there and my heart rate returned to  normal, and I had turned on every light in the house and looked in every closet and under every bed, I  started getting ready to go to sleep. I couldn't shake this idea that no matter how old you are or how  smart you are, you never lose your fear of the dark. So I begin to wonder, what if darkness was a place? 

Brandon Jenkins: And thus, the Shadow Fold was born. 

[CLIP] 

Baghra: He intends to expand the Fold and use it as a weapon. 

Speaker 1: The Fold? If I knew a safe passage through that, I'd be wealthier than the whole Merchant Council. 

Speaker 2: The Fold ate your parents. 

Alina: I get it, the whole country wants to see the Fold gone. 

Music Changes

Brandon Jenkins: Welcome to Behind the Scenes. This season, we've been going deep into the world, characters, and  locations of Shadow and Bone, the new Netflix fantasy adventure series, based on the novels by Leigh Bardugo. We've traveled all around the Grishaverse, through Ravka and the Little Palace to Ketterdam and the Crow Club, and now we're dedicating our last episode to the Shadow Fold. We'll talk to the writers about its origins and hear how the Fold was brought to the screen through sound design and  visual effects. 

Ted Rae: Is it a wall of clouds? Is it a wall of black gelatin? How black is black? 

Music Ends

Brandon Jenkins: And we'll dig into the underlying themes in that final battle between Alina, the Sun Summoner, and  General Kirigan, the Shadow Summoner. 

Eric Heisserer: He knows just the evils of men and he knows the ones he wants to be protect. 

Brandon Jenkins: I'm your host, Brandon Jenkins. Let's get into it. 

Music Ends

Brandon Jenkins: Where better to start this episode than with the origin of General Kirigan. He's known by many names in  the Grishaverse, Aleksander, the Black Heretic, and also the Darkling. 

Christina Strain: The story goes, young Darkling fights two young teenagers around a frozen lake and people trying to  drown each other. 

Brandon Jenkins: Writer Christina Strain had the job of writing episode seven, when we catch a glimpse of Kirigan's past and see what led him to create the Shadow Fold. But Christina knew that what was in Leigh's books, was  not ideal for a television shoot. 

Christina Strain: And if you know anything about production, kids are difficult and water is very difficult. So it was like, for production purposes, do we want to do this? Or do we want to utilize our very handsome actor, Ben Barnes, and tell a story with Ben Barnes? 

Ben Barnes: Actually, what they came up with in the end, I think was even more exciting to me because I got to portray him as a younger man with hope and a younger man trying to do things the right way. I wanted  people to understand his pain and the pain out of which the Fold was born and the anger that fueled its  creation and to show that it wasn't intentional. 

Music Begins

Brandon Jenkins: The story the writers came up with was this, centuries before the Darkling becomes General Kirigan, he's  just another Grisha trying to survive in Ravka, a place where Grisha are hunted and persecuted by the  King's Army. 

Christina Strain: We decided to make an adjustment to the backstory of the Darkling to make it a little more explicit to  the audience what lengths he'll go to save Grisha and make that crystal clear in that moment so that you  understand who this character is. 

Brandon Jenkins: There's an intense standoff between the Army and the Grisha. And when the King's men kill the healer  he's in love with, the Darkling fights back. 

Christina Strain: This was actually a pitch of Leigh's to make it a story about who General Kirigan was before the Fold and  how much he lost along the way. 

Brandon Jenkins: He unleashes his full power to try and gain control over the Ravkan Army. 

Music Ends

[CLIP]

Kirigan: I have no army to fight yours, so I shall remake yours as my own. Submit to me. 

Brandon Jenkins: But instead of creating an army, he creates the Shadow Fold. The script reads, "Close on Kirigan. He  and then he stops, straining. The spell is as Baghra warned, too much, too unstable. In a primal  scream of pain, he tilts his head up and shadows explode from his body." Because the Fold is made from General Kirigan, sound designer, Craig Henighan, embedded Kirigan into the Fold. 

Craig Henighan: I basically took Kirigan's voice

[CLIP of Kirigan’s yell]

Craig Henighan: and as he's yelling, I ran it through this program called Sound Particles,  which basically sort of rips apart the sound and particlizes it. So when you see the Fold created, you  have this cool sound that's actually rooted, again, in General Kirigan. 

[CLIP of Kirigan yell]

Music Begins

Brandon Jenkins: Visual effects supervisor, Ted Rae, brought that same attention to character when designing the look of  the Fold. But first, he had some existential questions. 

Ted Rae: What is it? Is it a wall of clouds? Is it a wall of black gelatin? How black is black? Brandon Jenkins:Ted has been in the industry for 40 years. You probably know him best for his Emmy award-winning  work for Game of Thrones. And when showrunner, Eric Heisserer, started to think about the Fold, he  knew he had to get Ted. 

Eric Heisserer: Our first ideas, we found, were either too much or not enough like something that would live in the real  world. 

Brandon Jenkins: And that's when Ted and Eric had a breakthrough. 

Music Ends

Ted Rae: Because Alina is the Sun Summoner, and Kirigan is the Darkling, what came to mind immediately was  okay, she's light, he's dark. She's the sun, what if he's the black sun? 

Eric Heisserer: And Ted thought about, what if it's black fire? What if this is like a photo negative of the sun? It is the  anti-Alina space. 

Ted Rae: What if it's like we're looking down at the biggest fireball anyone's ever seen, only there's just thousands  of them all together and that's all in a flat surface? 

Eric Heisserer: Can we get a texture that looks like it's roiling and alive and full of some sort of temperant fury and then make it perfectly still once you got inside? 

Brandon Jenkins: That stillness, when Alina first enters the Shadow Fold, was full of tension, thanks to sound mixer, Brad North. 

Brad North: So as we first get into the Fold, we actually hear her breaths. It's not super panicked, she's confused, she doesn't know what's going on, she's a little scared. Now, she looks around and we hear the Volcra fly by and then we hear other people whispering or panicking. Then things build up and build up and then all the chaos happens. But, for that one beat, you're there with her and that's what the track is doing there. 

Brandon Jenkins: And if Kirigan created the Shadow Fold out of desperation centuries ago, just what exactly is in there? 

Ted Rae: Okay, if inside the Fold is this massive environment that is filled with Kirigan's darkness. If you take that powdery darkness that he conjures up out of the shadows and turns into objects, if you take that and you spread it out over hundreds and hundreds of miles, it becomes this dark, foggy environment, except  instead of the fog being water, it's his black particulate. 

Music Begins

Craig Henighan: So you have your very, very basic earthquake type rumbles, avalanche type rumbles, and then any sort  of hurricane and tornado type winds is where I sort of started, ultimately as a jumping off. 

Brandon Jenkins: This is Craig Henighan, the master sound designer behind Kirigan's scream within the Fold. The guy who  records sugar and water and slaps beef around for fun. For the Shadow Fold, Craig might've started with very basic sounds like earthquake rumbles and tornado winds, but from there, he took a more  unorthodox route. 

Music Ends

Craig Henighan: Then you start looking for sounds that are a little bit more interesting and what I ended up finding early  on, was I have this really great old library of old circus and carnival type things. Just different recordings  of these old sixties and seventies carnivals and horror haunted house things. On their own, they're really  poorly, badly recorded, but there's a couple haunted house things that I was like, "Oh, that's kind of  cool. So what if I did a haunted house version of what the Volcra would be?" 

[CLIP]

Alina: The Volcra were men? 

Baghra: And women. Children. I warned him there'd be a price. 

Music Begins

Brandon Jenkins: When Kirigan created the Fold, it ripped across the land of Ravka and all the people who were living  there, they became the Volcra. Craig and Eric wanted to keep that human quality in their cries. 

Craig Henighan: The thing with the Volcra that I think came from Leigh or came from the book, and then Eric, and I talked about, was that the Volcra are basically trapped humans, right? Like they're  trapped people in there and they're sad, they're like sad creatures. If you listen closely, you can actually  hear the human esque type thing. You got the dry ice Volcra, you got an owl Volcra, I think, but then  there's a couple other ones there that are definitely myself. I'm just performing sort of moans and cries  and stuff and then I've processed it through ... I use a bunch of different types of plugins to process my  voice a certain different way. 

[CLIP of volcra breath]

Eric Heisserer: We wanted to have a very bestial screech that if you stripped away some of that feral quality, you would  hear a man or a woman screaming almost as if for help. 

Craig Henighan: And so we did a whole pass. A lot of the Volcra, especially later on in the episodes, have a little bit more  sadness to them and a little bit more moaniness to them and crying to them. I generally take a snippet  of a moan or a cry and I'll take, maybe the beginning of it, and then I attach it to a dry ice squeal or a  monster roar or something, or a lion roar or a tiger roar. That's really how things sort of evolve in the  language of what the Volcra are doing. 

Brandon Jenkins: If you look closely, you can also see how VFX supervisor, Ted Rae, retained a barely visible remnant of  those former humans. 

Music Changes

Ted Rae: And on the wings, we even kept a short thumb and pointer finger on it so that it would have, in addition to flying, it would have the ability to use that thumb and pointer finger like a hand. 

Brandon Jenkins: Most of the references for these flesh-eating monsters came from the natural world, and not just from  winged creatures. 

Ted Rae: I'm fascinated by great white sharks, I always have been. There's a line in the original movie Jaws, "This  is a perfect eating machine." So I wanted to get a little bit of that feeling in there that there is this big,  broad mouth, this huge open throat that has all these teeth in the front. So like I said, if it bit your head  off, it could swallow it all in one chunk. 

Music Ends

Leigh Bardugo: I have a deep abiding fear of sharks and I think that the Fold, now that I think about it, is sort of like a  dark ocean full of flying sharks. And I think that Ted and the team took a very different but much  fresher place. I think that they took the description in the book and they just leveled it up to something  even more horrifying. 

Brandon Jenkins: So first time seeing it on screen, were you terrified? 

Leigh Bardugo: I mean, honestly, Brandon, no. I know what's coming, so I don't ... But I will say that there's a moment  when this Volcra rises up behind one of the characters and you just see it in silhouette. I had a very  horror movie moment of being like, "Oh my God, look behind you." 

[CLIP of volcra sounds]

Brandon Jenkins: By the time Alina comes along, the origin of the Shadow Fold is just a myth. Only Baghra and Kirigan  know the truth, but for him, it represents freedom for his people. 

[CLIP]

Kirigan: Everything that I have done, everything that I have ever done, has been to make Ravka safer, to make  Grisha safer. 

Brandon Jenkins: Over the centuries, the Grisha become valuable since they are the best way to guarantee safe passage  through the Shadow Fold. Squallers, who control wind, move skiffs across the Fold. Heartrenders feel  for Volcra and can predict an attack. Inferni kill Volcra with flames, and Kirigan is not about to destroy  what he thinks keeps his people safe. 

Music Begins

Ben Barnes: I think he's probably tried every which way possible to protect his people and to bring about peace and  to not have his people be hunted. I think it's an interesting area to investigate because even in our world  today, I think when some people try to protect their people, if they're being persecuted, it's an  incredibly noble thing. But if you're trying to protect your people when they're not being persecuted, it's  something that is unforgivable and impossible for the rest of us to understand. 

Brandon Jenkins: But what Alina sees, is that the Grisha are no longer in danger. They live in an elegant palace, they  always have food, clothing, warm fires, and hot baths. They have what the rest of Ravka wants, safety. 

[CLIP]

Alina: You have me, you have this, destroy the Fold. You said we could. 

Kirigan: And why would we destroy the Fold? It's the greatest weapon that we've got. 

Brandon Jenkins: In that moment, Alina's face registers a mixture of confusion and despair. Growing up an orphan whose  parents died in the Fold, the destruction of the Shadow Fold means liberation for her country. For all  Ravkans. 

Eric Heisserer: Alina's thoughts on and feelings on Ravka and on found family, and on Grisha, and on her future are  quite different from Kirigan and his. They're all shaped by their past, but Alina's continues to be one  built on optimism and hope. 

[CLIP]

Jessie Mei Li: I've always felt like an outsider. Especially when I first got here. But now I finally feel like I belong. And  not that I just belong here, but to something greater, that we can offer Grisha and Ravkans. Hope for the future. 

Eric Heisserer: Kirigan is like, I would say, maybe a comparison would be Magneto from X-Men. He knows the evils of  men, and he knows the ones he wants to protect, and that circle of people is not as big as hers. 

Brandon Jenkins: Kirigan's circle is made solely of Grisha and like Magneto with the X-Men, Kirigan is willing to kill anyone who threatens his people. Because of Alina's past, her circle is wider. It includes the non-Grisha  and the Grisha. 

Eric Heisserer: That's something that I read about empathy, there was a fascinating white paper on empathy in people,  and that when you talk about the word family or community, some see that as a very small circle of  people that they care about, and then everyone else is a potential enemy. There are others who have a  larger circle, that feel like they don't have to know you to want to protect you and make sure you're  healthy and safe and they don't see you as an enemy. 

Brandon Jenkins: These fundamentally different worldviews are what set up the final showdown. The entire season of  Shadow and Bone has been leading up to an epic battle with all our characters in the Fold. 

Amita Suman: That was one of my favorite days. I felt absolutely exhilarated. I love stunt work 

Kit Young: Yeah, you were buzzing. 

Amita Suman: I was literally buzzing. I was buzzing so hard. It was the best day. 

Music Ends

Brandon Jenkins: For the actors, it was extra meaningful since they'd been bonding throughout the whole shooting  process. 

Jessie Mei Li: We all just really liked each other immediately and within the first week, we were going out for dinner  every night and just all hanging out all the time. 

Ben Barnes: Jessie and I had a lot of time to talk because we were doing horse-riding lessons together and stunt  sequences together and obviously rehearsing our scenes with each other all the time. So we had a lot of  time, especially in these long bus journeys to where we would do the horse training, sort of an hour and  a bit each way. 

Archie Renaux: Jessie would be eating potatoes, you can put a lot of money on that. Honestly, I've never seen someone  eat so many potatoes. 

Brandon Jenkins: And let's be honest, part of the joy of this final episode for viewers is also that our main characters are  together. 

[CLIP]

Mal: The bold move is to strike now. 

Kaz: And the smart one is to get clear of the damned Fold first. 

Mal: I never said I was smart. 

Jesper: Can you believe him? 

Inej: I'm going with him. 

Music Begins

Brandon Jenkins: We see the Crows and Alina's storyline finally intersect on a massive ship, called a Sandskiff. Built on a  soundstage in Budapest, it was almost 80 feet long, had multiple levels, and was on a hydraulic system that allowed it to sway and move like it was actually crossing the Fold. Kit Young, who plays Jesper, was in his element. 

Kit Young: You know, there was something that kind of felt a bit swashbuckling about Jesper anyway, but it was  like, "I'm on a pirate ship. Oh yeah, I like this." And felt like I was on the set of Hook. 

[CLIP]

Kaz: We wait. 

Jesper: The action's up there. 

Kaz: They have the advantage. 

Jesper: Only because I'm not in the game.

Brandon Jenkins: For Amita Suman, who plays Inej, this sequence was a chance to do her own stunt work on a deck 25 feet up in the air. It's so strange because you learn a routine, in rehearsals, but then you get on set and suddenly you're on this tiny deck that's, I don't know, four foot by six or something like that. And all you have is this tiny bar that's holding everyone there. So then it was just constant readjusting and just figuring it out more so on the day and using the rehearsals as more of a foundation for fighting. 

Brandon Jenkins: But the final showdown happens between Mal and Kirigan. 

Archie Renaux: Ben is like my mentor, man. 

Brandon Jenkins: Actor Archie Renaux, who plays Mal, knew Ben Barnes from when they'd worked together on a previous  TV show. 

Archie Renaux: It was quite crazy that, fast forward a year from doing the show that I met him on, we'd be working  together again and going up against each other. It's funny how that kind of happens. 

Brandon Jenkins: Yeah, the six degrees of theater, you know? 

Archie Renaux: Yeah. 

Ben Barnes: When I got offered this job and I heard that he was auditioning for that character, I literally said, "This  guy is amazing. If you want someone who is going to set him on fire, then this is your guy." 

Brandon Jenkins: So when it came down to fisticuffs in the Fold, they both went full force. 

Ben Barnes: Just like being in the stunt room and rehearsing that night after night, before or after work with Archie,  and both of us being the kind of guy who's like, "No, I don't want a stunt double. I want to do it. I want  to do it. I can do it. Let me do it. Put me in. Put me in coach." 

Archie Renaux: On the day, I mean, I was, I think ... Yeah, you would've seen, I'm very bloodied up. Mal's kind of got his ass served to him a bit. I think maybe this one bit made the cut, where I kind of fall over and then do a sort of back roll. And that wasn't like planned, that was because Ben had probably hit me so hard I fell  over and I did a back roll.

Ben Barnes: The wonderful thing about that fight is they make it seem like a vaguely equal fight, but Mal actually never ever lands a punch on the Dark. And I think that that was a really interesting choice by the stunt  team to kind of organize that fight so that, essentially, I'm just wailing on him. But the fight still seems  equal because Mal is a canny street fighter. 

Music Ends

[CLIP]

Mal: I don't have to kill you Darkling. Your past will do it for me. 

Music Begins

Brandon Jenkins: As for Alina's storyline, she seems to resolve her arc at the moment when the amplifier stag horns are  absorbed into her collarbones. It's Alina fully embodying her own power and regaining her agency. 

[CLIP]

Alina: You cannot claim what was not given to you. The stag chose me. 

Brandon Jenkins: And in her own way, Jessie Mei Li absorbed a little bit of Alina as well. 

Jessie Mei Li: There were a few times towards the end where I would have dreams that I was Alina. Honestly, it was really  worrisome. I would wake up and be like, "Where am I?" And I'd be in the middle of the ... Be 3:00 AM  pickup and I've woken up and I'm thinking about the stag. I think because I felt I really understood Alina.  I felt like she was my little sister in lots of ways. 

Music Ends

Brandon Jenkins: And as for the Crows, what did they learn over the course of this season? I'll let Jesper sum it up. 

[CLIP]

Jesper: People with trains are evil. You can't kidnap a human sunbeam. And maybe, just maybe, greed is a poor  motivator. True wealth is the friends you make along the way. 

Inej: I just might be impressed. 

Jesper: I'm talking of Milo, of course. 

Brandon Jenkins: The Shadow and Bone production wrapped shooting in Hungary in February 2020, a few weeks before  the World Health Organization labeled the novel coronavirus a global pandemic.

Music Begins

Brandon Jenkins: The cast and crew  dispersed and post-production happened during lockdown from dozens of locations, all around the  world. But even with the distance, the team was able to come together and bring Shadow and Bone to  life. As for Leigh Bardugo, it's always been about the fans.

Leigh Bardugo: I often get asked, "What do you want people to take away from this?" And I'm like, "I just want them to  have a place to be for a little while. A place to hide, if they need to hide, or escape or a place to feel  brave or to get swept up in the romance or the adventure. That's enough." 

Music Changes

Brandon Jenkins: Behind the Scenes Shadow and Bone was produced by Netflix and Pineapple Street Studios. Our executive producers are Max Linsky, Jenna Weiss-Berman, and Bari Finkel. This production was led by producers, Christine Driscoll and Melissa Slaughter. Our associate producers are Maria Robins Somerville and Briana Garrett. Our managing producer is John Asante, editing by Darby Maloney, Hannis  Brown is our engineer, and special thanks to Lilly Slaydon. I'm your host Brandon Jenkins. Make  sure you rate, review, and subscribe for the next season, where we'll be diving into another fantastic  Netflix series. Until next time.

ENDS [25:39]