Netflix Picks Up Dennis Heaton's Monster Series 'The Order'
August 31, 2018
Netflix has an ongoing love affair with monsters -- especially the ones that dwell within us.
This subgenre has paid off for Netflix; which is why they quickly picked up the 10 episode monster drama series, THE ORDER.
The series, THE ORDER, comes from the mind of creative genius Dennis Heaton. His unique and compelling story follows college freshman Jack Morton as he joins a secret society, THE ORDER. But as Jack digs deeper, he uncovers a grave underground world, and is thrust into a world full of terrifying creatures, werewolves, and witchcraft.
They wrapped principal photography in July and are now in post. As far as a release date goes it’s still unclear to Dennis.
“I wait for someone else to tell me so I can panic,” says Dennis.
Getting a meeting with Netflix wasn’t all that hard for Dennis and Nomadic Pictures since they already had a preexisting relationship with them from another series, GHOST WARS.
“When we pitched the concept to them, we stuck the landing,” says Dennis.
Story is king in today’s market. There are tons of scripts circulating Hollywood, but only a few are high-concept with enough staying power to last. THE ORDER has that recipe. But according to Dennis, it’s more than just having a great idea when pitching your story to executives.
“Everyone they’re going to pitch to can tell if a writer is passionate about the story they want to tell or if they’re just trying to cater to the ‘genre du jour.’ Love your story, and reflect that in your development material,” he says.
Truer words have never been spoken. Everyone wants executives to be excited about their story. The only way of achieving this is by projecting that excitement onto them, which starts with the writer.
But genre does play an important role these days when getting your project green-lit. It’s imperative that there is a built-in audience, and Dennis will be the first one to tell you that.
“Audience is definitely a big factor, says Dennis.
“As a horror fan myself, I know that when I crawl through Netflix’s new releases, I’m starting with the horror content first (much to my wife’s chagrin). And I’m always looking for the new zombie stuff first -- especially the stuff like TRAIN TO BUSAN or CARGO that offer new takes on that world.”
Netflix is always ahead of the game. And they subscribe to the theory that people love to be scared, but only within a safe environment -- like their home. So it was a win-win situation for Dennis and Netflix, seeing Dennis primarily writes horror.
“THE ORDER comes out of a huge love of horror,” says Dennis.
“Ironically, I don’t think of my writing as very scary, but I am a fan of the elements of the genre, and whether I’m writing a cop series or a comedy series, those elements leech their way in.”
He’s also a huge fan of horror-comedies, such as AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, both of which were major influences and have shaped his style of writing over the years.
“Horror and comedy are two sides of the same coin for me. Both employ a similar structure of set-up and pay-off. The pay-off in horror being a lot bloodier than comedy,” says Dennis.
Netflix is a perfect home for someone like Dennis who loves to create. Netflix is well-known (and often praised) for allowing their creators to “create”, typically letting their show creators have as much creative freedom as they want and not getting in the way. This is why more creatives, like Dennis, are gravitating towards Netflix.
“Netflix has been extremely supportive of me as the creator of The Order, as have my producing partners Chad Oakes and Mike Frislev,” says Dennis.
He jokes that they may be luring him into a false sense of security so they can eventually hunt him down for sport on some remote island. Might even be the basis of his next story -- who knows!
Dennis is excited about the future of television. The gap between television and film is getting smaller by the minute; and, in some cases, overlapping.
“I hear more and more how features are utilizing writers rooms to generate the story, whether it’s for a single film or for a series,” says Dennis.
He also adds, “More venues means more writing rooms which translates into more opportunities for work -- and that’s always good for the writers.”
It’s an exciting time for writers. The way in which people watch content has revolutionized, especially to more of an advanced state. Viewers consume more content than ever, yet they have less time for themselves than ever before.
“Streaming services continue to make gains on the audience share, and as more and more people start watching content on their phones, we’re going to see a greater fluidity in the length of programming,” says Dennis.
It’s all becoming a singular ‘content’.”
There is an ongoing debate on whether a writer who wants to break into television or be staffed on an ongoing show should write an original pilot or an episode for a current show as a writing sample.
“I always recommend burgeoning writers write their original pilot script, says Dennis.
“It shows that they have the talent to create the material. Even if it doesn’t get traction, it’s a sample they can use to try and get staffing work.”
Dennis jokes that if your pilot does get picked up, “it’s one less damn script” you have to write before they go to production.
Dennis Heaton is the creator of THE ORDER. Normic Pictures is the production company. Shelley Erikse was the co-creator. The show stars Jack Manley ( iZombie), Sarah Grey (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) and Matt Frewer (Orphan Black).
Written by: Jacob StuartJacob N. Stuart is an award-winning and produced screenwriter. His films have been screened at over 50 different film festivals, in over 15 different countries. He is also the Founder of Screenwriting Staffing [www.screenwritingstaffing.com], an online screenwriting community that connects writers with industry pros. For more on Jacob: www.imdb.me/jacobnstuart