Interview with ‘Scavengers Reign’ Team on Animated Series Joining Netflix & Season 2 Potential

All 12 episodes landed on Netflix at the end of May in a handful of countries.

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Scavengers Reign Interview Sean Buckelew Joe Bennet Netflix

Picture credits: TheRightNow, Calvin Frederick, Max

Scavengers Reign is being given a shot at redemption. The HBO Max Original dropped on Netflix in a handful of regions and could return for more seasons if it performs.

We sat down with co-creator Joe Bennett and executive producer Sean Buckelew to discuss the show joining Netflix, dive into some of the show’s design and lore, the future of the show with season 2 hopes at Netflix, whether the show will roll out to more regions, and why Netflix makes a perfect home for the series.

Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

WoN: I’m sure many will get to watch the show for the first time, and it certainly was the first time I ever got to experience it here in the UK. Can I ask about your reaction since the show rolled out? I noticed you got high praise from Guillermo del Toro himself.

Joe Bennet: Yeah, no, it’s been good. It felt well received but I’m loving it so far.

Sean Buckelew: Yeah, and I would say because it had this slightly odd rollout on Netflix, we’ve had so much support from fans that kind of discovered it earlier and have shown up to boost it. That was part of how it ended up on someone like Guillermo del Toro’s radar. He had already seen it, and when we made a video saying it was out on Netflix, he retweeted it. So that was cool.

WoN: It’s been a long journey to get to the point of joining Netflix – can you give me a timeline of how the show has evolved from a short on AdultSwim to the series to now?

JB: Yeah, it was someone from Adult Swim, I had done a couple things for Adult Swim in the past most of it was in the comedy realm, who had reached out to Matt Harrigan and said, do you wanna do just another short with us?

And I pitched him this idea that was not a comedy, and it was a more visual narrative, just something that I wanted to try out new and was excited about. I think it was because it was such a small potatoes project; he was like, “I don’t care.”

I had been working with Charles [Huettner – the co-creator of Scavengers Reign] on a project before that. And so I reached out to him, and so we started to develop the short and, you know, really leaning into, like, how much can you say just visually without having dialogue? And then eventually, when we turned it in. Mike Laza, who was running Adult Swim at the time, saw it and was like, this could be a show. Could we turn this into something?

And, you know, I think they’re, the only thing was they wanted to have dialogue and kind of more, wouldn’t say like traditional story arcs, but just kind of like, you can’t have a full show with no dialogue. And I think that was the idea. In hindsight, I’m glad because I think it would have just pigeonholed us quickly.

Scavengers Reign Coming To Netflix

Picture: Max

So, we made the pilot with Adult Swim. This was the time when Adult Swim and HBO Max had just merged, so there were just these kinds of constant lulls, and nothing was going on. Then, after some time, they said, I don’t think we’re going to turn this into a show, and we just sat there for a year or two.

Then Billy Wee and Aaron Davidson, who were working at HBO Max, reached out and wanted to turn it into a series. They gave us a shot, and it was really nice that they fully trusted what we were doing.

WoN: I binged it all in a single day, and I found it relentless and beautiful. By the end, I was exhausted in a good way. I mean, that planet throws a lot at you.  I hope it’s a compliment saying that I found it almost like an expanded series of a Love, Death, and Robots episode. I was wondering whether you’d be able to do a quick pitch for anyone who’s still sitting on the fence and hasn’t checked it out on Netflix yet. 

SB: I think I’d say it’s like an alien nature documentary, and unlike, I think, a lot of other like action survivalist stories, it’s in a place where there’s sort of no moral good and evil.  It’s just these people trying to make it through this kind of unfeelingly relentless and chaotic world, which I think is sometimes wondrous and beautiful and sometimes kind of murderous and horrifying.

And it’s got nice animation that we worked hard on. That’s my pitch.

WoN: I was looking through a ridiculously long piece on Vulture detailing the bestiary for your show. How much is inspired by documentaries, as you mentioned, and how much comes purely down to the team’s imagination? 

JB: I mean, it’s all made up, but we definitely were cherry-picking from a lot of stuff from nature documentaries and that sort of thing. It was a really fun process at the beginning when we were doing concept designs and building out the ecosystems, it was kind of like, “okay, this creature matches with this foliage and matches with this.” Then from there, figuring out like, well, what are the sort of symbiotic relationships between these things, and how do they work? What is the functionality that, and what is the purpose that they serve on the planet? But then, can that functionality be served for one of the characters that they could use? Like what kind of tool could they use this thing for?

SB: Yeah, and I felt when we were writing it,  you came into it with an objective, and then it’s like figuring out a sort of like using a plant or an animal like a tool. Then after that you build the entire circle of how this, if it has this application, like what function would that serve in nature? I would say different parts of those puzzle pieces would come in at different times where sometimes it would be like, here’s an animal that could function like this. How could a story get there and utilize it?

Joe, you had this drawing, I remember really early on that I think about a lot that was like sort of taking this concept of really small things. Like I think you had taken like a microscopic photo of like pencil shavings or something. It was just these super-duper, high-res pictures and was really a small thing that’s blown up really big. Then you did a drawing where it was like two little figures were in the middle. So it was like, oh, you’re walking through this, this valley of pencil shavings that are making these weird shapes. That’s derived from reality, but it’s like flipping the scale.

We talked about that a lot, like taking a little thing and making it really big or taking a big thing and making it really little and like recontextualizing, that can add a kind of fantastic element to an observable phenomenon on earth that is the kind of inspiration point.

Scavengers Reign Max Original Coming To Netflix

Picture: HBO Max

JB: There was so much to pull from nature on earth. It was almost impossible to come up with stuff that didn’t already exist in some form or fashion. We leaned into it in a big way. I would also say that a lot of it just came down to the feeling that there was just like, okay, that is the starting point of this. Inspiration is just like a certain feeling. I was talking about this earlier, but when I was a kid, there’s that scene in Lion King when Rafiki’s up in the tree, and he’s painting Simba on the tree. I remember that resonating

with me in such a big way that was beyond the storyline; it was the setting that was just such an impactful thing for me, hearing the kind of rain pattering and hearing, I mean, just like that kind of thing was huge.

It was nice because, parallel to the story, the writer’s room, and building up these character arcs, we also had our design team, and we had a lot of artists working on the essence of the plan and what it entailed and all of that stuff. It was very easy to blend those things when we needed to.

WoN: So it sounds like, to that end, the list of 54 creatures [listed in the Vulture Bestiary] could have easily been, you know, four or five times fold during the actual process of development.

SB: Yeah, we had this great artist named Caleb Wood, who is this amazing filmmaker animator. He was for a while just doing pages of creatures because he’s such a good animator; it was also like, here’s a sequence of like, “here’s a tree, and here’s what it’s like as a sapling, and here’s what it’s like later and here’s what it does. And I felt like we tried to do some bits of like, can we hang a whole episode on this tree? And then we’d like to go down a hall and go, no, not really. But the tree is sick.” I feel like we don’t like wasting anything, so it’ll show up somewhere.

Scavengers Reign Tree Design

Picture: Max

WoN: Moving on to the season 2 potential, I think numerous people on the team have spoken in interviews towards the end of last year that you had multiple seasons mapped out. Has that sort of changed scope since then?

JB: It hasn’t changed too much. We had a roadmap, but keeping it kind of like loose and fluid, I think it was always beneficial that we could sort of change things last second. Nothing has to feel like it’s kind of set in stone until picture lock until it’s the very end.

So we’ve got ideas. There’s only so much we can say about season two or whatever, but again, it really just depends on whether we get it or not. If enough people watch this thing, I hope they do.

SB: There are people who, since it’s come out, are sort of like, first of all, I think it frequently gets listed as a limited series, which is not true. We wrote it knowing shows get canceled in the streaming era. So we’re like, let’s do this in a way where if this is all we get to make, we won’t feel like we did a cheapo, like we’re punting the story down the road. A complete arc within the context of the season.

I will say, yeah, season two, if it could go, it would be the fucking coolest thing ever. Sorry. We’ve only seen 20 square miles of the planet. There’s so much to explore still.

But I think we’re like everyone else where it’s like; I would never want to do a season eight if it felt like we’d just run out of ideas.

Azi In Scavengers Reign

Picture: HBO Max

WoN: Has Netflix given you any indication of what success looks like, or is it just the case that you’ve just got to push it out and get it trending and such? What makes Netflix a good potential home?

SB: I think that it’s just whether or not it’s received well by their audience.

What’s great about Netflix is that it has so many adjacent shows. I mean, like you mentioned, Love, Death, and Robots. I think for us; it’s like Blue-Eyed Samurai and Arcane and all these shows that we think like, if you like that show, you can roll straight into Scavengers, and you’ll like it too.

We’re really happy to be in the company with those other shows, and I hope that the success of the adult animation audience that Netflix has built will respond positively. I can’t imagine it’s much more than that.

WoN: Beyond the hopeful season two, I noticed in the Reddit AMA you did last year that a lot of people were asking for art books and soundtracks. Do you have any updates on those at all?

SB: There is a soundtrack on Spotify, but we’d love to do something like a vinyl and kind of get some hard copies of these things out there.

The art book definitely is still a plan. What’s crazy about the show is that what the public has seen is just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, as far as the amount of art and stuff that we’ve created, it’s just immense. This book would be like a tome with all that stuff. We just were very picky about what actually, the canon of what made it through and everything. So yeah, there’s still a plan to roll out all that stuff.

WoN: I was also wondering whether you know whether the show is going to be rolling out to more regions. I think it’s just locked to four at the moment.

SB: I think so. I know there’s a plan for it to be more of a world release, but I don’t think we have any specific dates on when that will be. I would say our messaging right now is mainly just like this: the more people watch it now, the more likely it is that it’ll expand and season and everything else.

Are you hoping Scavengers Reign gets renewed at Netflix? Let us know in the comments.

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Founder of What's on Netflix, Kasey has been tracking the comings and goings of the Netflix library for over a decade. Covering everything from new movies, series and games from around the world, Kasey is in charge of covering breaking news, covering all the new additions now available on Netflix and what's coming next.