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The creators of The Crossing were inspired by a current global crisis to create a unique and powerful series, which comes first and only to Showmax.
In August 2015, a Syrian father clutched his son as he stepped off a tiny rubber boat onto the shores of a Greek island.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of that moment (one of thousands of similar photos of suffering and desperation) became a symbol for the struggle of more than 5.6 million refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war – and the world’s inability to cope with the scale of the refugee crisis that the war had created.
For screenwriter and TV producer Dan Dworkin (MTV’s Scream), the photo hit him hard: “Just the look on the guy’s face, as a father, killed me. And that was the spark, initially. That’s when I emailed Jay (The Crossing co-creator and producer Jay Beattie) and said ‘refugees,’” Dan reveals.
Lost in time
When local sheriff Jude Ellis (Steve Zahn), his sheriff’s deputy Nestor Rosario (Rick Gomez) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agent Emma Ren (Sandrine Holt) question some of the 47 “refugees” who have mysteriously washed up on their small fishing town’s beach with their dead and dying, they too claim to be fleeing war – one fought in the United States 180 years in the future.
They might be from the same country on the surface, but not only are the refugees culturally and ideologically different from their baffled new hosts, some, like Reece (Natalie Martinez), have been genetically engineered to have superpowers that could pose a threat to the local population.
Sign of the times
Through the refugees’ eyes, we’re told a cautionary tale of genetic tampering, widening class divides and a genocide to come. It’s a horror story for modern times, projected onto an uncertain future.
And that has always been a feature of the most striking science fiction and horror stories. The 1954 Japanese film Godzilla, about a city-annihilating monster produced by radiation, was as much a product of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as were the “Atomic Age” science fiction comics coming out of the United States during the early 1960s. These focused on men and women like The Fantastic Four (debuting in 1961) who were given amazing but difficult-to-control powers by nuclear radiation. They’re two vastly different tales created by experiences with nuclear power from opposing sides.
Fear the future?
Aside from examining the way that the refugee crisis has seized our imaginations and been abused as a fear-mongering political tool recently, The Crossing is also about a more primal fear: that of losing a child.
Jay says “[Dan and I] are both dads, so a lot is informed by being a parent and the notion of being separated from your child, the notion of having your child taken from you; the notion of not knowing what happened to your child.”
The awesome power of research
But the future isn’t all about fear. “There’s a lot with the human drama but there’s also a lot on the sci-fi end. We were very excited to kind of explore facets of genetic engineering. It plays a significant part of the show, in terms of where Apex (a species of genetically advanced humans) comes from and the science of that. We get to that in the show. That was really fun!” says Dan.
“We had a consultant on staff, a synthetic biologist who helped us with our science. We were very excited to think about what the future might look like in 100 to 150 years. That’s the best research, the most fun we’ve ever had talking to researchers. We were talking to futurists about what they think the future might hold. That was awesome!”
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