Tim Kring has been a writer and producer on television programs for more than 20 years, with shows such as “Chicago Hope,” “Heroes” and “Touch.”
None of the projects have been as logistically complicated as his new cable series, “Dig.” The “Da Vinci Code”-like thriller about a conspiracy 2,000 years in the making was shot in New Mexico, Croatia and Jerusalem. It stars Anne Heche and Jason Isaacs.
“The shows that I’ve produced have all shot in Los Angeles,” Kring says. “I lived and worked within eight miles of them. They were not highly location-based shows. … This one really had a lot of logistical issues. That said, on the surface it sounded monumental. But, once we landed where we landed, we found highly skilled crews and perfect locations.”
Kring loved seeing the world through a number of locations that never have been seen before on television.
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The exotic locations were needed to tell the story of an FBI agent (Isaacs) recently stationed in Jerusalem who starts investigating the murder of a young American. He soon discovers an ancient international conspiracy that could change the course of human history.
The troubles in the Middle East created problems with filming on location. The first episode had been shot before unrest in Israel created concerns. Alternative locations had to be found to match what already had been shot.
For Kring, the most important part of bringing “Dig” to the screen is the story. No amount of locations or actors can help when the plot is weak.
And finding a winning story often depends on timing. Kring points to “Heroes” as an example. That genre of super humans had not been that popular on TV for some time. “Heroes” not only rekindled the genre, but it sparked imitators.
“The trick is take an idea that’s not mainstream and catching it at the right time when it actually wants to be mainstream,” Kring says. “And then doing it in a mainstream, friendly way.”
Unlike most TV series, “Dig” won’t launch as a limitless commodity. “Dig” will air in 10 parts that will come to a closed ending. Just enough story will be left open for a second season.
Kring is certain viewers like the idea of knowing there is a set end to a story.
“When J.K. Rowling told the world that she was going to go write seven Harry Potters, it made those books very precious to people, because if you were on book number five, you only had two more to go, and there was something very compelling about that,” Kring says. “I think television has finally seen this as a viable model as well.”
Anne Heche plays the head of the Jerusalem FBI office. She feels honored to be part of the project.
“I always like to surprise people with what direction I’m moving and going in. So to be able to do something that has this much compelling story and is so you know, it’s deep. ‘Save Me’ wasn’t necessarily that deep, and I like going into these waters and being able to really explore a fantastic dramatic character again. And I haven’t done that in a couple of years, so I’m really thrilled to be doing it,” Heche says.
She and Isaacs both found shooting on location a benefit to playing their roles. Isaacs could almost feel the combined history of all of those who had walked the streets before him.
“It’s not just that it’s gorgeous,” Isaacs says. “It’s that every civilization that there’s been — for thousands of years, every empire — has always wanted this tiny, tiny piece of land, this square mile.”