We have heard of love at first sight. But with David Weil’s ‘Hunters’, it was love at first draft for ‘Get Out’ director Jordan Peele. There was no looking back after that.
Created by debutant director David Weil, the American drama series ‘Hunters’ is an epic conspiracy thriller based on a rag-tag group of Nazi hunters in 1970s New York City, with the legendary Al Pacino as their leader. ‘Hunters’ premiered on 21 February 2020, on Amazon Prime Video, and six months later, in August 2020, the series was renewed for season 2.
- ‘Hunters’: David Weil’s letter to his late grandmother
- ‘Hunters’: Love at first read for Jordan Peele
- ‘Hunters’ review: A success story after bouts of rejection
‘Hunters’: David Weil’s love letter to his late grandmother
For ‘Hunters’, David Weil drew inspiration from the bedtime stories told by his grandmother Sarah on her World War II experiences. Sarah was an Auschwitz Camp Birkenau survivor and her stories’ courage, hope, and survival left a long-lasting impression on Weil. Another reason that inspired Weil to make ‘Hunters’ was the sheer lack of Jewish superheroes in films, television, and comics.
In an interview with “Digital Spy“, Weil said,
“I think as a young Jewish kid growing up on Long Island in New York, there are feelings of wanting to be powerful. You rarely see Jews depicted as superheroes; as having might and strength. They’re often nebbishes or Woody Allen or very intellectual. But to have the power to reclaim your place and get justice for your ancestors is definitely a wish fulfilment. And that’s what ‘Hunters’ became”.
Weil was clear with his motive. Not just Jewish representation, he wanted the redemption of Jews in the hands of Jewish heroes. Speaking with “Business Insider”, Weil said,
“Even ‘Inglorious Bastards’ and ‘Schindler’s List’ are stories about non-Jewish protagonists saving Jewish characters. I wanted to tell a story about Jewish characters getting justice and vengeance for other Jewish characters”.
‘Hunters’: Love at first read for Jordan Peele
‘Hunters’ was ready on paper six years ago. Weil has been a fan of Jordan Peele since his ‘Key and Peele’ days. As they share the same agent, Weil not only got a chance to read the script of ‘Get Out’, but also managed to send his ‘Hunters’ script to Peele. The two instantly hit it off with a mutual admiration for each other’s work and love for films.
David Weil told “Business Insider” how Peele jumped on board after reading the script. Weil said,
“Jordan’s a champion for underrepresented stories. He’s pushed me to be bold and brave and just have confidence. He told me that people fearing the show was a good thing, so I leaned into that fear and that boldness”.
As for Jordan Peele, it was love at first read with ‘Hunters’. Speaking with “WhereIsTheBuzz TV”, Peele revealed,
“As I started reading the pages, I fell in love with it. This is a show that I wanted to watch. More than anything, I wanted to skip the process of making it and just watch it”.
Not just the story, Peele was deeply impressed with Weil’s passion and hard work towards his creation. Peele added,
“David Weil, the creator, writer, and EP, [and] his pitch and script were so brilliant. His passion for the world he has created is not what I have seen before. I haven’t seen someone put this much work into a show even before it’s bought. It was a no-brainer once we got the pages”.
‘Hunters’ struck Jordan Peele in a haunting yet special way. The double entendre nature of ‘Hunters’ is what strongly appealed to him. Praising Weil and his story at the ‘Hunters’ premiere presentation, Peele said,
“He created a story, a saga that is not only well researched and well prepared but also the emotions he invested in it is clear. I saw myself in him because I knew he had a story that was about representation, about personal social catharsis. It was something that I had to see. I knew it was special”.
‘Hunters’ review: A success story after bouts of rejection
The pen to screen journey of ‘Hunters’ has been a long and tiring one for Weil and, thereafter, for Peele, who joined in as an executive producer. Peele’s ‘Get Out’ was a massive success, but despite his attachment to the project, not a lot of investors were showing interest.
David Weil was a newcomer and his not-to-so mainstream concept on violent Nazi slaughtering made most traditional buyers wary of the series, although he had a detailed 80-page bible to present and enough storylines to last at least five seasons.
Sometime in 2016, ‘Hunters’ was sold to a network, but when the head of the network was replaced, the new person in the office didn’t really understand or appreciate the show. The wheels of fortune turned in 2018 when Jennifer Salke joined Amazon Studios as the new head. Salke, being a visionary risk-taker, immediately made an offer. The rest, as we all know, is history. Will ‘Hunters’ Season 2 yet again hit the ball right out of the park? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!