True Blood is an American television drama series created and produced by Alan Ball. It is based on the The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris. The show is broadcast on the premium cable network HBO in the United States. It is produced by HBO in association with Ball's production company, Your Face Goes Here Entertainment. It premiered on September 7, 2008.
The show's second 12-episode season premiered on June 14, 2009. On July 30, 2009, HBO confirmed that True Blood will be renewed for a third season.The third season is due to begin shooting on December 3, 2009.
True Blood details the co-existence of vampires and humans in Bon Temps, a fictional small Louisiana town. The series centers on Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), a telepathic waitress at a bar, who falls in love with vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer).
The first season received critical acclaim and won several awards, including one Golden Globe and an Emmy.
Series creator Alan Ball had previously worked with premium cable channel HBO on Six Feet Under, which ran five seasons. In October 2005, after Six Feet Under's finale, Ball signed a two-year agreement with HBO to develop and produce original programming for the network. True Blood became the first project under the deal, after Ball became acquainted with Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mystery books. One day, while early for a dental appointment, Ball was browsing through Barnes and Noble and came across Dead Until Dark, the first installment in Harris's series. Enjoying it, he read the following entries and became interested in "bringing [Harris's] vision to television". However, Harris already had two other adaptation options for the books. He said she chose to work with him, though, because "[Ball] really ‘got’ me. That’s how he convinced me to go with him. I just felt that he understood what I was doing with the books.”
The project's hour-long pilot was ordered concurrently with the finalization of the aforementioned development deal and was written, directed and produced by Ball.Cast members Paquin, Kwanten and Trammell were announced in February 2007 and Moyer later on in April. The pilot was shot in the early summer of 2007 and was officially ordered to series in August, at which point Ball had already written several more episodes. Production on the series began later that fall, with Brook Kerr, who portrayed Tara Thornton in the original pilot, being replaced by Rutina Wesley. Two more episodes of the series had been filmed before the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike shut down production of the 12-episode first season until 2008. That September, after only the first two episodes of the series had aired, HBO placed an order for a second season of twelve episodes of the show, with production scheduled to commence in January 2009 for a summer premiere.
Opening title sequence
True Blood's Emmy-nominated title sequence was created by Digital Kitchen, a production studio that was also responsible for creating the title sequence of Six Feet Under. The sequence, which is primarily composed of portrayals of the show's deep South setting, is played to "Bad Things" by Jace Everett.
Conceptually, Digital Kitchen elected to construct the sequence around the idea of "the whore in the house of prayer" by intermingling contradictory images of sex, violence and religion and displaying them from the point of view of "a supernatural, predatory creature observing human beings from the shadows ..." Digital Kitchen also wished to explore ideas of redemption and forgiveness, and thus arranged for the sequence to progress from morning to night and to culminate in a baptism.
Most of the footage used in the sequence was filmed on location by Digital Kitchen. Crew members took a four-day trip to Louisiana to film and also shot at a Chicago church and on a stage and in a bar in Seattle. Additionally, several Digital Kitchen crew members made cameo appearances in the sequence.
In editing the opening, Digital Kitchen wanted to express how "religious fanaticism" and "sexual energy" could corrupt humans and make them animalistic. Accordingly, several frames of some shots were cut to give movements a jittery feel, while other shots were simply played back very slowly. Individual frames were also splattered with drops of blood. The sequence's transitions were constructed differently, though; they were made with a Polaroid transfer technique. The last frame of one shot and the first frame of another were taken as a single Polaroid photo, which was then divided between emulsion and backing. The emulsion was then filmed being further separated by chemicals and those shots of this separation were placed back into the final edit.
Eight different typefaces, inspired by Southern road signage, were also created manually by Camm Rowland for cast and crew credits, as well as the show's title card
Gary Calamar, the music supervisor for the series, said that his goal for the soundtrack to the show is to create something "swampy, bluesy and spooky" and to feature local Louisiana musicians. Composer Nathan Barr writes the original score for the series which features cello, guitar, prepared piano and glass harmonica among other instruments, all of which he performs himself. The main theme song is "Bad Things" by country music artist Jace Everett, from his 2005 self-titled debut.
Elektra/Atlantic Records released a True Blood soundtrack on May 19, 2009, the same day as the release of the DVD and Blu-Ray of the first season. Nathan Barr's original score for True Blood was released on CD on the Varèse Sarabande label on September 8, 2009.
Both Nathan Barr and Jace Everett won 2009 awards from Broadcast Music Incorporated in the BMI Cable Awards category for, respectively, True Blood's original score and theme song.
The premiere of True Blood was prefaced with a viral marketing/alternate reality game (ARG) campaign, based at BloodCopy.com. This included setting up multiple websites, encoding web address into unmarked envelopes mailed to high profile blog writers and others, and even performances by a "vampire" who attempted to reach out to others of their kind, to discuss the recent creation of "TruBlood", a fictional beverage which is featured in the show. A MySpace account with the username "Blood" had, as of June 19, uploaded two videos;one entitled "Vampire Taste Test - True Blood vs Human", and one called "BloodCopy Exclusive INTERVIEW WITH SAMSON THE VAMPIRE". A prequel comic was handed out to attendees of the 2008 Comic-Con. The comic centers around an old vampire named Lamar, who tells the reader about how TruBlood surfaced and was discussed between many vampires before going public. At one point, Lamar wonders if TruBlood is making the world safe for vampires or from them.
Several commercials featured on HBO and Facebook aired prior to the series premiere, placing vampires in ads similar to those of beer and wine. Some beverage vending machines across the US were also fitted with cards indicating that they were "sold out" of TruBlood.
Thousands of DVDs of the first episode were handed out to attendees of Midnight Madness, a special screenings event of the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. Blockbuster Video provided free rental of the first episode of True Blood several days before it was broadcast on HBO. The video had a faint promotional watermark throughout the episode.
On April 16, 2009, HBO released the first teaser poster for Season 2. The image uses a perspective technique that shows observers one of two images. A minute-long promotional video advertising season two, which featured Bob Dylan's "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'", was released via Entertainment Tonight in early May.
On September 10, 2009, HBO.com began selling Tru:Blood, the fictional drink that appears in the show. In real life, it is a blood orange carbonated drink, developed and manufactured by Omni Consumer Products, a company that specializes in defictionalizing brands from television and movies.
There is also a website for The Fellowship of the Sun, antagonists from the book series, featuring videos about hot-button issues such as becoming a vampire.
FX, available in the UK, launched an extensive promotional website for the series.
On September 15, 2009, HBO filed a trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a possible future electronic game based on True Blood.
On September 18, 2009, HBO launched a True Blood jewelry line in collaboration with New York-based designer Udi Behr. Inspired by the series, the jewelry has a Gothic look and features sterling silver, polished steel, and rubies.
Cast and characters
True Blood employs a broad ensemble cast composed of regular, central characters and a rotating group of impermanent supporting characters. Though the series is based in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, a noticeable number of the actors comprising the cast are originally from outside the United States. In an interview, Ball explained that he didn't intentionally seek out "non-American" actors, but was willing to go anywhere he needed to in order "to find the actor who makes the character breathe." Ball went on to explain that, in casting, there was more of a focus on who would portray the character in a compelling way rather than who would physically resemble the characters from the book. Noting that there's a definite difference between the characters portrayed in True Blood and the ones depicted in The Southern Vampire Mysteries, he described Harris as being very understanding in terms of how her work was being reinterpreted.