Jeffrey Baker tells One Chicago Center what went into making Hunted, and how the Dick Wolf podcast compares to his previous writing for Law & Order: SVU.
With Hunted having released all eight episodes, the Dick Wolf podcast is out there for One Chicago and Law & Order fans to listen to in its entirety—but what exactly does it take to bring a Dick Wolf drama to the podcast world?
One Chicago Center connected with Hunted writer Jeffrey Baker, who gave us insight into the making of the podcast. He also explained how working on this project contrasted with his previous experience writing for Law & Order: SVU.
Learn more in our interview with Jeffrey Baker below, then catch every episode of Hunted now by visiting the official website or your favorite podcast platform.
One Chicago Center: What interested you in writing a scripted podcast? Did you have previous experience in the audio medium?
Jeffrey Baker: Actually, my background is in theater, so I’ve written a bunch of plays—and in a way a podcast or an audio drama is sort of a hybrid between theater and TV. There’s a lot in common with theater.
I’ve always been interested in it as a medium but actually hadn’t thought about it until the Wolf [Entertainment] team came to me with their plan to start doing these, so that’s where that came from. I’m happy that it’s sort of coming back into popularity.
OCC: From a writer’s perspective, how do you get the most out of the format? Are there things you had to consider with Hunted because it was an audio project?
JB: There’s a lot to consider. We really worked hard to make sure that these stories worked in a an audio format, because there are a lot of characters to keep track of and we do go through a lot of story. But I think one really important thing is just because people don’t have that visual component, you really have to make sure the audience is following the story every step of the way, and is oriented correctly as far as what’s going on and who’s in this scene. They can’t see it so you have to really make sure the context is clear.
OCC: You previously worked in the Dick Wolf universe as a writer for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. How did Hunted compare to writing an episode of Law & Order: SVU?
JB: For one thing, we were building this from the ground up. When I was on SVU, it had been on for many seasons and I was working with a writing staff, and so the writing process was much more collaborative.
On Hunted, I worked really closely with Elliot on the scripts, who has such great instincts for story and was invaluable to the process. And [producing partners] Endeavor Audio and Neon Hum were great as well. But besides that, there was no writers’ room, so that was different. This was my first time writing an audio drama and Wolf’s first time, so we were learning as we went.
But in a lot of ways the process was quite similar to TV, in that once you get past the difference in mediums, it just comes down to storytelling. Really you’re just trying to create strong characters and interesting stories and building a world people want to experience.
So I think there’s a lot more in common with it than you might think, but we did have to do a lot of thinking up top about how to build this story, so that it really would work as audio.
OCC: Were there any differences in the actual production of Hunted?
JB: The biggest way in which this is different is you’re cutting out a huge chunk of production. There’s no makeup, costumes, there’s very minimal stuff. The actors had props and stuff, but nothing that had to be on camera. They’re just kind of free to focus on their lines, and you can record in a much more nimble way, because you’re not setting up cameras and lighting and all that. For actors, recording a podcast is closer to a staged reading of a play, which is freeing for them.
OCC: The Dick Wolf brand comes with certain audience expectations. Was there a conversation about a certain tone or approach that you wanted to take with Hunted to keep it on brand?
JB: We talked a lot about tone at the beginning. Having worked with Wolf Entertainment before, I knew the sandbox they play in and I’m a huge fan of that world and telling those stories. We definitely see Hunted as part of the Wolf ecosystem in terms of storytelling—but a new part, as the way they tell stories evolves. It was really a pretty intuitive, collaborative process and things developed as we went.
OCC: What is it about Dick Wolf projects that you think people respond to so well?
JB: I think in the end it comes down to character—just creating strong, interesting, realistic, dynamic characters that people want to spend time with. When I look at their shows across the board the one thing they have in common is really strong dynamic characters and I think that’s where good tv starts. They also make a point to tell stories that are topical and culturally relevant, and I think that really resonates with audiences.
OCC: With Hunted, is there anything you’re particularly proud of?
JB: I really love the last two episodes. We just finished cutting them and worked really hard on them, and I loved the way they turned out. So hopefully people will tune into the whole thing and enjoy the way it ends.
I would just say I’m super excited that this kind of storytelling’s come back and audiences are into audio fiction. The last time people listened to these was a long time ago and it’s awesome to me that I have a chance to tell this kind of story now. It’s really exciting.
For the latest Hunted spoilers and news, plus more on all of Dick Wolf’s other series, follow the Dick Wolf category at One Chicago Center.