Arts and Entertainment

Setting of television show inspired by Seattle, Mercer Island

When writer Veena Sud visited Seattle to do research for the new AMC television series “The Killing,” it didn’t take her long to settle on Mercer Island as the inspiration for a key location.

The series, about the investigation into the murder of a teenage girl, puts the home of a potential murder suspect on an island inspired by Sud’s visit to Mercer Island. “The Killing” is filmed in and around Vancouver, British Columbia, and the suspect’s house is the same home used as Daniel and Amanda Graystone’s mansion on the Syfy series “Caprica.”

“I fell in love with Mercer Island, with the floating bridge, all those parts of Seattle,” Sud said. “When you go to another city to shoot, you have to fall in love with stuff there if something feels right. I know the mountains aren’t that close to Mercer Island. Geographically, we’re trying to be as truthful as we can, but your heart also has to lead the direction if something feels right.”

Developed for television by Sud, a former “Cold Case” writer, “The Killing” is based on the 2007 Danish series “Forbrydelsen.” Sud said Vancouver was chosen as a shooting location for logistical reasons — but finances are often another reason why American television shows set up shop in Hollywood North.

“My heart was set on filming in Seattle, but it was purely for production reasons,” she said. “It’s incredibly cinematic a la AMC style.”

A second unit crew — pilot director Patty Jenkins (“Monster’s Ball”) and two cinematographers — did some shooting in Seattle last June, capturing establishing shots of the city and aerial views.

Doing research as she was writing the pilot, Sud visited Seattle for the first time.

“The graphic beauty of Seattle was so compelling; it reminded me of Copenhagen in the Danish series, incredibly brooding and tragic,” said Sud, who grew up outside Cincinnati. She was unconcerned about past series set in Seattle — she’s never watched “Twin Peaks” — and intrigued by the notion of setting “The Killing” in the state known as the home of serial killers Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgway (aka “The Green River Killer”).

“As I started to research more about Seattle, it became clear it’s one of the most liberal cities in America and one of the most literate ... and yet it’s also a city with a dark underbelly,” she said. “It has a huge runaway population that’s very striking when you’re a visitor to the city and see so many of these lost kids.”

Sud said she hopes to return to Seattle for more second-unit filming if the show gets picked up for a second season, and she doesn’t rule out principle photography in Seattle with the show’s cast.

“One of the things we learned shooting one city for another is the importance of capturing the spirit of a place versus the literal landmarks,” she said. “When you live in a city, you don’t walk down the tourist section, which is what we see all the time: ‘Hey, I live in New York; I’m gonna walk down Times Square,’ but if you live in New York, you never walk in Times Square. So it forced us to think, if you live in a place, what do you really do, where do you really go, where do you have conversations and scenes that are not the easy kind of, ‘Hey, this is Seattle.’”

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