Producer Elliot Wolf says “podcast” isn’t the right word for Hunted, the new eight-part scripted crime thriller he’s producing under the Wolf Entertainment banner.
“We were aiming to make a cinematic podcast,” says Wolf, the show’s executive producer and son of Wolf Entertainment creator Dick Wolf (the mastermind of the Law & Order franchise). “It’s an audio fiction series. It’s something that feels big.”
Hunted is the first in a series of audio projects from Wolf Entertainment in partnership with Endeavor Audio. It stars Parker Posey as Emily Barnes, a deputy U.S. marshal in southern Texas who’s determined to capture four escaped fugitives before the sun comes up the next morning. The action pings back and forth between the four convicts on the run and Barnes and her team working to second-guess and outmaneuver them before they have a chance to run too far. The first two episodes drop today, November 12. New episodes will appear each week, and the final two will be available on December 17.
The evocative title “audio fiction series” sounds like it has its roots in the type of textured radio storytelling popular in the days before television, and Wolf says that’s absolutely intentional. The show’s sound design team has a background in film rather than podcasting, and they’re pushing those skills to the limit in Hunted. Listeners hear everything from the crunch of the rocky soil under the marshal’s feet to a clerk shuffling dollar bills in a cash register. As a result, Hunted feels expansive and intimate at the same time. Listeners might find themselves sucked in, not just by the crime story, but by the aural environment each episode creates.
Wolf says the team was intrigued by the idea of experimenting with ideas that don’t lend themselves to television or other media. Without costumes, make-up, or exotic locations to help tell the story, the team experimented with sound as an important element of the story. “We’d change locations based on the scene,” Wolf says. “For scenes that were outside, we went outside. For scenes in a hallway, we went into a hallway,” he says. “The goal was to give the listener a story as good as any of our television shows.”
In addition to Law & Order, the Wolf television shows include the Chicago shows (Fire, P.D., and Med) and the FBI dramas airing on CBS. Hunted‘s creative team includes former Law & Order: SVU writer Jeffrey Baker and Shawn Christensen, who also directed the Blackout podcast with Rami Malek. Wolf says Posey and the other Hunted actors were attracted to the combination of writing and the challenge of building rich characters in a short time in an audio-only medium.
Scripted fiction podcasts are becoming the next wave in audio entertainment. In addition to Endeavor’s Blackout, Marvel has also ventured into scripted storytelling with Wolverine, starring Berlin Station‘s Richard Armitage. Wolf Entertainment’s established reputation for addictive crime dramas might attract some new podcast listeners. Wolf says the company sees this as a way to experiment with programs for long-time fans in a different storytelling format. “We definitely wanted to try something new,” he says. “We felt because this is a new medium, it was an opportunity to give our fans a new experience.”
Wolf Entertainment hopes to release more scripted audio programs in the near future, but Wolf says things are still in the planning stages. The one thing he does know is that all the stories will be crime-focused.
“This is our lane,” he says. “We want to tell quality, crime-driven stories in a cinematic way. If fans respond to it, then we can run with it.”