Adapted from a 2016 short animated film by Joseph Bennett and Charles Huettner, and produced by Green Street Pictures, Scavengers Reign has expanded into a compelling 12-episode series, currently ranking among the most-watched shows on Max. CalArts alum Sean Buckelew (Film/Video MFA 14), co-founder of Green Street Pictures, contributed as the co-executive producer and wrote four episodes of this gripping sci-fi series.
Like the original short film, Scavengers Reign takes place on a beautiful but hostile alien world. After crash-landing on the planet, three groups of survivors, who are isolated from one another, attempt to survive in hopes of finding a way back home.
Much like the nature documentaries that lent inspiration to Scavengers Reign, the series conveys a reverence for the natural world despite its hostility that highlights the invasiveness of the human characters and their effect on a foreign ecosystem. In addition to exploring how these characters will adapt (or fail to adapt), the show also examines the role of grief in each of the characters’ lives, as they struggle to deal with loss and certain choices leading up to the crash.
Scavengers Reign premiered on Oct. 19, and since its release, the show has garnered extensive critical acclaim, earning praise from The New York Times as a “lush, magnificent, hypnotic story of human survival in a place that feels, in a way that sci-fi planets only occasionally manage, truly otherworldly.”
Not having to start from scratch proved to be advantageous in a number of ways. “I felt like the short showed us what could work and be compelling on a visual level,” Buckelew told io9 in an interview. “When we were writing, we had these big visual set pieces that we put in with more assurance that it’d work in execution. The short’s visual language inspired how we can approach writing and the kind of set pieces we could have.”
Buckelew is an award-winning animator, writer, and director. In addition to filmmaking, he is a programmer and curator at the international GLAS Animation Festival, and the recipient of a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship and an Art Directors Club (ADC) Young Guns Award.