The following is an interview with director/writer Alberto Triana, Executive Producer and actress Jackie Gerhardy, and producer/script supervisor Melissa Del Rosario regarding the release of The Last of Us: Part 2 fan film, The Hunted. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Triana, Gerhardy, and Del Rosario about their creative approach to working within The Last of Us world, their work with the cast and crew, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Your The Last of Us: Part 2 fan film, The Hunted, recently released on YouTube. For our readers who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of your film?
Alberto Triana: The Hunted picks up smack dab in the middle of Ellie’s crusade for revenge. She’s lost her father figure and is on a warpath to find the person responsible. She quickly discovers her mission is going to be a lot more difficult than she initially anticipated. I wanted the story to start with Ellie in a position of power and to show how quickly that power can shift. The whole idea of “The Hunter becoming The Hunted” She thinks she has one up on everyone, until the rug is pulled out from under her and she has to fight just to survive.
Jackie Gerhardy: Our film follows Elle in the middle of her quest for revenge on “Abby,” as she plunges into desperation, rage, and survival.
BD: As a film set within the Last of Us universe, what can you share about your approach to utilizing such well-known characters and to providing your own unique take on the mythos?
AT: Any fan film is a daunting endeavor. Every major property has its own dedicated fan base, and they are extremely passionate about these stories and characters. I’m just as much a fan of The Last Of Us franchise as anyone else in the fandom. I love the world they built, but it’s always about character. Our biggest challenge was to present our version of Ellie as authentically as possible, but also try to bring something new to the table. Something fresh. Revenge ain’t pretty, and I wanted to showcase that in this film. Jackie and I spent a lot of time watching other fan films and we saw a lot of common things among them, that was when we knew if we wanted to stick out, we had to try something different. Jackie is an extremely talented martial artist and stunt person, so we leaned into that aspect of it to showcase how tough our Ellie can be.
JG: I personally wanted to showcase a savage Elle from the game. Almost as if someone playing was trying to be stealthy but failed and so they aggressively respond to all threats. I knew Alberto could write and shoot something that would effectively drop her into the madness and I’m happy with what we cooked up.
BD: What can you tell us about the process of working with the cast and crew of the film and the contributions of these individuals?
AT: The film wouldn’t exist without them! Filmmaking is such a collaborative effort. I grew up playing football and I always looked at filmmaking the same. Every crew member has a specific position and task to complete and the team cannot win if everyone isn’t doing their part. This was still a labor of love so Myself and a lot of others had to wear multiple hats on this film. That comes with its own set of challenges, but I think we all thrive in that environment, we push each other to be better than we have been and when you’re surrounded by positive vibes and dedication, you’re gonna win.
When Jackie first approached me with the concept and her pitch for this film, I was immediately drawn in. I’ve known her for years and we both have always wanted to do a project like this. This film would not have happened if it wasn’t for her unwavering dedication to the project and doing what was needed at every phase. She acted, she did stunts, she helped build props, she actually built the Clicker masks in the film. She paid for things! She gathered the stunt team, I just hit record haha. In all seriousness, this was such a wonderful collaborative process. She trusted me with my creative decisions and let me do things I wanted to do visually or with the script. That trust is important when you get into a production, especially one filled with stunts and action. A lot of the key players are such close friends of mine that I have known for years. We all came up together in this wild indie film grind. We were all hungry for a project like this and it made everything easier on set because of our relationship and our ability to short hand things with one another. One of my proudest aspects about this film was how much fun we had making it. It was such a pleasure to be on set with everyone. No egos, no pride. Just a group of individuals having an amazing time making a film with each other.
JG: We wanted to bring all our friends on and keep the on-set environment going as smooth as possible. We had so much fun. Everyone worked so hard and wore multiple hats, I’m grateful for everyone who came to help us. I really asked a lot of Angel, one of our fight coordinators, when we were building movement for the short, and he was on set every day in Vegas doing everything.
Melissa Del Rosario: Every film project requires a different process. This film has to be one of my favorite film’s to date because from beginning to end, every person on this project gave 200%. One crew member had daily commitments, but the rest of the cast and crew had no problem switching to overnights when we could – which is not always an easy transition and comes with challenges, such as cheating night for day. Actors would double as crew, helping come in early to prep the location and even after their shooting was done, volunteering to come in and help clean the locations out. This was also an extremely low budget film that couldn’t have been made without our film family (cast and crew).
BD: Do you find that many of the cast and crew were fans of The Last of Us universe prior to filming, and how to you feel that this impacts or enhances their experience in filming?
AT: One of my favorite moments on set was shooting the Kitchen scene. Every fan on the team would turn to me and say, “This is straight out of the game!” I knew we were on the right track. It helps having that type of feedback on set. It reminds me that the ideas and direction is working and as stressful as working overnights on a film set can be, it’s always worth it when you look at it on the screen and everyone leans in with excitement. My main focus is always to make a good film but with a property like this, you are held to a different set of standards. You HAVE to take the fans into consideration, but I found that if you’re a fan, just make the film you wanna see and it will work out.
JG: We had people who knew nothing and we had nerds. As soon as I found out we had a crew/cast member who was a fan I always would check in. What do you think? And we always loved input because Alberto and I are huge fans. I knew as soon as I saw production stills from day 1, however, that we had something special.
MDR: I was one of the few crew members who didn’t know about the Last of Us universe until I was approached with the script. After that, I watched a ton of game play, it was too scary just to watch for me let alone play but there was a lot of heart in what I did watch. I am so proud of the film we made.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that The Hunted’s story will connect with and impact viewers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
AT: I think we all at one point or another question “How far will go for a loved one?” Ellie was wronged and someone she loved dearly was taken from her. Now she goes to extreme lengths to get even with the people responsible. It’s a morally ambiguous road we travel down where viewers would have to ask themselves “Would I?” and I think that’s a powerful moment of self examination for every audience member. On top of that, Ellie is an incredibly powerful female character and it was important for us to show that in this film. Fans of the game know the emotional arc she goes through, we wanted to highlight how physically strong she would have to be too. This is a dangerous world filled with infectious monsters and they aren’t the worst of it. It’s always fascinating how the worst atrocities are not done by the creatures, but the people. Whether it’s survival, desperation, lust for power, a skewed sense of religion or “law” we see these people for who they truly are and Ellie has to respond accordingly.
For any aspiring filmmakers out there, focus on your craft. Find your tribe and ultimately make the film you want to see. We all put in a lot for this film; time, equipment, skills, even our own money. We didn’t have some investor give us money to make this. We pulled our resources together and made a film we could with what we have but also pushed ourselves to a higher standard. You should always keep that ambition. Something that pushes you from your comfort zone so you can grow as a creative. Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll discover how to make it work next time. The lessons I learned on this project far surpasses anything I could read in a book or watch on a video. Go out there and make your film. Then make another.
JG: I think it was important for us to challenge ourselves to push our filmmaking to the next level. We took our time in pre-production until everything felt right to begin. I hope we inspire others to pull their resources and create something they are passionate about. You will not regret it!
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are currently working?
AT: I got a few feature films lined up for next year I’m extremely excited about. I’m also finishing up another film titled Onion Soup, where you’ll see some familiar faces pop up on that one, too! I can also say I’m not done in the fan film arena; I have a Resident Evil fan film I will go into production next year which I think fans will be surprised to see.
JG: I’m currently a Stunt Double on a major network television show. In between I’m helping our little production team edit Onion Soup, where I might make a cameo appearance, as well.
MDR: I am so excited for the upcoming release of Onion Soup made by several of the same cast and crew members of The Hunted. Onion Soup is set in the same universe as HBO Max’s Warrior, based on Bruce Lee’s writings, but inspired by the recent rise in Asian American targetted racist crimes, of which I was targeted, as well. It was super important to me to make a film that tackles the rise of Asian hate crimes today, but also begs the question, why couldn’t we be tolerant of others and choose to share our culture instead?
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about The Hunted?
AT: I’m on Instagram (@sabearmedia). I’m always posting updates on productions and projects there. I’d love to answer any and all questions. I love interacting with other filmmakers and fans alike. I believe we all have something to learn from each other and I genuinely look forward to it.
JG: If you want to learn more follow me on Instagram (@jackiegthatsme). I’ll be posting BTS here and on TikTok on our process. We all would love to answer any questions.
MDR: If you want any more updates about The Hunted – we will be releasing more BTS on our social media channels (@roseraymedia @sabearmedia @jackiegthatsme) and are also open to any questions or concerns if you DM us! Also – if anyone knows anyone at HBO – we would love to work with you, @druckmann @hbothelastofus!
Thank you so much for your time reading this and thank you so much for supporting independent filmmakers, Barbra and Fanbase Press!