As parents, their goal is to protect their child from the darkness that lurks in the world; the killers, the kidnappers, the people who mean to do us all harm. The hope is their lives are untouched from chaos, their bubble remains unbroken and their lives are filled with enough joy to override the sadness.
But as they become older, it’s time to lessen the grip, slowly peeling back their innocence and allow them to see the world for what it really is: bright and beautiful, dark and scary.
In Apple TV+’s Home Before Dark, this delicate balance rings true in the home of Hilde Lysiak (Brooklynn Prince), a 9-year old journalist who is out to solve the murder of a cold case while also juggling growing friendships and the fourth grade. Her father Matt Matt Lisko (Jim Sturgress), a journalist himself struggles with protecting his daughter from the dangers of the case while allowing her freedom to follow her heart.
Inspired by real events, Home Before Dark is an amazing murder-mystery series centered around this child reporter with her own self-published “Orange Street News” who took her small-town by storm and angered parents while searching for the truth.
The Koalition spoke to Executive Producer Dara Resnik about creating a show that expertly balances the darkness of a murder-mystery with the joys of being a kid.
“What’s really unique about the show is that we started working on it a little over three years ago and we thought it was current then; it was not long ago from the 2016 election and the term ‘fake news’ was becoming really popular and journalism felt really threatened. It’s mind-boggling to us that as the years’ pass, it gets more and more relevant. Now in the pandemic, there’s a depth of relevance to the underlining theme of truth that we keep returning to and having real conversations with our children about what the truth is, telling them facts, telling them the things that are nullable, having the hard conversations as a family.”
“My sister said, there’s no such thing as a secret to a child. She’s an elementary school teacher. Kids know, they are natural investigators. I think that this show is a necessary jumping-off point for families to have hard conversations and I truly hope it does that.”
Inspired by the real-life, award-winning kid journalist Hilde Lysiak —the nine-year-old unwittingly discovers a link to the kidnapping and disappearance of her father, Matt’s childhood best friend 31 years ago.
“As it says at the beginning of the show it’s ‘inspired by,’ it’s very much inspired by Hilde and inspired by her ethos and very much inspired by what she’s capable of doing. As opposed to certain other shows that are purely auteur visions, it was a constant conversation of where to lean into the darkness and the emotional truth of what we were dealing with and where to let them really have some fun. It certainly was very intentional.”
“Pixar and Amblin [Entertainment] were our guides. Elliot comes from a deeply troubled house in E.T. He feels alienated and so he becomes an alien. Look at Close Encounters of the Third Kind which truly deal with people who were ostensibly going through some sort of parable of mental illness. There’s a lot of darkness in those movies and yet the darkness is what grounds us so we can feel the deep joy in those characters journeys as well. We really took our cue from there and did our best. Pixar does the same thing. You’re weeping at a Pixar movie in one second and you’re laughing hysterically the next.”
“There were seven questions on our writers board that we were always really challenged to answer about every episode: Where will I have chills? Where will I have a sense of adventure? Where will I cry? And making sure that every scene in every episode plays to all the demographics and different emotions in those various ways.”
Already renewed for a second season, the show is planned as a multi-season series. “We had a lot of ideas and when we got [the second season] we knew exactly where we wanted the show to head. Once this pandemic has passed we will start shooting it. There is an unending world of story for Hilde to explore. Just like the real Hilde has done everything from bust a meth ring in her school to interview Malala Yousafzai, we tried to take cues, always looking back at the real Hilde and the real Matt and what is their truth both in their life and their careers and the emotional truth. The real Hilde has gone to many places and our Hilde will too.”
Home Before Dark is currently streaming on Apple TV+.
To learn more about the show, check out our full interview below.