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Crime News CrimeCon 2023

How Is Snapped Made? The Executive Producers of the True Crime Hit Tell All

During a panel, the executive producers shared behind-the-scenes info about the making of the Oxygen True Crime series.

By Cydney Contreras

Snapped has long been a true crime series staple — in fact, the show is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year in 2024. For 20 years, "from socialites to secretaries, from moms to mistresses and everything in between, Snapped has given true crime fans what they crave — tales of ordinary and extraordinary women, of all ages and from all backgrounds who were driven to murder," reads a recent press release.

How to Watch

Watch Snapped on Oxygen Sundays 6/5c and next day on Peacock. Catch up on the Oxygen App.

Before the show celebrates the big occasion with a two-hour special episode (airing Sunday, May 12 at 6/5c on Oxygen True Crime), let's look back on the origins of Snapped, which were explored in a CrimeCon panel last year.

The executive producers of Snapped took CrimeCon 2023 attendees behind the scenes of the series, revealing how they create the show from beginning to end.

How did Snapped begin?

As executive producer and showrunner Deborah Allen explained during the panel — she was also joined by Madeline Griffey (EP, Showrunner), David Lane (Director of Recreations, Field Producer), and Stephanie Steele (SVP of Unscripted Production, Oxygen True Crime) — Snapped was first conceived in 2003, when Jupiter Entertainment executives learned that only 8 percent of murders are committed by women, most of whom had no prior history of violence. After hearing this statistic, Allen said she wanted to know "what was it that made them snap?"

They then began to develop the series for Oxygen, but under a much different name: Pure Evil

"We knew that that wasn't quite right," Allen said, adding that they considered dozens more titles but their discussions continued to come back to the way these women simply snapped: "It seemed like it couldn't have been anything else."

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With a title picked and the premise of the series set, the team got to work. They began picking cases, conducting interviews, and filming recreations, all with the help of a small team. In fact, Lane, Griffey and Allen have all worn multiple hats while making Snapped over the past two decades, even stepping in as background actors. Griffey even shared that one person on the recreations team "was a cameraman who was also the lighting man who was also the director."

"That was pretty much it," she said. 

What is Snapped about?

Those first seasons also centered on much different cases from the ones viewers see today. As Allen explained, "Initially, we really started with stories that were very glamorous, wealthy women. But by the time we hit Season 3, we did a little bit of a change up because we really felt like we wanted to cover stories of women that were relatable and so we did a little bit of a shift there."

The team thinks that this shift attributed to the success of the series, explaining that the relatability factor makes it all the more fascinating.

"We've all been in situations where we hit this precipice of anger and frustration," Lane said, adding that they continue to come back to the reason why this person's anger manifested in a murder. "It's really important to the story to understand."

In those first seasons, they tried to explain the psyche of the killer but as the show has grown from a 30-minute program to a full hour, they've been able to give more of a spotlight to the families and loved ones of the victims. Lane emphasized that the interview subjects are "reliving the worst moment of their lives," so having compassion for such individuals is essential.

And the more details the producers have, the better they're able to do their jobs, namely filming recreations. While they don't need every last detail to be able to make the show, Lane said that knowing whether there were 20 police officers or just two at a scene can really put the viewer in a person's shoes. 

"I can't imagine trying to do recreations without the interviews because that's what we're recreating, you know, that person's experience," Allen said.

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As the show has grown, they've taken things a step further, with Lane sharing, "What you see in Snapped, when you see police officers, they are very likely 95% of the time real police officers. It's amazing."

The officers will even give actors guidance on how to most accurately depict an arrest or any other scene of that nature. 

Where is Snapped filmed?

The scenes are often filmed on Jupiter Location's set, where they're able to recreate all sorts of settings including hospitals, jails, homes and more, all within one warehouse. They're able to make this happen because of their extensive collection of props, which ranges from bloody mallets to medieval swords.

"We have this huge storage facility where we keep all of that and as a person you can essentially go shopping. You can go there and you can shop for what you need to make that scene look like a 1970s murder in Dallas, Texas if you want and we have a lot of that stuff on hand to make that happen," Lane shared.

And though Jupiter Entertainment is mainly filmed at their studio, they have location scouts who will go out and find the ideal location for them to film in Knoxville, Tennessee, where their offices are located. As Lane put it, "We can do anything really. We can make entire snow scenes in the middle of July."

The Snapped Narrator's Day Job

Snapped viewers are very familiar with Sharon Martin, who has been the narrator for almost all of the episodes. But fans may not know that Martin actually started out as a supervising producer on the series.

How she became the narrator is a funny story. As a producer, Martin did the temporary voiceovers on the series before they were finalized and her storytelling abilities wowed everyone in the process. Allen said they continued interviewing voice actors while making the show but kept returning to Martin, ultimately making her the narrator full time.

"No one did it the way Sharon did it," Allen explained.

Watch new episodes of Snapped on Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen, and the next day on Peacock.

Originally published Sep 25, 2023.

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