LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The true crime documentary 'Tiger King' took the country by storm after launching on Netflix the same week most cities shut down at the start of the pandemic. It was so massively popular, producers said they immediately started working on season two. That lead them to Southern Indiana, where our FOCUS investigation into Tim Stark and Wildlife in Need took center stage.
Within 30 days its 2020 release, more than 64 million households had watched Tiger King on Netflix.
"It came out, was a little bit of a sensation so Netflix said don't stop filming. Just keep going. Even though COVID was going on, they said do what you can," Tiger King editor Doug Abel said.
The Louisville-based film editor said he spent years working on the project and was surprised how quickly after it was released Netflix decided they wanted more. "We sort of just followed where the chaos was."
That was a journey, he said, lead the team right to his own backyard.
Abel explained, "I got a call and they said there's a guy who's about 20 minutes away. I know you're an editor, but do other stuff too, would you feel comfortable interview him? I said sure."
The first season of the Netflix series was released just weeks after our investigation, which revealed allegations of abuse and neglect at Wildlife in Need.
The Tiger King crew was following it all. "Tim ended up being a pretty major character," Abel said, "The general principal is roll cameras and we don't have to use it if we're uncomfortable with it."
Stark's storyline was less sensational than some of those in season one, according to the producer. So, what will you see this time around?
"You see these places really struggling to stay open and you see authorities coming in and using the legal system to take these places to task," Abel explained.
He said helping exotic animals was always in the DNA of the Tiger King project but drama drove it out of the original episodes.
"With Joe and Carol Baskin, that got lost. So it was almost a weekly discussion in the second season, how can we try to keep the focus on that? So efforts were made to try to do that," Abel said.
Another element you will see in Tiger King 2, cameras capture intense confrontations between Stark and the people fighting to shut him down.
Abel said, "Tiger King is by far the most bonkers, largest, most difficult project I've ever worked on. It was just so hard to figure out how do you tell this crazy story."
Abel's work, from his edit suite on the second story of his Louisville home, will soon be seen by millions across the country. "I hope we can do more justice to the tigers and the other animals this time around."
Season two debuts on Netflix on November 17th.