‘Jury Duty’, ‘Poker Face’, ‘American Born Chinese’ Creative Teams Discuss Their Unique Collaborative Processes

When making a TV show, the creative team typically has an idea of ​​who could play the main characters. But in the case of Freevees’ hit series Jury Duty, casting director Susie Farris was faced with a unique challenge. When she sat down with producers Dave Bernad and Jake Szymanski, she explained: We want you to find people we don’t know. Really talented people. We’re choosing a judging panel, and it’s sort of The Joe Schmo Show meets The Office, Farris told Variety‘s “A Night With Artisans”, hosted by Artisan Senior Editor Jazz Tangcay. Farris appreciated the unexpected process, saying, “The beauty was that the actors basically had stories built around them, rather than the other way around.

Bob Ducsay, editor of many of Rian Johnson’s films, had never worked in episodic television before signing on to his mystery series Peacock Poker Face. He was excited to learn something new and credited a vital partner in the transition: my assistant who had worked in television before had to teach me how act breaks worked and how it all came together. But, because each episode is something like a feature film, it assured the audience that I was quite comfortable.

One element that added to the challenge was the production arrangement. The crazy thing is that episode 9 was the first episode [we shot]. I think it was very difficult on some level for everyone, because it’s such a dark episode. It’s very, very different from almost everyone else. The pitch was a little difficult to navigate simply because we knew it was an outlier. But Ducsay acknowledged Johnson’s big vision and ability to reassure everyone that the episodes would work together. I think they’ve done quite well, he said.

Fellow editor Taylor Mason had a different kind of challenge working on the Netflix series Dahmer Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. He needed to bring the story of the infamous serial killer to life without making it glamorous. Mason told the audience, It was kind of a feat. Evan Peters is so charismatic and demands the scene. It was really the visual language that we leaned into, to avoid glamorizing most of the characters in that series.

To do so, Mason favored a more distant approach to the subject. We have lived in the breadth a lot. We used a lot of static shots and had a sort of measured pace to allow us to tell the story without eliciting any audience empathy that generally comes with those tighter tights,” as he emphasized the need for a more objective perspective.

Music is an essential piece of storytelling, and P-Valley Music Supervisor Sarah Bromberg enjoyed highlighting female rap artists throughout the series. Quoting creator Katori Hall, Bromberg said, “We have a really amazing guiding light in Katori, who grew up in Memphis, close to where our fictional town in north Mississippi is set.

Bromberg shared that female vocals were a priority for Hall from the initial conversation, saying, “He’d always wanted to make sure the female voice was strong.” Rap has been a man’s game for many years and she wanted to highlight some of the amazing female rappers that are emerging. Constantly throughout the process, she asks how many female rappers do we have so far? So she always counts to make sure we’re really highlighting those voices.

Sean Callery, a composer who scored the Fox anthology series Accused, had the opportunity to amplify voices in another way. In the episode Avas Story, directed by Marlee Matlin, Ava is played by deaf actress Stephanie Nogueras. Callery recalled an important rule he learned from his mentor, Mark Snow, years ago: If you can’t hear the dialogue, no one is watching. This is a rule that he has carried forward throughout his work on other series. When it came to Accused, he was drawn to the sounds of Ava’s expression. Their speech was a combination of hand movements, which had a real sound. You can actually feel the hands and the friction, he explained.

Listening to the sounds of Noguera’s hands and mouth, she found it was beautiful. So we honored that and stayed out of it. He felt this was essential to the message of Ava’s story, saying, “By the end of the episode, it’s basically saying that we were born who we are.” We are fundamentally perfect just like that.

In A Small Light, composer Ariel Marx used a small ensemble to tell the story of Miep Gies (Bel Powley), the woman who protected Anne Frank’s family from the Nazis. He envisioned the instrumentation as humble, noting, it was a small ensemble. My influences were klezmer jazz, folk, classical music, the amalgamation of the music that was playing there at the time.

Marx’s small ensemble included violin, guitar, cello, clarinet, percussion and electronics. It was very minimal, he said. But again, she was an ordinary woman doing extraordinary things. And I took it really seriously in the ensemble. How big can we get this five-person band to sound? And how can they get more complex and braver as the series progresses? That was the guiding light for the palette.

Working on another kind of palette, art director Jacqueline Kay collaborated with production designers Michelle Yu and Cindy Chao to find the right designs and colors for their Disney+ series, American Born Chinese. Drawing from the graphic novel and Chinese symbolism, a large set, made for a gala, was designed as an octagon. Kay explained: In Chinese mythology, the octagonal shape is a symbol of balance, of harmony in the universe. For this particular sequence, they designed a set with a stage in the center for the host, and then each of the different zones represented different pieces of Chinese mythology.

Color was also essential to this process, as Kay told the audience, He was the Jade Emperor, so we played with jades and pinks and reds. What delineated the realm of God versus the human realm, we brought many pinks and reds into our trees with golds and jades, all of which are strongly symbolized in Chinese folklore.

The collaboration was key for cinematographer Ksenia Sereda when creating the scenes for HBO’s The Last of Us. In a vital opening scene, our main characters are trying to escape impending danger. The scene included elements of hand-held photography, stunt choreography, and timing. We made the decision to shoot this scene mostly ourselves, Sereda recalled. She was challenging and added, “You have to time things right on the inside.”

For Sereda, the decision to stay in a long shot helped the viewer stay connected to the characters, to spend the same amount of screen time with the characters as the viewer’s response in real life. But this could not have worked except for an organized production. It was very vital for the production to organize the work environment so that everything was safe and to have enough time to rehearse and for our team to build everything perfectly.

When asked about the most important collaborations on the set, Ms. Harris director and executive producer Owen Harris explained: There is not a single person more important. It’s definitely a collaboration. And it’s absolutely about trying to bring people together, making sure that if someone has a certain perspective, or an idea that’s been shared with someone else, that person feels empowered to share their ideas so that no one ends up feeling more or less important.

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