October 24, 2016

'Black Mirror': How Directors Joe Wright and Owen Harris Built Dystopian Worlds That Look Like Our Own [PODCAST]

With an imagination like Charlie Brooker's at your disposal, translating language into imagery is "like butter."

Quite often on the No Film School Podcast, our subjects tell horror stories from their productions. For Owen Harris and Joe Wright, two directors featured on Netflix's new season of Black Mirror, there just weren't any to tell. So what is it like to be part of a perfect production? From the beautifully conceived scripts to working with an impeccably matched distributor, the process as Mr. Wright put it, was "like butter."

If you aren’t familiar with the anthology show, Black Mirror got its start on Great Britain’s Channel 4 (ahem, not the BBC) way back in 2011. It may best be labeled as “dystopian tech-fi,” in that it deals with technology existing in our modern world that has potentially  sinister implications in the future. It's easy to see how society could slip into anyone of the nightmarish scenarios which Brooker creates, and perhaps that's what makes the series so effective.

After two seasons with Channel 4, Black Mirror would go on to become a sensation in the United States thanks to millions of binge watchers on Netflix. So when Channel 4 announced it would no longer produce the show, it only made sense for Netflix to pick it up and fund a new season, which premiered on October 21.
 
This episode of the No Film School Podcast is broken up into two parts. The first is an interview with Joe Wright, who directed the episode Nosedive. The episode paints a picture of a future where every single interaction leads to a rating on social media. The higher your "person rating," the more access you get to certain social privileges. The lower it is.... well, let’s just say you don’t want a low score. Mr. Wright has directed some big-budget adaptations, including Atonement, Pride & Prejudice, Anna Karenina, and most recently Pan. Among other things, we discussed his transition from big budget picture to streaming TV and actors are the most important tool at your disposal as a filmmaker.  
 
 
Next, I talked with Owen Harris, director of the pilot San Junipero episode. This episode imagines a future where VR provides a peaceful transition into death. No stranger to the series, Mr. Harris also directed the classic Be Right Back episode back in Season 2, about a grieving widow who uses computer software that allows her to "talk" to the deceased. We discussed the differences between directing for anthology and episodic TV and his open collaboration with writer/creator Charlie Brooker.

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This episode was produced and edited by Jon Fusco.

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3 Comments

I love everything about this series! Thanks for the article!!

October 24, 2016 at 1:40PM

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Dee Horvath
Project Manager - Graphic Designer - CGI Artist
20

Great insights from these guys really enjoyable!

October 25, 2016 at 6:54AM

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Liam Martin
DP, editor, part time director
481

Also, I know people who live in the world of Nosedive already, it's terrifying. There's someone on my Facebook that photoshops her own face and it's really obvious. Shudder.

October 25, 2016 at 6:56AM

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Reply
Liam Martin
DP, editor, part time director
481