Created by Gale Anne Hurd, Blake Masters, and the late Henry Bromell, USA Network’s Falling Water had its debut at San Diego Comic-Con this year showing the entire pilot to their panel audiences in their world premiere. We had a chance to sit down with Hurd and Masters to talk a little bit about what to expect, come October, with the show’s official release.
Falling Water is described as a mind-bending drama and it is “the story of three unrelated people who slowly realize that they are dreaming separate parts of a single common dream. The deeper they dig, the more they come to realize that the visions found in their common dream just might hold the key to the fate of the world.” After the success of a show like Mr. Robot, Falling Water allows USA Network to dive deeper into more genre-related content.
The series stars Lizzie Brocheré (American Horror Story: Asylum) as Tess, Will Yun Lee (Hawaii 5-0) as Take, and David Ajala (Fast & Furious 6) as Burton. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) directed the pilot and will also executive produce the series.
In describing the show, Hurd detailed that it’s “a show about connections, this is a show about three seemingly unconnected people find out they are actually connected.” She said that the concept of the dream world is that “we are all bringing separate tiles in a universal dream, we only see our tile, but maybe there are people who can see other tiles.” This is seen in the trailer that shows the characters entering into different dreams outside of their own.
Although the concept of walking in other people’s dreams is not exactly a new one, modern audiences will be familiar with films like Inception and Dreamscape, however, Hurd was confident in the difference between Falling Water and other pieces. “What we have is different, certainly, and where it goes is very, very different,” she said. Fresnadillo’s direction in the pilot sets the tone for the show visually, it allows for “elevated genre, character-driven genre” and the result is visually stunning. Both Hurd and Masters praised Fresnadillo for the ability to create the unique tone required for the show.
“We’re dealing with the dream world, so [it’s] no holds barred,” Hurd added. There is a cinematic vision when it comes to each episode, and within the dream world anything can happen, you can create any kind of monster and create any kind of world. However, the consequences of the dream world are not untouchable, what happens in the dream world will have an impact in the real world.
Because of the nature of dreams and their elasticity, the genre itself becomes elastic, Hurd remarked that “There are elements of fantasy, there are elements of horror. There is a science fiction aspect, but it’s very grounded.” Masters noted that while the story is one that is about the characters, “It’s time for the next evolution in gritty drama. Audiences want a taste of magic now, they want that slightly heightened reality.”
Despite the mysterious nature of a show like this, both Masters and Hurd agreed that this would not be a show that deals solely in secrets and mystery. “We understand our characters, and we understand what their needs and desires are from the pilot, we are not going to spend a season trying to wonder what they are,” Hurd said. It would not be the kind of show that is full of questions without answers. “We’re not a show that intends to string out secrets forever, I think by the end of season one you will understand the entire mythology that we need you to understand in order to enjoy the show,” said Masters.
With such a visually driven show, the location was as important as the story or the characters, Masters talked about the importance of shooting the entire series in New York, and telling the network that “New York is fundamentally a part of the character of the show.” The images and visual cinematography played a key role as a part of the show, with an average 39-page script, Masters elaborated, “We are a show that deals in silence, we are a show where the dialogue is sparse on purpose. Where we want the images to be the thing that drive it.”
The show’s own diverse cast came together organically, as Masters explained that Burton’s character was not originally black nor was he British, but David Ajala won the role. Burton, who is the head of a multinational investment banking firm’s in-house security, is described by Hurd as a man who is madly in love with a woman who might potentially be someone he’s only met in his dreams.
Lizzie Brocheré, who plays a ‘trend spotter’ named Tess, who is searching for a child, self-taped her audition on an iPhone. Masters adds that they’d seen about 50 actresses in Los Angeles, but ended up giving the role to Brocheré, “She came in and was the part.”
Will Yun Lee’s Take is an NYPD detective and a son who is trying anything to bring his catatonic mother back. Masters mentioned a conversation he had with Lee in regards to his character and casting him as an Asian male, in which Masters remembered Lee commenting, “You realize traditionally Asian men do not get to play this well rounded of a human being.” Whatever praise the show may get for their casting, Masters affirmed the facts, “I wasn’t consciously setting out to do diversity. I was consciously setting out to have three great actors.”