USA has taken another gamble on intelligent, cinematic programming with their latest show, Falling Water, and we were fortunate enough to sit down with some of the cast and crew at New York Comic Con.
See what they had to say about the new show and be sure to catch it Thursdays at 10 PM on USA!
Zak Orth shared with us that the show is so visually arresting with the dream sequences that it’s a pleasure to let yourself go as an actor. He finds them strange and off, but also compelling and a way to drive forward the plot and deepen the world in a way that the waking world cannot achieve.
He finds all of the characters to be great and that the show itself assumes a great deal of intelligence in the audience, with so much potential to appeal to a wide variety of people. He’s also greatly enjoying shooting on location in New York because he lives there.
For his character, Bill, he teases that the information Bill chooses to reveal may or may not be truthful. As the season progresses, the show will explain more about Bill’s own agenda and where his fascination with the dreams comes from.
Neuroscientist Moran Cerf, who serves as a consultant on Falling Water, was on hand to discuss how he ended up with that job. Previously, he’d been a full time hacker and thought he’d do that for the rest of his life. It wasn’t until he met a man who was a hacker in World War II and learned that when the war ended, all of the hackers went into the sciences. He was encouraged to apply the same knowledge he’d learned hacking to something that would help people and that’s how he went into his second career.
Cerf wasn’t brought in until after the first episode had already begun filming, but he was pleasantly surprised to find that his thoughts on dreaming aligned with what the show was already doing. He notes that the show was meant to be science-fiction, not his lab, so it’s a bit more fantastical than reality, but he’s hopeful that it will inspire people to go into the sciences.
Actress Lizzie Brochere explained how her character is a trendspotter, which affords her an instinctive feeling of where the masses are going. She explained how Tess has a complicated relationship with her mother, as well as her dream son – which had caused Tess to check herself into a mental institution at one point. In reality, she’s so guarded and tense.
Her trust issues led to a strong paranoia and initially, she feels more comfortable in the dream world, but that will change over the course of the season. In the dreams, Tess is less guarded and more open to experiencing things, she wants to touch and smell and experience things.
Little by little, the audience will see Tess open up throughout the season as she goes through a metamorphosis of sorts. Brochere is hopeful for a second season so that Tess has time to find her ground and open up.
Brochere admitted that it was a relief as an actor to finally converge with the rest of the characters. She also greatly enjoyed shooting in New York, despite not living in the city, and found that playing a trendspotter in the city was very inspiring.
As far as preparing for the part, Brochere explained that she explored lucid dreaming, as well as reading about dream meanings and keeping a dream diary, but it was even more than that. She has a ritual before she goes to sleep now and remembers every dream she has. She even managed to go a little bit method when the process caused her to become moody and slightly distrusting throughout the very intense season.
Will Yun Lee described his character as a NYPD detective and deep-thinking loner with the nickname ‘The Hunch’ because he has all these weird hunches that he pieces together from random information. He felt like Blake Masters read a bio on his life and wrote the character specifically tailored to him, referencing his character’s relationship to his mother and how incidents in his own life informed on his acting. It was cathartic and awful at the same time.
He was also excited to be able to play a character with so many layers, joking that he’s done every Chinatown episode for every serialized drama out there. When he first looked at the character, he realized it was the first time in eighteen years, that he got to speak how he speaks and related to a lot of the feelings the character had.
Lee explained the show as not having a template to fit into and no real good comparisons. He echoed what many of the other cast and crew members felt, that audiences could not be distracted while watching this show. He said that this was the first show he’s done where the actors would collectively text each other when they got scripts to try to figure things out for themselves.
Blake Masters asserted that Falling Water is a show that treats its audience as intelligent and willing to engage. He wants audiences to the show as if they were watching a movie and then they want people to engage and talk about it. Gale Anne Hurd encouraged people to watch episodes a second time for things that may have been missed on the first viewing.
Masters doesn’t discourage binge-watching and encourages it if it gets people to watch the show. He thinks that the delayed gratification can be fun, but ultimately he just wants people to enjoy it. He also wants to put together an instagram feed for fans to submit their own interpretations of their dreams and allow them to engage in that world. There is going to be launching soon in partnership with the show, gooddreamer.com. It is a dream interpretation site where you can put in your dreams and receive a rudimentary interpretation with visuals.
The show came about when Masters and the late Henry Bromwell thought about writing movies, but were television guys way back in 2006. They looked at shows like The Sopranos and The Wire, which were doing homages to 1970s cinema, and thought that they’d take that and add a bit of magic – like what’s found in Game of Thrones, Westworld, and Mr. Robot.
They created Falling Water to be character-grounded within a fantastical world. Masters promised that the entire mystery would be told within the first season, where audiences would know the rules and the mythology, but the the universe itself was interesting, allowing for future stories to be told in future seasons.
Gale Anne Hurd explained that the show also shoots an episode in seven and a half days, which is impressive given the visuals and the complexity of characters. Masters himself directed the finale and gave much of the credit to the production team. For one scene, it took six hours to shoot and another four to sound mix.
Back in 2006, Masters no idea how he was going to pull off the dream sequences, but he knew that it was important to dream in first person and never leave the dreamer. He didn’t worry about how it was going to occur and he trusts the production team to help him achieve his visuals. They recreated and built a lot of different things themselves to achieve what they wanted.
They shared that the scripts are short and visual by nature, with the finale script being only 39 pages and the editor’s cut was 70 minutes long. In the editing room, they really encouraged everyone to take their time and allow for the show to wash over people.
With that mindset, they brought in the metaphor of water, where the show got its name from, as it’s like a wall that can be reached through and sensed what’s on the other side.
When Masters saw Mr. Robot on USA, he realized that it was the right network for Falling Water. Hurd explained that networks are made up of people and that the same early advocate of Mr. Robot was an early advocate of their show, making them fortunate enough to be the second show that the network really took a chance on.
To close out the interview, Masters and Hurd talked about how they didn’t start out trying to write about diversity, but they tried writing New York. Masters explained that they have a transgender member of the cast, but it will never be brought up or discussed because, “that’s the fucking point.” He doesn’t want people defined by their gender or race, but by who they are, and he believes that the most progressive way to approach diversity is to normalize it.