‘Succession’ Season 3: Creating a World to Destroy for the Roy Family

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Organized by the IndieWire Crafts team, Craft Considerations is a platform for filmmakers to talk about recent work that we believe deserves recognition. Partnering with HBO, for this edition, we take a look at how executive producer and director Mark Mylod, cinematographers Christopher Norr and Patrick Capone, and production designer Stephen H. Carter expanded the reach and psychology of the fierce characters in season 3 of “Succession”.

“Succession,” more than any other TV show in recent years, has been tagged with the term “Shakespearean” – in part because that’s what people say when a show is meaty and good. But it’s also a shorthand for describing the mix of abusive family drama and exquisitely crisp humor, driven by both the writing and the visual style of the show. The “succession” does not content itself with asking the question of who will kiss papa Roy but visually undermines the privileged bubbles in which the Roy live. It does so through sets that flatten the pleasure of wealth while capturing its soulless aesthetic, camera work designed to react almost like another member of the ensemble, and a shooting style that strays away from the crowd. traditional hedging methods to support performance. Maintaining that rich style, which tells so many stories on its own, during the twists and turns of Season 3 as well as the filming restrictions during a pandemic has been a huge challenge for the ‘Succession’ creative team.

In the videos below, you’ll see how they tackled this challenge. Director and Executive Producer Mark Mylod discusses the process behind finding and increasing the show’s level of intensity as it heads towards massive showdowns and betrayals; cinematographers Christopher Norr and Patrick Capone discuss finding cinematic still moments that complement the show’s visual language, using their cameras to create a power dynamic between the characters; and set designer Stephen H. Carter talks about the increasing complexity of the series’ sets in order to help the characters move forward (or backward).

The management of the “Succession”

Director and executive producer Mark Mylod was determined to get into Season 3. He saw both the unexpected restrictions on safe filming during the COVID-19 pandemic and the natural evolution of a TV series as a challenge. in its third season. “When you get a show that thrives on a messy or irregular edge in terms of pace, what can often happen is that over successive seasons those edges become rounded,” Mylod said. “So I find that a lot of my job is actually being the keeper of that jagged edge, keeping it messy.”

Mylod continually resists the urge to build tight or beautifully composed frames, instead favoring a set that supports filming as close to 360 degrees as possible so that the actors feel free to move around and react spontaneously; equally important to Mylod is that cameramen feel free to find organic moments that hammer a dramatic or comedic point by examining its ripple effects or peripheral reactions, which ultimately help make sense of each scene.

The “All The Bells Say” finale has a number of moments of dynamic change that Mylod helped guide, but one of his favorites was a single, where the camera operator found Willa (Justine Lupe) taking a huge sip of wine as Connor (Alan Ruck) brags about accepting his proposal. “Justine was maybe 25 yards away and not in front of the camera but stayed in her character and… Greg, our camera operator, kind of spotted her in his peripheral vision,” Mylod said. “It’s honestly one of my favorite moments in ‘Succession’ because that moment sums up everything we’re trying to do in terms of how we do the show.”

The cinematography of “Succession”

Cinematographers Christopher Norr and Patrick Capone have mastered the method of filming the series, in which the cameramen are almost members of the ensemble, shifting and anticipating the story as each scene unfolds and finding surprising and authentic moments of reaction. But too many instant zooms and too much off-angle coverage can spoil the broth, and they’ve talked about finding a balance and even a few heightened cinematic moments.

Regarding Episode 7’s epic party, Norr said that a deliberate visual change of pace was what hammered the end. “There is a lot of chaos in the party and Lorene [Scafaria], the brilliant director, we both decided to go to the movies now and be smooth, ”Norr said. “This stillness added [to the level of] drama and sadness. It was the only way to end.

Meanwhile, Capone was challenged to distort the lushness of the Italian countryside to match the characters in the season’s tumultuous final two episodes. “They would take me to these places and [Mark Mylod] Would say, “You know, we can’t make this look like a Merchant Ivory movie.” I said, “Well, then don’t take me to La Foce with all these nice hedges,” Capone said. “We found a way not to affect the light or the surroundings too much, but we could affect the location of the camera.” Where Capone and Norr have placed the camera often tells us everything we need to know about characters lined up with each other, characters who have power, and those who have been completely adrift.

The conception of the production of “Succession”

Decorator Stephen H. Carter has, at this point, defined the appearance of the incredible wealth that the Roys walk through with such gaiety. The world of “Succession” is nice but cool, filled not with the character’s personalities but with anonymous, harmless props probably chosen by an interior designer. In Season 3, however, Carter got the chance to expand the complexity of the sets and inject character into them, especially through Kendall’s 40th birthday showcase.

“Kendall’s birthday party is a great example of where we strayed a bit from the normal ‘Succession’ menu and had fun with the extent of Kendall’s megalomania and the extent of her lost grip.” Carter said. . That lost grip has taken up a whole host of on-site gallery spaces at The Shed event space in New York City, and four or five different rooms on the show’s soundstages in Queens.

Carter was guided, he said, considering how Kendall might ask her managers to plan the look and feel of the party. “[We treated] it’s like, you know, a team of party planners and artists from Bushwick, Brooklyn were hired to come in and decorate and work their magic, ”Carter said. Where Kendall would fit in, he would relate how he can’t escape the specter of his family. “The recreation of his office at Waystar Royco, but in this sort of hellish hell, I thought he couldn’t resist. You know, even though it’s supposed to be a birthday party, it always takes political turns.

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