Series Creators Delve Into "Ramy," "Stranger Things"; A Directorial POV On "The Plot Against America"
Ramy Youssef, creator, director, writer and EP of "Ramy" (photo courtesy of Hulu)
Cinematographers share insights into "I Know This Much is True" and "Yellowstone"; a production designer's perspective on "Hunters"

Ramy Youssef quipped that there’s not a lot of blame to go around if his Ramy series (Hulu) on occasion misses the mark. Youssef, who first gained widespread recognition as a comedian, observed tongue-in-cheek that during stereotypical editing sessions, shouting can at times be heard. “‘Who the fuck directed this and why the fuck did the actor do that?’ In my case,” he laughed, “I’m the actor and the director.”

Thankfully edit sessions go quite differently on Ramy as Youssef cited his close-knit working relationship with editor Joanna Naugle, lauding her level of “cool and temperament in the editing room.”  For that reason, Youssef said he’s grateful to have Naugle as a colleague helping to shape the “editing voice” of the show. “She knows the takes I like, the timing I like.” Youssef affirmed, “She understands the show and me.”

Assorted viewers and critics have also come to not only understand the show but enjoy it--for its comedy, drama, emotional resonance and relevance. Besides being its creator, writer, EP and lead actor, Youssef has stepped up his directorial involvement. 

He helmed one episode the first year, four this current Emmy-eligible season two.

Appreciation of the show is reflected in Youssef winning the Golden Globe Award this past January for best actor in a comedy series. Last year, Ramy won the Audience Award for episodic fare at the SXSW Film Festival and was nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Breakthrough Series.

Youssef portrays Ramy Hassan, a first-generation American Muslim who lives with his sister and Egyptian-immigrant parents in New Jersey. He’s a twentysomething trying to find his way, coping with family pressure, looking to better define his religious beliefs and somehow balancing his old-world-values heritage with the desire to effectively assimilate. There’s a touching comedy to the pain and awkwardness of everyday life, brought on by his mix of good intentions and at times misguided, conflicted, crazy behavior.

Still, the protagonist and his family are likable people we care about and can empathize with. In a climate where Muslims are at times marginalized if not demonized, Ramy could be viewed as showing the common humanity we all share as we grapple with life. However, Youssef falls short of referring to his series in such idyllic terms, observing that Ramy is “about opening up conversations with those willing to have those conversations. You need to come to meet the show and be open to what the show is asking of you. It takes a willing participant for the next conversation that we’re hoping to have as a show. I struggle with the notion that we’re breaking down barriers. People can choose their own reality as to what they watch,” he noted, adding that this isn’t an era with a limited number of channels/networks where “you’re going to get to know the Cosbys” no matter what. “We don’t live there anymore. People curate their programs to whatever point of view they have. We are nuancing conversations with communities who are going to engage with us.” Youssef doesn’t harbor hope that his show will open the eyes of those ingrained with negative feelings or who aren’t willing to abandon stereotypes. “I don’t have feelings of grandiosity in that sense.”

Ramy, though, continues to expand its horizons. For one, season two finds two-time Oscar winner (Moonlight, Green Book) Mahershala Ali joining the cast in a special guest role as a spiritual mentor to Hassan. Youssef said that Ali’s involvement naturally evolved. He recalled that Ali reached out to him to offer congratulations on the show. They struck up a rapport, hung out and then at one point Ali simply offered, “Let me know if you need anything.” Youssef then broached the idea of his coming aboard the series. Initial discussion centering on Ali appearing in one or two episodes grew as the character he was to portray, Sheikh Malik, started to get better defined. The character turned out to be a big part of the season story, translating into multiple episodes. Youssef said it wasn’t like the network was insisting on adding a big star but as it turns out Ramy got one.

Youssef too extended his directorial reach, helming multiple episodes. Like the casting of Ali, this naturally came to pass. Dating back to high school, Youssef shot his own work, bought cameras and began experimenting. He described himself as “that kid early on” who would get certified as a Final Cut editor. He loved making things interesting to him before diverting into performance as a working actor and stand-up comedian. But when it came to directing Ramy, Youssef said “all the instincts were there,” his having laid the groundwork for it growing up.

His affinity for diversifying and stretching creatively extends to offering that opportunity to others. For example, when season one cinematographer Adrian Peng Correia had to move on from Ramy to another commitment, Youssef decided that his successor would be Claudio Rietti, the series’ A-camera operator that first year. Youssef explained that he wanted “to keep it in the family,” seeing the value of “someone who understands the show, how we operate as a crew. We had that history from doing the first season together and he wound up doing an amazing job (as DP on season two).”

As for the creative challenges he encountered on season two, Youssef related, “Creatively you know you have to change things up (from season one). You also have to keep certain things that make the show what it is. It’s a really delicate balance of continuing to grow but, again, respecting the things that work about the show. We have an amazing core cast. Then we bring in an amazing two-time Oscar-winning actor. You need to figure out that recipe and balance. How would he fit into the fabric of what’s already strong?”

Season one was a blank slate, much of which was based from a writing standpoint on stand-up material Youssef had been doing for awhile. By contrast, he noted that season two was based on “where these characters had landed from season one. I really had fun putting more plot into season two. I’m excited about future possibilities, to get to grow these characters a bit more.”

Minkie Spiro
Working with David Simon, known for his creative vision behind such critically acclaimed shows as The Wire, has been a career highlight for director Minkie Spiro. Their first collaboration was a 2018 episode of The Deuce and now their return engagement, The Plot Against America (HBO), a limited series co-created by Simon and Ed Burns (his partner/compatriot on The Wire), has found a place in the Emmy conversation.

Making an awards season splash with a limited series is nothing new for Spiro who earlier this year earned her first career DGA Award nomination for the “All I Care About Is Love” episode of Fosse/Verdon. This time around, though, she has a hand in rewriting history with The Plot Against America.

Based on Philip Roth’s novel of the same title, The Plot Against America features an ensemble cast which includes Zoe Kazan, Morgan Spector, Winona Ryder, John Turturro, Anthony Boyle, Azhy Robertson and Caleb Malis. The show imagines an alternate U.S. history told through the eyes of the Levins, a working-class Jewish family in Newark, New Jersey, who witness the political rise of aviator hero Charles Lindbergh, a xenophobic populist who defeats Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election and turns the nation towards fascism.

Spiro said that Simon reached out to her based on their fruitful prior experience. She described their work on season two of The Deuce as “an incredibly rewarding collaboration.” She said Simon came to value her vision and interpretation of the material, how she connected with the cast and did justice to meaningful moments in their first go-around. Spiro noted that she and Simon found themselves simpatico, perhaps in part because they shared a similar background in reportage and journalism. She cited his “deep soul” and “deep grasp of human nature and all its inherent flaws.” Spiro particularly admires “his ability to capture the grimness of life but with a deftness of touch. There’s always an undercurrent of humor in his work at the right moment. When you create work that can make someone laugh and cry in the same breadth, I’m a happy lady.”

There’s also a complementary dimension to their work as Spiro said that Simon looks to her not just to glean performances from cast members but also to take on a lead role visually. Spiro said that Simon has leaned heavily on her in their collaborations to bring visual stimulation to the story--an important dynamic, particularly in the context of a family drama which on its face is “a very internal piece. Having begun my life as a photographer, I always need to find cinematic touchstones to keep me visually stimulated and to sustain the emotional impact of a story.”

Towards that end, Spiro worked closely with such artisans as cinematographer Martin Ahlgren and production designer Richard Hoover. The latter worked on the first three episodes of The Plot Against America, which were all directed by Spiro. (The last three installments were helmed by Thomas Schlamme.) Meanwhile Ahlgren shot the entire series. 

Among the fine production design touches was eliminating the color red from the show until the opportune time. Spiro explained that red is a color that so obviously signifies fascism that she didn’t want it to appear “until Rabbi Bengelsdorf (portrayed by Turturro) infiltrates or assimilates into Lindbergh’s camp.” Up until that point, there’s no red anywhere, which raised a bone of contention from the makeup department because red was a fashionable color, reflected in lipstick and the like, during that era. Yet while it wasn’t period correct, the absence of red brings a new dimension when it does emerge, heightening the fervor of a Madison Square Garden rally for Lindbergh.

While this marked her first time working with Hoover, Spiro had a track record with DP Ahlgren who shot a Hulu pilot for her a couple of years earlier. From that experience, Spiro knew she and Ahlgren shared an obsession with framing and composition. For The Plot Against America, a source of visual inspiration proved to be photojournalism from the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s, including the work of photographers Robert Frank, Helen Levitt and Margaret Bourke-White who often used wider lenses close to the action with greater depth of field. These framings offered levels of depth that allow viewers to look about and find different areas of interest. This deep focus became part of the look differentiating The Plot Against America from other shows. Holding the foreground and background in focus can lend a larger than life quality to intimate shots without having them lose their intimacy. 

Spiro said she and Ahlgren made a look book for the camera operators, going through composition, framing, lens sizes, depth of field “so that they could see what we were trying to achieve. Two weeks into the shoot at one of our lunch breaks, we refreshed our memories with that look book. It’s easy to get carried away with the day and the usual challenges we face, which can cause you to take your eye off the ball and forget what your intentions were. This was a useful exercise to refresh ourselves and remind us of our intentions.”

Spiro, who’s Jewish, needed no reminder of the importance of The Plot Against America. “This story felt very personal. My family is from Poland. My husband’s father is a Holocaust survivor,” related Spiro who noted that she continues “to gravitate to stories that resonate with me.” 

She added, “This story felt so right to be tackling now. It’s a story that is so meaningful in these current times.” 

With nationalism, demagoguery and hate crimes on the rise, The Plot Against America sadly becomes a relevant, cautionary tale today. “It’s a project that maybe gets people to stop and think a bit about where we’re at--and that maybe it’s time for change,” said Spiro. “It made me realize that I had a duty as a person who is making television. Your work has to entertain but if it can resonate and leave some sort of legacy, then you’ve done your bit trying to help things change for the better.”

This, she continued, helped to imbue the making of The Plot Against America with a sense of purpose. “Everyone cared about this project. Everyone came with their best game. It was a relentless, tough project. My job was inspiring people and never letting them feel crushed by the challenges.”

Spiro then shared what motivated her through all the challenges. “In generations to come, I want my kids and their kids to see what we did to help make a difference.”

Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer
Brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, creators and EPs of Stranger Things (Netflix), have between them six Emmy nominations for the show spanning the Best Drama Series, writing and directing categories. In its first two seasons, Stranger Things amassed a total of some 30 nominations and won six Emmys.

The Duffers hope to continue that Emmy tradition this year as the show continues to evolve, season three being one more akin to “a blockbuster movie” according to Matt Duffer. “Ross and I directed the first two and the last two episodes (of season three). We tried to up the ante in terms of visual effects, what we wanted to accomplish. This season was much more ambitious in scale than what we had done before--a much higher number of visual effects shots and crossing storylines climaxing at the same time. 

We particularly wanted the final two episodes of the season to feel like a big movie. Still, while we have a generous TV schedule, it’s not like a movie schedule. We had to deal with so many logistics, were writing up to the last minute. We had done more pre-vis than ever before. We worked closely with a stunt coordinator. It was a much more complex season than ever before in a lot of regards. And you don’t have the kind of prep time you do with a feature. In TV  it’s like the train is going and you’re laying track as its moving.”

Perhaps the biggest lesson learned from this experience, continued Matt Duffer, was that “you cannot be micromanaging the visual effects process” with so many elements and considerations unfolding simultaneously. “It’s like trying to micromanage an actor’s performance. You need to find a great actor and leave them alone. The same is true for visual effects artists. Get the right artists and leave them alone.”

The right artist in terms of overseeing this work was sr. visual effects supervisor Paul Graff, an eight-time Emmy nominee, including a win for Black Sails in 2014. His last nod came in 2018 for Stranger Things. Matt Duffer credited Graff with bringing in Rodeo FX studio to take on “the heavy lifting” in season three.

Among first-time collaborators that the Duffers brought into the Stranger Things fold were director Uta Briesewitz and DP Lachlan Milne. Briesewitz made her initial mark as a cinematographer; she scored an Emmy nomination for the pilot of Hung, a series for which she went on to direct several episodes. Matt Duffer said of Briesewitz, “She’s someone we’ve been wanting to work with for awhile.” He described her directorial turn on Westworld as “incredible...she crushed that episode. We had an amazing time collaborating with Uta (who helmed two Stranger Things episodes). She brought a new voice and a slightly different take on the material.”

Ross Duffer added, “She has a great personality, really respects the scripts, every line that’s in there. She wants to make sure she’s telling the story in the best way possible. She hits every beat you should want, is great with the actors. A minor character, Dr. Alexei (portrayed by Alec Utgoff) started to pop during her episodes. She has a great sense of comedy.”

As for Milne, Ross Duffer recalled that the DP came to their attention via a recommendation from director/writer/producer Taika Waititi (an Oscar winner this year for Best Adapted Screenplay for Jojo Rabbit). Milne had shot writer/director Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople, which Ross Duffer described as “a movie that’s told at such a high level but has a sense of fun and heart to it. Lachlan really brings just that to the set besides his skill as a DP. He brings an energy to the set.”

Milne’s lensing included this past season’s final two episodes that the Duffers directed. “We had three units running simultaneously and he (Milne) would bounce around from unit to unit to make sure we got it all there. He maintained a calm throughout.”

While not at liberty to discuss season four in detail, the Duffers promised that the show will take on a different tone as all of the prior seasons have. Seasons two and three were certainly in sharp contrast--the former being dark with a fairy tale-type ending while season three was marked by fun yet ended on what many regard as the series’ darkest note yet.

Jody Lee Lipes
For cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes, getting the chance to work with writer-director Derek Cianfrance drew him to I Know This Much is True (HBO), a limited series based on the 1998 novel of the same title by Wally Lamb. Cianfrance adapted Lamb’s book for TV and directed all six episodes.

The story follows the parallel lives of identical twin brothers, Dominick and Thomas Birdsey, portrayed by Mark Ruffalo. In episode one, paranoid schizophrenic Thomas has a violent public breakdown as Dominick finds himself then stepping up to defend his sibling in unexpected ways. The series brings us into a family saga which goes back in time, a continuum starting around 1913 and extending into 1991, revealing betrayal, selfless sacrifice and forgiveness. The cast also includes Melissa Leo, Kathryn Hahn, Juliette Lewis, Archie Panjabi, Imogen Poots and Rosie O’Donnell.

Lipes recalled Cianfrance reaching out to him one night via text in the wee hours of the morning. The two had worked together once on an Apple commercial, helmed by Cianfrance who’s handled in the ad arena by RadicalMedia. 

“Derek told me he was doing this show and wanted me to shoot it,” recalled Lipes who at the time was in the midst of lensing director Marielle Heller’s feature A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. “I couldn’t believe this was happening. I thought I was dreaming when I woke up that morning. I respect Derek so much. And when I found out Mark Ruffalo, one of my favorite actors, was involved, I felt lucky. I read the script and had one of those moments. This is my kind of story.”

Cianfrance, a lauded feature filmmaker (Blue Valentine, The Place Between the Pines) and DGA Award-winning commercials director, felt the same way about I Know This Much is True, having wanted “something of size and scope for TV for a long time,” explaining that he sought “more time and space than I’m allowed to have on a movie screen” for character insights, development and storytelling. “I didn’t want to do television where I was just going to direct one episode or be part of a writers’ room,” said Cianfrance.  “I wanted to do it just like I made my movies--in this case a six-hour movie with these one-hour arcs throughout.”

Once he committed to take on I Know This Much is True, Cianfrance immediately gravitated to Lipes. Cianfrance cited Lipes’ earlier lensing of the features Martha Marcy May Marlene, Afterschool, Trainwreck and Manchester by the Sea, as well as the TV series Girls. “I was really taken by the way he saw the world--and his connection with people,” said Cianfrance of Lipes. “He also shot a documentary about ballet that was really intimate.”

Cianfrance also remembered his collaborative experience with Lipes on the alluded to, stylized black-and-white Apple ad. “One of the gifts for me about making commercials is I get to work with so many different people,” noted Cianfrance who recalled that Apple spot introduced him to Lipes’ “big open heart, as big a heart to match his talent. When HBO greenlit this, he was the first guy I called. He became such a crucial partner to me.”

For Lipes, the two prime challenges posed to him by I Know This Much is True were the sheer marathon nature of the project, and the element of the twin brothers--bringing together Ruffalo’s separate performances of two distinctly different people, at times calling for the deployment of motion control to get them in the same scene. The Birdsey twins are 40 years old when we meet them. “They have 40 years of completely different life experiences and they look different,” related Cianfrance who quipped this couldn’t be pulled off with Ruffalo on camera in the morning and then coming back with a fake wig after lunch to portray his brother. Instead Ruffalo would portray Dominick and then go on hiatus to gain weight to later go on camera as Thomas, a chubby, deeply sensitive man who’s been institutionalized due to mental illness. The result is two markedly individual characters physically and emotionally, as construction worker Dominick is a man’s man. Yet he too is damaged, consumed by guilt, a highly combustible caretaker for his brother.

“I had never done motion control before,” related Lipes. “This was a very complex motion control job.” Lipes credited VFX supervisor Eric Pascarelli, who started his career as a motion control operator, with being instrumental in helping him to accelerate his learning curve.  At the same time, Lipes said it was key that he and Cianfrance “not be inhibited by the technology,,” always driven first and foremost by “how we would shoot this scene if two real twins were in it.”

Weather and lighting were also pivotal, continued Lipes. You couldn’t reasonably rely on the weather to be the same for shoots that were months apart. So lighting and environment were elements that Lipes obsessed over--with lighting helping to obscure any weather discrepancies.

As for the “marathon” dynamic, Lipes shot 114 days in a row, far and away his highest career tally--down the road there were also a pair of pickup days. “Our approach was simply one day at a time,” said Lipes so as to not get too overwhelmed.

Lipes deployed the Arricam LT 35mm film camera for I Know This Much is True. The choice to go the 35mm route evolved naturally given the story, which takes us from 1913 to 1991. Lipes explained that film is “really the only format that stands for and evokes that period. Even though this is a multi-generational story, there was a decision made early on that it should feel like one story. We shouldn’t be jumping into a different look for a different time period or characters. We needed one format that covered everything.”

Additionally, Lipes is well accustomed to shooting on film, which has accounted for the lion’s share of his long-form work. Cianfrance too is a custom fit for film, observed Lipes. “There’s something about Derek. His work feels very handmade. Film is the direct corresponding fimmaking tool I associate with that kind of taste and feel.”

Speaking of the overall feel, Lipes said the biggest takeaway from his experience on I Know This Much is True centered on working with Cianfrance and Ruffalo. 

“Derek is one of the most impressive filmmakers I’ve ever been around. He works so hard. And Mark shows how the lead actor can affect the tone of what it feels like on set--the way he is as a human being. He’s such a warm person, really wants to know everyone, wants to interact with everyone. That’s his fuel. He’s there longer than anybody, every single take. He’s the hardest working guy and one of the most talented actors alive. Watching him work that way and be that kind of person--and how that affected everyone--made me feel lucky to be on a film that had that kind of leadership, that kind of tone. It’s so rare.”

Christina Voros
Already an established cinematographer, Christina Voros put her hat in the ring to serve as a camera operator on Yellowstone (Paramount Network) which debuted in 2018. This put her on the series from its inception, operating for DP Ben Richardson, a longtime friend. Voros was drawn to the opportunity to collaborate with Richardson as well as Taylor Sheridan who teamed with John Linson to create Yellowstone. Voros admired Sheridan’s work, including his Oscar-nominated screenplay for Hell or High Water

After operating that first season and with Richardson moving onto another commitment, Voros settled into the DP role for Yellowstone’s second year. “It was a perfect fit,” she assessed, noting that she had seen and been in on the birth of every shot concocted by Richardson and Sheridan, helping her to maintain as well as add to the show’s visual continuity. 

Voros’ evolution on Yellowstone continued on season three, which saw her direct a pair of episodes while not lensing any. Her DP on the episodes she directed was Jim Denault. Come season four, plans call for Voros to direct and separately shoot select episodes of Yellowstone.

Currently under Emmy consideration is Voros’ cinematography on season two. Her camera of choice for the show has been the ARRI Alexa.

Kevin Costner stars in Yellowstone as the patriarch of the Dutton family, owners of the largest ranch in the U.S. From the start, we see the Duttons fight to defend their ranch and way of life in the late 1800s--butting heads with an Indian reservation, land developers and grappling with medical issues, political ambition, and carefully guarded secrets that put a strain on the family. The series also has Native American storylines, which makes it atypical in series television.

Voros observed that in Yellowstone “the environment is a character as much as any of the human characters. It’s a very enormous and capricious character. One of the greatest challenges I felt came from working within what the natural world was giving us on any given day or season. We split shooting between Utah and Montana, always trying to create a monolithic geography that feels you’re in the same place even though you are states apart. There are also the challenges of the weather, the lighting, often shooting during magic hour in the mornings and evenings. You have this really big personality to deal with where weather and geography make the rules.”

Yellowstone is also marked by action adventure. Voros shared, “We’re always looking for new ways to shoot action on horseback that feels active--a mixture of taking in the glory of it all but also capturing that visceral feeling of the moment.” 

The series also had Voros looking to innovate the flashback, which had become more critical to the storytelling in season two. She sought a departure from the flashback norm without making it feel “too on the nose or over the top. One of the beautiful things that Taylor does in his writing is trust the audience to figure things out. The same is true for flashbacks. You don’t have to go sepia to let people know. We went for a more subtle way of giving those scenes a flavor without taking you out of the story.”

Voros said that Yellowstone is “a glorious place to be a DP” in that Sheridan views a season as “shooting a 10-hour movie.” Even with the stresses of time and budget, Voros noted it’s uplifting “to create something that feels deserving of being screened in cinema. The show’s creator wants you to go and seek that out. Taylor is so supportive of the DP’s job in terms of giving you what you need to maintain that gold standard.”

Curt Beech
Curt Beech’s body of work includes four films nominated for Best Picture Oscars, having served as art director on director David Fincher’s The Social Network, Tate Taylor’s The Help and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, and production designer on Spike Lee’s BlackKkKlansman. For the former three, Beech earned Art Directors Guild Excellence In Production Design Award nominations.

However, Beech’s accomplishments are not limited to the feature film arena. He’s been active in television as well, most notably his recent turn as production designer on Hunters (Amazon Prime), which now has him in the Emmy Awards season banter. Hunters introduces us to Jonah (portrayed by Logan Lerman) who gets drawn into a shadowy band of Nazi hunters when his grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, is murdered. His benefactor and leader of this group is Meyer (Al Pacino), a wealthy businessman who also survived the Holocaust.  Meyer’s home serves as headquarters for the Nazi hunters. Meyer’s grandmother, Ruth (Jeannie Berlin), has adopted Jonah. These and other interwoven characters are integral to a story that spans the late 1930s and then the ‘40s during the Nazi regime, as well as the 1970s’ in the gritty mean streets of New York. In this latter time, it’s discovered that a band of escaped Nazis living in the U.S. have a new genocidal plot that the hunters must thwart.

Doing justice to these different time periods  was challenging. Color played a part in contrasting the eras. Beech’s research found that during World War II, rationing was rampant--including rationing of color in terms of what pigments could be used. In fact there was a government-issued swatch book with a seriously limited palette. This translated into flashback sequences for Hunters being somewhat subdued, tonal and minimalist with browns and greens more prevalent.

At the same time, Beech helped formulate an overall color theory for the show--red, for example, signifying blood but not just Nazi red. Other characters too have blood on their hands. Yellow depicted innocence. Blue was justice. Green represented hiding as well as militancy. Gold was hubris. 

This color scheme was reflected, for instance, in wallpaper and the color revealed when that paper starts peeling. As a Nazi hunter, Ruth for example has burgundy wallpaper with bits of red. But underneath that paper is yellow, the color of innocence.

New York in the ‘70s also presented a challenge for Beech who noted that “there wasn’t a lot to be happy about” during that time. “The city was bankrupt, crime was high. If you got on certain trains, chances were that you’d get mugged. And Jonah’s Brooklyn is nothing like the Brooklyn that exists now,” related Beech whose work had to show and reflect a sense of damage. On the street in front of Jonah’s house, for example, there’s a bombed-out car--not an unusual sight for the time. “We used the damaged vehicles as a visual cue to not only show a damaged city but that the characters are damaged as well--they are either carrying damage, bringing damage or creating damage in some form.”

Damage is a theme, of course, that characterizes both eras depicted in Hunters. In the ‘70s, for example, stark graffiti was seemingly everywhere. The damaged environment/backdrop created by Beech served as sort of a visual metaphor for the emotional damage caused by the war as well as in more contemporary times.

While the degree of difficulty was high in Hunters, Beech said his experience on the series reaffirmed his belief that “everyone does their best when the work is hardest. The art department was working on all cylinders. People reached outside their comfort zone. The project was harder than so many but that’s what made it fun and gratifying.”

Editor’s note: This is the fifth installment in SHOOT’s 16-part weekly series of The Road To Emmy feature stories. The features explore the field of Emmy contenders, and then nominees spanning such disciplines as directing, writing, producing, showrunning, cinematography, editing, production design, music, sound and visual effects. The Road To Emmy series will then be followed by coverage of the Creative Arts Emmy winners on September 12 and 13, and the Primetime Emmy Awards on September 20.

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