Falling Water

Falling Water makes four Gale Anne Hurd shows on the air. She’s got AMC’s The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, Syfy’s Hunters, and now this new show premiering on USA. Falling Water is from creator Blake Masters and his late partner Henry Brommell. Masters had to leave immediately after the Falling Water panel for the Television Critics Association to finish editing, so Hurd stayed back to complete more interviews.

Lizzie Brochere, David Ajala, and Will Yun Lee star in Falling Water. Tess (Brochere) has dreams about a child she apparently does not have in real life, until Bill Boerg (Zak Orth) offers her some concrete information… at a price. Burton (Ajala) is in love with a woman from his dreams, and Taka (Yun Lee) may be able to connect with his comatose mother via dreams. The three dreamers inevitably cross paths in this world where dreams impact waking life. 

Is Falling Water any more intense of a post than other shows?

It’s pretty standard but the difference is with [Masters], in addition to co-creating the show and co-writing the pilot with Henry, since Henry passed away, he’s been the showrunner. In addition to that, he directs some of the second unit sequences and he’s directing our final episode. So he literally has to be in two places at once because we shoot in New York.

Since we lost Henry, how do you keep Henry’s spirit in the subsequent episodes he didn’t have a chance to work on?

We had a meeting with Henry two weeks before he passed away, our second meeting. We actually had a meeting scheduled for the day after he passed away. It was very tough on us, most especially Blake and Henry’s family. So we put the show on the shelf. However, during that time, he went back and had an opportunity to think about all the things that he and Henry discussed while they were formulating the project. He’s managed to keep all those threads alive, but all these characters, it really was always about these characters and the journey and the world. There’s a very, very vibrant mythology that he and Henry co-created back then.

You spoke about Juan Carlos Fresnadillo directing the pilot and creating the template for the dreams. It really captures the surreality of dreams I have that are just off enough. Like you’re in a public place that should be crowded and no one’s there. Were there earlier concepts that might have been bigger or more visual effects before Juan Carlos came in?

Juan Carlos joined so early on. Juan Carlos was involved before we even pitched this. So he created a look book and visual references from the very, very start. Because he was so much a part of the creation of the pilot, we hadn’t really explored anything else. Look, we still shoot The Walking Dead on film. There’s CGI but not a ton of it. It’s used to enhance and that’s very much the way that Juan Carlos looks at this. It’s always better if you can do it real. It’s better for the actors. The post time on TV series is not significant. There’s a time and place for it, like on The Walking Dead, Shiva the tiger is entirely CG. But we had a long time to create that. We started shooting in May. It doesn’t start airing until October so there was plenty of time.

Is that still less time than Life of Pi had, though?

Yes, but luckily we’re working with Rhythm and Hues so they’ve spent a lot of time creating tigers. They did Life of Pi.

So Shiva benefits from Richard Parker?

Yes.

Do empty spaces remain a big part of the dreams in Falling Water?

Very much so but at the same time, I think one of the compelling things is that because these characters can enter other people’s dreams, they’re not always by themselves. They can interact with other characters who are dreaming.

I feel like the dialogue in the dreams is dreamlike too. Was that designed that people speak with a different rhythm in dreams?

That was there from the very beginning. Perhaps the way that it’s communicated, the fact that we have various frame rates in dreams and that they can change is something that Juan Carlos brought to the series. The dream world can have different frame rates if you saw the first two episodes. There are times that it’s very dreamlike and there are times when things can be very, very fast. So we do have a different visual language for dreams. That’s why they look different and the rules are different.

What frame rates did they use for dreams?

We’ve had 48 [frames per second]. We’ve had a lot of 48 frame rate.

Is the set dreamlike for shooting these sequences?

As you point out, they’re very empty and we will see things that you would not normally see in the real world. Objects and set dressing that you wouldn’t associate with particular spaces. Characters will show up and disappear, just like in our dreams. But we do shoot most of them, rather than in sets, in actual locations.

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