Severance's Practical Hallways Were Made Possible By A Star Trek 'Trick' [Comic-Con]

"Severance" has some of the most memorable production design of any show this year, with the twisting corridors of the Lumon Industries building coming to life via a practical set. It's a place where Mark S. (Adam Scott) and his colleagues in the Macrodata Refinement department inhabit an antiseptic, brightly lit office where they are sometimes locked in, to keep them from wandering the halls and poking around in other departments.

In a Comic-Con panel moderated by Patton Oswalt, members of the "Severance" cast and crew, including Scott, fellow actors Britt Lower, Tramell Tillman, Jen Tullock, and Dichen Lachman, creator Dan Erickson, and director Ben Stiller, gathered to discuss the show's first season, including the logistics of bringing Lumon Industries to life. /Film was in attendance at the panel, where Stiller said:

"The cool thing was, we built on stage in the South Bronx in New York. We built the entire 'Severance' floor, and it took up the entire stage, and all of the hallways connect to each other. But we also always wanted it to feel a little bit confusing, so a lot of the time, we'll do the whole 'Star Trek' trick where they have one hallway and just shoot it different ways or change one door or something on it. So, we would do that a lot. But the fact that we were able to do these long walks through the hallways ... I know some people say, wow, that's a lot of hallways in that show. That, to me, was part of the fun of it. You could just completely get lost in the halls on the set."

Hallways of the mind

Ben Stiller mentioned employing "the 'Star Trek' trick" while shooting "Severance," and this isn't the first time a member of the show's production team has referenced classic sci-fi or likened Lumon Industries to a spaceship. As he alludes and as TV Guide further notes, "Star Trek: The Next Generation" had a single hallway set, which it recycled again and again for different shots by tweaking the set dressing and filming it from different angles. This gave the starship Enterprise the illusion of more depth. More recent "Star Trek" shows like "Discovery" have had bigger sets to work with, but even the interior of the USS Discovery winds up being redecorated and doubling for other ships.

With "Severance," having the halls look similar actually goes along with the story and the sterile, homogeneous atmosphere of Lumon Industries as a whole. One corridor inside the building feels the same as another, and they stretch on endlessly while at the same time suffocating Mark S. and his co-workers, keeping the "Innie" part of their minds turning corners but going nowhere, like rats lost in a maze.

"Severance" is streaming on Apple TV+.