Mr Robot - Elliot

It is interesting that the c-word can go unbleeped but the f-word can’t.

Yes. I did Prison Break and the fact that we’d get these crazy notes about different things we were allowed, but we had a main character named T-Bag who never was flagged, was a learning lesson. Just keep pushing. You don’t know what these groups that tell you what to do are going to be sensitive to or not. We just try to do what we think is right for the show and try to push as much as we can until we either win a fight or lose a fight.

You would have seen that signature low angle shot with the character framed in the corner on the pilot. Were there any conversations about framing the show that way?

No. One of the things that we really fought for was to get the money, the time and to shoot in New York. What happens when you pick up a pilot, you have a script and we knew not only Sam’s work but we knew Neils Oplev, who directed the pilot who had done the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which we were all really fans of. When they present, they start presenting, even when they want to come in and be the director, they will do storyboards, mood boards and you’ll start seeing the references that we pull from other movies. I think that there was a visual style that was percolating that we all got on board with from not only the design boards but then we do what’s called a design presentation for the network where we say that this is what we want.

Both on Mr. Robot and Falling Water, there’s a desire to have a really strong cinematic auteur vision because it’s a visual medium. This is not a novel. This is not a book. It’s not a news show. We want to wow people as much with the words and the story as the art form.

Did Sam wanting to direct every episode this season give you any pause just as far as you also need him to run the show?

It gave us a challenge. How are we going to schedule this so that actually Sam could physically do this and not collapse on us? So we gave him breaks but I think we learned really early on that Sam delivers what he says he can deliver. He’s just a maverick and an auteur. He has not disappointed us on any step of the way. I think had we had bumps in the road in season one, we wouldn’t have been able to get to this decision, but there was such a trust built in season one, the attitude was more: if anybody can do it, Sam can. So how do we, as professionals of a giant corporation, put things in place in case things go wrong or he needs [them]?

I think there were gaps in there that were planned but that was going so well, in that gap that he was supposed to rest, he did the VR experience. Now he’s editing which is why he’s not here. Instead of editing on the way, we did sort of an old school way like a feature. He’s editing now. But Sam has such a vision and control of knowing what he wants to do, he would’ve been on set any day anyway. He’s not a guy who’s with the writers in the room all the time. Season one, if he wasn’t directing, he was there. So the physical time that he needed to do is sort of the same. I’m not saying we would do that with anyone but for sure, I think everybody wanted to try to make this work. We wrapped. It worked.

Shooter - Pilot - Ryan Philippe

You have great roles for women on all the USA shows. Are you looking to increase the number of female showrunners or directors of episodes and pilots?

Absolutely. I mean, I am a woman. I’m not a believer in the argument of, “We definitely have that agenda but we’re just trying to find the best.” I believe that there are great female directors out there. Season one [of Mr. Robot] had three. There were only nine episodes. Sam was going to do a few of them and three of the other directors were female. There’s no female directors [this year] because Sam did them all, but that is an agenda on all of our shows, to make sure we’re seeing all the best that’s out there and giving them the platforms they deserve in every department. Not just directing or writing. There’s great writers on this show that are female too but a lot of our department heads on Mr. Robot are female. Look at the production designer on Mr. Robot [Anastasia White] which is one of the best designed shows on television.

I’m looking forward to seeing Shooter and I’m okay waiting for it to air out of sensitivity. What was the decision to make that delay and if more unfortunate things happen, will you eventually have to air it regardless?

It was a terrible thing that happened in Dallas. I think that there was just a sympathy and an empathy, not only for the victims but for what the world was feeling, what we were feeling. We’re individuals. We get affected and I think that we just wanted to take a pause at that particular moment and look at it, be the most sensitive that we could be, even though we had spent all this money already putting billboards up.

We love the show. It was about a war hero who is wrongly accused. It really deserves to be on television. Right now, there’s a meeting about exact dates but for us, the sooner we can get it on the air the better. Who knows what’s going to happen in the world? But I think we’re always going to be sensitive to what’s happening in the world. It’s getting on the air because it is good and it’s a veteran story that really deserves to be told. We look at everything today trying to be sensitive for ourselves. So everything is through that lens. There was stuff that happened last year on Mr. Robot where pulled an episode [for a week]. We’re trying to be human beings while we do our job.

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