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'Successor' directors Cathy Yan and Lorraine Scafaria say the show is 'all about trust'

Cathy Yan and Lorene Scafaria both had excellent directing careers, so got the chance to direct an episode Succession offers new opportunities for everyone. Scafaria, best known for her 250 crime drama liar , has worked in TV, directed three episodes of Fox comedy New Girls , but she saw Successor as a dream job, largely because it’s one of her all-time favorite shows. Yan, directed 250 Superhero Movies Birds of Prey , has never directed a TV show, but she also considers herself a big fan of Jesse Armstrong’s HBO series.

Yan directed “The Disruption,” the third episode of the Emmy-nominated third season, which cast the cast in near seclusion for the first two hours The larger world is reintroduced. After the second season finale. Scafaria is in charge of the seventh episode, “Too Much Birthday,” which revolves around Succession troubled protagonist Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong).

The duo was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding directing of a series (together with another successor ) helmer, Mark Mylod), unraveling their initial relationship with the show, what they got from the Succession script, and how they navigated each shoot A uniquely intricate time in the most nominated series of the year.

Are you both fans of succession ? how did you Like the director of this series?

CATHY YAN Before I got into the film industry, I was actually a journalist and I worked for News Corp [under Rupert Murdoch]. So, this is just the work I’ve been wanting to see. And then when I finally sat down and had time, I really remember going from season one to season two, just to catch up with myself because I heard a lot of good things. It’s a real treat to watch continuously. You are so invested in these characters. Even all those little things that happened in season one will pay off in season two. I also live in New York. This is a very funny, ironic work. Its accuracy, and these people’s obsession with power and fear of losing it…I think it’s something I’ve witnessed firsthand.

LORENE SCAFARIA This is crazy, you are a first journalists. I can totally see how you were drawn to this material, and your previous work, how it led to this. I’m just a big fan of this show. I did watch it from the start because I was friendly with [executive producer] Adam McKay. Apparently the pilot blew me away. I remember that moment — there was a scene where Tom [Matthew McFadden] and Greg [Nicholas Braun] met on the baseball field. It’s the first time I’ve said, “I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know who these people are — they’re familiar and mysterious.” It’s just incredible writing and acting, just a very powerful show Performance, a very unique tone. I said hello and said, “Will I be a part of this please?” Right after I finished Hustlers. I know I’ll be stuck at home for years writing my next post.

You mentioned how the show often sows things early and then pays off very late. How do you navigate knowing that what you’re making is part of a bigger puzzle?

YAN It’s funny because I think in my episode, Tom did give himself to [Bryan Cox’s Logan Roy as a sacrifice]. I don’t know what will happen in the end. I don’t think anyone would, right? Really only the writers know what this season’s big move is. As a feature film director, when you’ve just written that script to death and you know exactly how it’s going to end…At first, the thought of “how do I play this song?” is scary. But then there was something very liberating, “Oh, I’m just playing this little role, and Jesse is actually the master.” But I think it’s pretty liberating, both from a director’s perspective and as an actor. Because this is real life, right? You don’t know what you’re going to do for even five minutes a week.

SCAFARIA It’s all about trust, in such a With West at the helm, it’s obviously gotten a lot easier. TV directors are so weird. For me, there is a lot to learn about when to chime in and when not to chime in. I found myself poring over the details and they were like, “The writers will handle this.” I was like, “I don’t have to write a deal memo? That’s a relief.” I knew I asked to read as many scripts as possible because they will give me. I don’t know how I’d be such a guest director if I wasn’t a huge fan of the show, because I find myself trying to track everyone down for the past two seasons.

Both of your episodes have these very emotional, complex scenes: for example, Kendall is humiliated by Shiv Then walk down the studio lobby. How do you use your skills to interpret something in the script while remaining consistent with the visual language of the show?

YAN I think that’s what’s great about these scripts, because while they’re dynamic, it does leave a lot of room for what is essentially explanation and instruction. So I think that moment made sense because he had to go from one place to another. The stay felt appropriate. A lot of times, I think directing is a bit like jazz: you just want to mix it up. You don’t want it to be all the same beat, you want to slow it down and then speed it up. I was so excited to read my script because I thought, “Yeah, I can do something with it.” It’s fun, but it’s definitely like this: nothing can be too pretty. Because it’s beautiful, but the characters don’t care about it. So sometimes I realize “this is a really beautiful shot” and the writers say, “So beautiful! So beautiful!”

Brian Cox in “Subversion,” directed by Cathy Yan. 2021 PROVIDED BY MACALL POLAY/HBO

SCAFARIA That moment in the hallway was so nice. It was a great choice, a brave one. I think when When you watch the show, you can actually can really see the imprint of different directors, and I think Jesse embraces different people with different perspectives. The episodes are spoiled, and when I got the script, things that were probably not covered on the page made it feel like a great theater. As a director, you can dig into the text and really try to break it down. We All fortunate to be working with the talented DP Christopher Norr, who has starred in this ballet with all the cast. And Cathy, we all write…

YAN I totally write like a director, though. I use in my head Shot writing. But from this point of view, [Succession] is very small.

SCAFARIA yes it’s not like on the page where you’re reading very specific directions. But it’s reminiscent of an image. I Not sure if it made me a better writer – I think it did, just to get into other people’s writing and try to go, “Oh, why am I seeing what I see? ”


Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook and Kieran Culkin in In “Too Many Birthdays” directed by Lorraine Scafaria. PROVIDED BY MACALL POLAY/HBO

What was the most intimidating aspect of your episodes?

SCAFARIA I was really nervous about the party itself because I kept saying it felt like Burning Man, All these episodes, they’re going to build for this one thing. It’s very different from other Succession episodes that can happen in beautiful, rich Place. I was very nervous about making the shark jumping episode of Succession . The set that Stephen Carter built was phenomenal and extraordinary. I talked a lot with Chris about The lighting thing. I was inspired by [Kanye West]’s The Life of Pablo tour. Making the party scene feel like a party was a challenge in itself.

YAN It was funny because a lot happened at that party. I Even wanted to shoot a third episode, a lot, like, “Kendall’s birthday party, Kendall’s birthday party! “I thought, ‘I want to go to Kendall’s birthday party. “I didn’t get to read the script, but I remember thinking, ‘Oh man, this sounds good. “But I can understand why it’s so hard because it’s all in one space and you have to really create these different environments. I think in a weird way, my challenge might be the opposite of that, which is that I have a lot of locations Trying to do it with COVID – honestly I hate location scouting because you’re just in a van 80 Percentage time. It’s about trying to find the right balance and the right dynamics to build the ending that feels so operatic and dramatic.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter Magazine’s August issue.



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