Phil Lord and Christopher Miller know how to turn almost anything into a good time.
Over the course of a 20-year career, Lord and Miller, who first met at Dartmouth College, have demonstrated a unique knack for finding funny, clever stories in a few unlikely places. out most.
The creative tagging team – who frequently swap writers, directors and producers’ hats – came up with hard plastic bricks incredible makeover in the “The Lego Movie” franchise. They helped turn lesser known comic book character Miles Morales into an Oscar winner with “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” They found laughter in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, with the Fox sitcom “The Last Man on Earth,” and in a serious ’80s TV series, with the movies ” 21 Jump Street”. They also produced Oscar nominees for Netflix’s animated series, “The Mitchells versus The Machines,” This turns a terrifying technological singularity into a heartwarming family adventure.
Now, they’re kicking the murder charge with their new series, “The Afterparty,” whose first three episodes premiere Friday on Apple TV+ (the remaining five will air weekly).
When Miller came up with the murder mystery idea in 2010, he envisioned it as a feature film, inspired by classics like “Rashomon” and “Clue.” In 2019, he modified the story to fit the episodic television format, and he served as the showman and director of all episodes while executive producing Lord. The finished product is a whodunit built like a Matryoshka doll, with a variety of cinematic genres hidden within a great mystery.
With a main cast that includes Ike Barinholtz, Ilana Glazer, Sam Richardson, and Ben Schwartz, the film revolves around a high school reunion that ends in death. Tiffany Haddish plays a Columbo-style police detective who is searching a crime scene.
“We are all stars in our own movies,” the detective told the suspects, and the series sheds some light on the matter. Nearly every episode revolves around a different partygoer’s narration of the events of the night and is presented in a style that reflects that character’s personality: a romantic comedy for former Richardson’s heartbroken student, who is pursuing an ex; a ridiculous action movie for the calculated ex of Barinholtz; a psychological thriller for Glazer’s paranoid valedictorian who has fallen in love.
Lord and Miller recently talked about “The Afterparty” in a joint video interview from their respective homes in Los Angeles, where they are preparing for “Spider-Man: Across the Universe (Part One)” ” for its October release, as well as writing and animating the reboot of their newly launched animated series “Clone High” for HBO Max. The pair discussed switching gears, working out the details and getting a second chance to make a good impression. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
You joined this live-action project right after finishing an animated movie, “Into the Spider-Verse.” Do you approach the two media differently?
PHIL GOD The bottom line is that we don’t really see them differently; We treat everything the same. I don’t know if our sense of humor in our teens is enough to appeal to kids, but in any case, we’re trying to do something we’ve never seen before. this. We always try to experiment. Maybe that’s why we Ping-Pong back and forth.
CHRISTOPHER MILLER We’re always trying to tell a story and find ways to make it fresh and add something to the conversation. We follow that story to where it wants to be at its best.
In an animated episode, there is a short clip about Easter eggs. Should viewers be looking for those throughout?
MILLER This is a crazy thing because we are crazy people. Because it’s a murder mystery puzzle, we thought it would be really fun to add some hidden Easter egg-style clues, codes and codes for everyone to solve, as a bonus. You don’t have to freeze frames and solve these to find whodunit; That’s all there is to the story. Most of all, though, for the nerds, there are lots of little details in the costumes, signage, and other hidden messages that, if you can decipher them, will give you a hint as to who did it or not. do not do it. Running a show where each episode is its own miniseries, each shot with different lights, lenses, costumes, and music is a huge production challenge. We thought, “Why not add a than production challenge on top its? ”
LORD It’s like making something custom. I’ve always enjoyed receiving a gift from filmmakers, something material that is attention-grabbing to that extent, as opposed to something that feels clean and manufactured. The trick to this thing is that it’s mass entertainment, but you never want it to feel mass-produced.
Do you go back and take notes on movies of all different genres?
MILLER Sure. There are many different subcategories within these categories. Like, there are so many different genres of action movies. So there were a lot of conversations like, “Will this be ‘Fast & Furious’ or ‘John Wick’ or a classic action movie ‘Die Hard’?” We never want to turn anything into a parody or fake. We’re big movie lovers and it’s all done with love and admiration for how others have found interesting ways to tell stories. We’re stealing all of their best ideas and putting them all into one thing. We wanted to use the storytelling conventions of those genres to allow us a window into the inner lives of these characters.
What style will you use to tell your personal stories?
MILLER One of those rambling, improvisational comedies that don’t have much of a plot because that’s what I think our everyday lives are.
LORD Caucasian male ennui – like, “Oh, we all just rented a house in Ojai and we’re going to train to raise cows when we grow up.”
What was it like creating and filming during the pandemic?
LORD We created the summer bubble in 2020. We both rent space in Malibu, so we’ll walk down to the beach and have production meetings.
MILLER But the execution of the program, obviously, is direct. We shoot from October 2020 to February 2021. I think the chemistry on the show is due to a lot of people just staying in their homes. They appear on set and are happy to be around other human beings. So the mood on set was like nothing we’d ever done before.
That’s not surprising: Most of the cast would have been considered “exclamation points” in their previous projects.
MILLER It’s basically a show with dozens of exclamation points! You get all the funniest people you know in a room and that makes for an enjoyable experience. So many of the actors are hyphenated – creator, writer, director, presenter. They’re all approaching this from the point of view of someone who also made it. So they were able to hold this complication in their heads. You’re asking them to come in and not just play one character, but play eight different versions of a character. That is a very complicated question.
LORD They are also insulting. No one there is trying to stay out of trouble, or to play it safe, or to avoid looking stupid. They were all there trying to figure out, “What can be contributed to this moment?”
Have you attended any of your own high school reunions?
LORD I’ve been to a lot of. The first hour’s conversation is always like, “I’m miserable!” “Yes! I hate it here!” “Let’s go!” Then, in the end, you just need to be around some of the people you grew up with and remember why you were this close for so long, and it’s a very warm feeling. Frustration and shame. At my age of 25 they gave the certificate and I got “Most Improved”. It’s great for a second to feel loved by everyone. And then I immediately knocked over the entire drinking table. I leaned on it when I felt confident, then it collapsed under my weight, and I felt embarrassed again. In a reunion, you experience all the emotions of high school in a span of four hours. It’s like “High School: The Ride.”
MILLER I missed one or two. It was a complicated experience. You come to these things and you are mixed up with so many conflicting emotions – there are good memories and painful memories; you’re going back to old motivations and you want to feel like you’ve overcome some of them. For many people, what high school reunions are, they’re showing the version of themselves they want their old classmates to see.
The real content of the show is to try to get people to take some time to see the world through other people’s eyes. In doing that, you may find that people are more surprised and more complicated than you think.
Working together since college, how do you think each other has changed? Is your work dynamic different from what it used to be?
MILLER It’s not like one is “this person” and the other is “that person”.
LORD Satisfied both “The mess.” Chris to be “A messy guy” until he met me.
MILLER He’s right. I’m Felix’s Oscar for Phil, but I’d be the Oscar for anyone else. But we were both very involved in every step of the creative process. In our early days, we looked over shoulder to each other trying to write scenes in the same room, and it was really hard. These days, we talk about what our goals are, then we go our separate ways and have some space to try things, fail, figure it out and then send them out to each other. It only appeared on the screen if we both felt as if we had something.
LORD Now, I think we were more curious about what the other would bring to it, knowing that the end product would turn out to be something neither of us could have done on our own. It’s fun to collaborate because you don’t know where it’s going. That used to feel scary, and now it feels really fun.
MILLER And the key to that is having a lot of trust and admiration. It’s like a marriage.
LORD Like a marriage, without some fun parts.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/arts/television/afterparty-apple-tv-phil-lord-christopher-miller.html ‘The Afterparty’ is a genre wrapped up in a mystical manga