AHS: Freak Show Is Doing Things Differently In More Ways Than You Think
The fourth season of American Horror Story is definitely very different from its three preceding seasons and Ryan Murphy, the show’s creator has answered relevant questions about season to Entertainment Weekly which we are featuring here today. To start from the most observable distinction, Murphy spoke about the animated opening credits, combined with the alluring musing that we all love so much. He says, “Well I think the whole thing about this season is we wanted to do something that was more challenging in every way this season. I felt that way. So this is the first season we’ve done an all-animated title sequence, which is really difficult and takes a long time. We also kept the same theme song but redid it. I love them. There’s a lot of startling imagery in them. There’s a lot of clues. A lot of goodies in them for the fans like things that are going to be happening. Like when you watch the Coven titles and you watch all 13 episodes of Coven, you’re like “That makes sense.”” Since we are talking about the makings of this season, we might as well dig into the camera works. Murphy mentioned, “If you watch this season as compared to last season, the camera barely moves this season. It’s a much more still cinematic exploration, which means our brilliant director of photography, Michael Goi, had a lot longer time to light. Everything had to be much more spot on because you don’t move the camera. But I really wanted it to be wider frames, bigger frames, stiller frames. And I really put much more of an emphasis this season on the production design and the costumes than ever before because it has that sort of Douglas Sirk ‘50s thing to it.”
What more is different this season? The presentation! If you noticed, the first three seasons had very little to do with colors. There was mostly the use of dull and gloomy colors and that went pretty well with the concepts. But this season had a whole opposite scenario. There are too many colorful scenes and mostly the use of the color red is undeniable. Murphy says, “Well I think we were paying homage to The Greatest Show on Earth, that great movie. But more than that, I think people when they think of the freak world and the world of carny, it’s a lot of black and white images. That’s how I knew them. I sort of wanted to bring them to life. So with the production design and set design we made a very distinctive choice of let’s do the brightest colors known to man and let’s let everything soak in Lipton iced tea for a week. There’s a faded melancholy feeling to it. You can see that the colors are beginning to dim—that was by design because it’s the end of an era.”
One of my favorite parts on the show is Sarah Paulson. She definitely has one of the most complicated characters on the show and we have way too many questions about how the shots including her are shot. Murphy answers by saying, “It’s hard. On average, if you have a two-person scene maybe it will take five hours. If Sarah Paulson’s character is in it, it’s around 12-20. Sarah has to do everything four times. We had a fake Dot made for her based on her own head. She pre-records most of her dialogue. So she’s wearing an invisible earwig when she’s doing scenes with herself. It’s incredibly grueling and very draining on Sarah but she really went for it. I think the results are really quite amazing. One of the things is most conjoined twins on film are depicted with two actors that are connected at the chest. That’s certainly something we thought about doing. But for Sarah, I wanted to challenge her and we thought it would be great to do the two-heads/one body.”
The season is also going down the sexual road, much more as compared to the former season. Murphy agrees and says, “Yes. It was a conscious choice only because we’re really following the research. I mean the people who were in these carnivals loved to party to be quite blunt. They were very free with their sexuality. Within the protective world of their family, they felt very uninhibited. They actually liked and appreciated their differences. There’s a reason for where that phrase comes from, “Get your freak on.” I love juxtaposing the freethinking, non-judgmental carnie folks with the Mamie Eisenhower housewives. The carny folk got it right in many ways. It is sexier this year and more graphic sexually than any of the seasons.”
And my burning question is about the one and only Neil Patrick Harris. Will he be joining the show as we had previously heard? Or were those only rumors? Well, for now things don’t look too bad as Murphy states, “I spoke to Neil last week. He sort of had an idea of what he wanted to do, and I had an idea that he liked. So I’m going to call him next week. If I can make it work, it will be something that shoots at the end. He’s very interested in the show and obviously Neil is a magician and likes all that magic stuff. So he’s fascinated with that. We’re trying to make it work. I’m optimistic.”Click here for reuse options!
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