We are really in the golden age of television.
That summer it felt like everyone was spending their Sunday evenings working out the clues for a small town crime thriller and practicing their Philadelphia accent. Mare from Easttown brought us all together and kept us on the edge of our seats.
The American Crime drama limited series was created by Brad Ingelsby and premiered on HBO. It played Kate Winslet as the title mare and the included ensemble cast Jean Smart, Guy Pearce, Julianne Nicholson, Angourie rice, David Denman, Evan Peters, Sosie bacon, and John Douglas Thompson. All seven episodes were staged from to perfection Craig Sable.
When we write columns like this, we usually deal with films, but as the line between film and television continues to blur, I think the time has come to expand this series to include television as well. There is so much that any storyteller will like from an interesting show mare.
What are some of the best lessons you can learn from the show?
8 great lessons on filmmaking from Mare from Easttown
1. Captivating characters
Perhaps the most talked about aspect of the show was how many different and interesting characters it brought to the fore.
Of course, Mare herself was deep and shapely. We saw the trauma she suffered and the pain too. But her mother, daughter, ex-husband, and even daughter-in-law all had their own stories. So did her friends and even the supporting characters. Each person could have been the star of their own show and that made them all feel whole and also what attracted real stars to round out the cast.
How can you focus your character creation? Make sure the people you come with are the stars of their own story threads.
2. Immersive Community
One of the things I appreciated as a suburban Philadelphia resident at No Film School was how much the show presented the community in the Philadelphia suburbs. Easttown may be a fictional place, but it’s in the very real-life location of Delaware County.
The show’s creator, Brad Ingelsby, is a local who wanted to tell a story about his home. He did that and showed the best and worst parts. Contextualize the public’s struggle with the opioid epidemic and also the persistence of people in it.
What do you know about your area? Where are the familiar places that you can bring to life?
3. Plot twists
You can’t have a detective series with no plot twists and turns. What I think this show was better than many of its contemporaries was that those twists and turns paid off in one way or another. Nothing felt like a diversion or useless information. Everything we’ve learned has either affected someone’s secret or arc.
Sure, some clues lead to dead ends, but even our hooded person looking in the window helped make Mare pay off and what she means to the community.
When you start writing your twists, think about where they’re coming from – are they actually building the character and stakes, or are they just there as a cheap thrill?
4. End of episodes
Along with the twists and turns, every episode of mare made us want more. Each one ended with something new that changed our perspective or whetted our appetite. The pilot ends with the murder of a girl, the second episode ends with the shooting of the prime suspect, and so on. Every time we thought we knew what was going on, the filmmaker rearranged our thoughts so that we wanted to go back and follow the story through the episode.
Endings are so important, especially in a limited TV series. You need people who come back every week, so make sure your ends get people tune in.
5. Delete topics
One of the central themes of mare was the idea of dealing with grief. It helped us through Mares’ own story arc, but the way it expanded into the community was key to making people feel empathetic with the characters. Mourning the prodigal son, a prodigal brother, mourning a missing girl, a cheating husband, a case you cracked through mediocre evidence.
Everyone on this show was grieving for something. What topics do you write in your story? What covers the characters and fits so well into the world you built for them?
6. Realistic accents
They knew we couldn’t go much further without talking about the very specific accents at the center of this show. They were almost not part of the story. Even creator Brad Ingelsby was concerned about using them, but Winslet heard them and knew they had to be a huge part of the show and the character. To make it authentic, Winslet threw things around in her trailer and even hired a dialect trainer to take her around the worlds.
“There were a lot of things I could have put myself into that made it sound like I was doing something a little bit of gimmick and I didn’t want that to happen,” said Winslet the Philadelphia Inquirer. “So I just had to drill it and drill and drill it.”
What things can you add to your idea to make it more authentic? How can something as small as an accent give you more character?
In television, more than in almost any other medium, collaboration is key. Craig Zobel directed all of the episodes and worked closely with Ingelsby to create the look and feel of the series. But the conversation didn’t stop there. Winslet was the producer of the play and also brought her own opinions. Everyone in the story worked together to make sure what came on screen was special and original.
Who do you work with? Do you listen to the cast and crew ideas? How can you put together a team that will help you bring your best ideas to the big or small screen?
The end of the mare The series was a fitting finale for its character and the show. It was never just about solving the case, but about a community that comes to a conclusion after its grief. While it’s only meant to be one season, there is certainly more leeway for more stories to be told if Ingelsby so wishes.
The poetic thing about the show, however, was that even after the case closed, the characters involved had to find a way to move on to the next part of their lives. That has to do with the theme and some of the tropics we’d expect from a detective series.
Does your end offer a degree? Are you preparing us for more? How does it compare to the tropics of other ideas within the same genre?
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