Organized by the IndieWire Crafts team, Craft Considerations is a platform for filmmakers to talk about recent work that we believe deserves recognition. Partnering with HBO, for this edition, we take a look at the subtle craftsmanship of “Mare of Easttown” with Emmy-nominated editor-in-chief Amy E. Duddleston, costume designer Meghan Kasperlik and production designer Keith P. Cunningham.
Creator Brad Ingelsby’s scripts for “Mare of Easttown” were filled with local detail, imbuing a fictional town with memories of the working-class Philadelphia suburb where he grew up. Combined with series director Craig Zobel’s naturalistic approach to filming on location, this meant that a premium was given to research and precision in regional detail. Yet capturing this authenticity was only a starting point for the artisans of “Mare of Easttown”.
In a story of one community’s interdependence – about people who grew up and now raise their children in the same town – these details would also become the building blocks of costume designer Meghan Kasperlik and set designer Keith P. Cunningham. who shaped the individuality of each character in the deep Ingelsby set. And as you’ll see in the first video below, editor Amy E. Duddleston should carefully refine a rich tapestry, balancing the demands of what she called a “family drama shrouded in the conventions of a mysterious murder. “.
The montage of “Mare of Easttown”
Duddleston had the unenviable task of not only balancing dozens of the main characters, but also keeping the viewer grounded in how their lives overlapped. As Detective Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) sifted through dozens of local connections to find out who murdered Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeny), the audience needed to understand how these pieces fit together.
When production unexpectedly came to a halt – with about two-thirds of each episode in the box – the publisher had an unorthodox opportunity to tighten up the complex ensemble piece when she was tasked with editing the Seven. episodes with the images they had. “It was great because we were able to perfect the scripts,” said Duddleston.
Once the cuts were seen, it became clearer which elements of the story were essential and which were not. During this process, Duddleston discovered that Ingelsby, who wrote each script, was a surprisingly open collaborator. “Brad really embraced it,” the publisher said. “He was all-round: open to taking things out, or removing dialogue, that we could see were not needed on the whole. Anything that would make things clearer. As a result, when production resumed, with two months of filming remaining, the creators focused on their core story and what they still needed to maintain narrative momentum and keep the first six episodes under an hour.
In the video above, Duddleston breaks down the unique balance of cutting the first episode, where she not only had to introduce all of the main characters (minus Evan Peters’ Det. Zabel), but also find ways to build Erin as that co-protagonist and anchor the viewer in the point of view of our hero.
Costume design for “Mare of Easttown”
From Philadelphia accents to the beer Mare drinks (Rolling Rock), regional details were key to creating a compelling atmosphere that viewers will want to visit – and scrutinize. From a craft standpoint, the northern Pennsylvania-based press focused its praise on the costumes designed by Meghan Kasperlik and her team.
A handful of local newspapers have reported how the Los Angeles-based costume designer pulled up outside taverns, hardware stores and convenience stores in her hometown to study residents’ functional approach to their wardrobe. But according to Kasperlik, this research was only a first step. The costume designer would hire a local shopper to buy dozens of t-shirts from local groups and businesses, and she would explain to Ingelsby each character’s specific job in aging well and individualizing their clothes.
In her early conversations with Winslet – in which the star detailed her intention to show off the roots of her character’s hair color and make her skin texture look worn out – Kasperlik knew she had a collaborator willing to discover Mare’s emotional burden through the costume. That didn’t mean that it was always easy to convert the star into a mare; Kasperlik admitted that the character’s evening wear was his two most difficult wardrobe pieces in the entire series.
“Kate is so gorgeous, it was like, ‘What can we get away with without it looking too good? “Kasperlik said.” We even tried on some simple dresses from Target, and it was, ‘Yeah, you look so good.’ “
In the video above, the costume designer explains how she worked with Winslet to create Mare’s ‘armor’, as well as her efforts to capture the intricacy of her daughter, Siobhan (Angourie Rice).
The design of the production of “Mare of Easttown”
Before working with Ingelsby on “Mare,” set designer Keith P. Cunningham learned about how the writer used the homes of his blue-collar characters to capture their emotional journey with their collaboration on the 2020 film ” The Way Back “. Next, Cunningham was forced (due to budget constraints) to translate Ingelsby’s Philly-based script into a California setting. For their HBO series, he had the rare opportunity to shoot on location.
Through extensive scouting and trust in the local team, Cunningham learned that each house has a base of older furniture, inherited from parents and grandparents, with a layer of contemporary items on top. The production designer and his decorators worked tirelessly to find the right combination of texture, tone, color, and pattern to capture each family’s story, but also provide a quick read that instantly steered the viewer so that the series jumped from house to house.
Cunningham admitted he was terrified of purposefully designing interiors that weren’t pretty or coordinated. “Mare of Easttown” takes place in the mundane places of everyday working class people; it doesn’t offer the kind of period, whimsy, or lavish decor that traditionally turns out to be catnip for an incoming art department.
Yet exploring the layers of these characters’ lives offered an equally rich palette. “Shooting in this location gave us great opportunities to make the normal look more cinematic,” Cunningham said.
In the video above, watch how the production designer did just that by using the spatial layout of each house to visually tell the story of the Sheehan and Ross families, as well as how he collaborated with Zobel to create compositions. dynamics that added depth and drama to each scene.