Occasionally, we here at Fangirlish get the opportunity to do things that we wouldn’t have imagined. One of the most recent examples of this is when we were invited to go behind the scenes of two Toronto based television sets to get the insight scoop on what happens behind the scenes, how it call comes together, and what inspires those who bring us some of our favorite shows in the small screen.
One of these shows is Falling Water, a dramatic thriller that takes us inside the minds of the characters through their dreams, and gives us a point of view we never could have expected. Featured on USA Network, the show is now in its second season, and has been thrilling viewers with its original concept and psychological intersection between reality and unconscious.
Falling Water explores the story of three completely unrelated people who realize that they are all dreaming separate parts of the same dream. Each has their own motives and purpose within these dreams, but quickly learn that this new ability not only allows them to enter each others subconscious through dreams, but also manipulate the reality of others. They are thrown into a world they couldn’t have anticipated as they learn how to control this gift and protect themselves and the ones closest to them.
On a cold Wednesday morning in November, Fangirlish got to go behind the scenes of this remarkable new series as they film season two, meet the cast, directors and those who bring this thrilling world to life, and see exactly what it takes to bring such a show to the screen.
Arriving at the Toronto set, we were quickly greeted by the director, Tim Andrew, and showrunner, Remi Aubuchon. It doesn’t take long for us to see the passion and dedication these two men have for this show, the vision they foresee for its future and how they plan to bring it to life. Describing themselves as ‘Team Falling Water’, they are both new to this show in season two to take what was wonderfully done in the first season and give it a new spin, and a shot of adrenaline.
“If the first season was all about our characters and what they have, our season is about taking those skills and finding out what to do with them now,” Aubuchon told us.
This show, to Aubuchon, is all about people trying to figure out who they are and where they belong in the world, with a genre twist that brings real human issues on a side of fantasy. Bringing in new characters to season two, a new sense of change will be taking flight with the show to move it towards a more action based genre. Season one was created by Aubuchon’s mentor, Henry Bromwell, was somewhat intellectualized. Now, this team wants to inject adrenaline and open up this world a little more. Much of the action occurred within the dream world, but there is a focus to translate that into reality. To show that things happening within the dreams, have consequences in the real world, and solutions lay in both realms.
The first question of the group was simple:
Do they know who Jame’s father is? The answer? Yes, but of course, they were tight lipped in their answers. They promise all will be revealed in due time, but as season one for Tess was all about finding her son, season two is all about finding herself in this new life now that James is a part of it. Burton has gone through a true existential crisis, learning the implications of what he is involved in and knowing that he must now take an active part in rectifying what he was partially responsible for. Whereas Taka, a character who was clearly the most damaged with his relationship with his mother, he has been most resistive to his new gift but finds himself six months later determined not to dream again. Unfortunately for him, fate has its own plan.
As the second season will be placed six months following the end of season one, there will be a gap between this time. Andrews admits that there will be flashbacks to clarify change during this time, but the true skill in this show will be determining the difference between the dream world and reality. Bringing it all together is a craft that Andrews and the team have taken on with enthusiasm and dedication, bringing a sense of individuality to each persons dreams. Everyone has a different way of dreaming and differentiating their subconscious personalities is an additional challenge in bringing this story to life.
“But the possibilities are endless. How do we make this even better?” Andrews said.
One thing that is important to mention with this team, is the open dialogue within each individual for creating this world. They do not rely on visual effects, or simply script and set creation to build these sequences. They welcome and encourage input from every level of crew, actors, set design and more, taking each persons creativity to build a world unlike any other.
Following our sit down with Remi and Tim, we were introduced to the mastermind behind building the world we see on the screen, Andrew Stearn. It is his job to take what is on the written page, and build around it. To see into the future, so to speak, of where this show will go, and create sets that bring it all to life. Walking through the sets, we were thrust from reality to dream world and back, and the way the same idea could be twisted to fit each. A jail cell, like any other, looked completely normal and incredibly intricate in its detail in the ‘real’ set. But take it to the dream world, and all of a sudden it is a caged dome, dominating over an open grave. The most impressive set, by far, was the police station in which Taka lived. The detail was impeccable, from the ball of elastic bands, to the little jar of gummy bears with a post-it note reading ‘only each 3 a day’. Even a little paper airplane residing in a crevice, all brought a real life, human feel to this fantasy world. But without a doubt, the set in which each person wanted to live, was Taka’s apartment. Cast in smoke from a recent filming, it was open concept, lofty and exuded old world charm. It was easy to forget that we were standing on a set and not in a New York City apartment. The skill in which Stearn applies to these sets is so detail oriented, you are immersed into the world he wants you to see.
Following our tour, we had the chance to sit down with newcomer to Falling Water, Sepideh Moafi. Stunning, charming and so incredibly real, you feel like you are sitting with an old friend. Right down to the cursing, and warnings from the producers not to swear. Sepi’s character is new to the show, taking on the role of Alex, a no nonsense detective who will be Taka’s new partner. The two couldn’t be more different with regard to their interpretation of the dream world, but quickly Alex begins to understand just how life altering her new partners world can be. Skeptical from the start, she follows Taka’s intuition and learns to balance that with the need to facts and proof.
“They are the perfect ying and yang. I think as humans we have both those sides, but we are more aware of one than the other.” Moafi said.
Season 2 brings us a serial killer who enters individuals dreams and brings them to commit crimes. We see through his victims, who become these murderers, the acts he brings them to commit.
“Taka is going off with his intuition and I always have to bring it down to what we can use in court,” Moafi continued.
The diversity of this cast is notable, both in ethnicity and sexuality, to which cast and crew admit was unintentional, but for them, completely natural. The world is a diverse place, and for the Falling Water production, translating that onto the screen is not a measure of intention so much as creating a real world on the screen.
Sitting down with Will Yun Lee, David Ajala and Lizzie Brochere, who each play Taka, Burton and Tess respectively, we are meeting the characters who bring this fantastical world to life. Who give it a humanistic touch, and who make is truly care about the individuals rather than simply the fantasy of dreaming. The final interview for the day with the Falling Water cast and crew started off with a game of two truths and a lie for season two. For this, only one of the spoilers is lie, but with a show such as this, it can be difficult to know which it is!
Lizzie offered this, “We can enter dreams of other people in other continents.”
David, “We can enter the dream world when we are submerged in water.”
Will, “Midway through the season when we start dreaming, everyone speaks a different language.”
Which do you think is the lie?
Coming back to season 2 with so many changes, the cast felt happy to return and dive into the dream world with such a close knit group.
“Season one set just a solid foundation for us to make it bigger and better for season 2, and I am very happy I feel that way.” Ajala offered up.
The cast is quick to praise the production team, of taking the seeds lain in season one to create a world of mythology, adrenaline and rich drama into season 2. For Lee, as season one was quite a solitary one for him, now with a partner and a world coming alive around him, his character is ready to dive into what has been created.
Ajala is a veteran of genre, previously seen in Jupiter Ascending, and was asked if those skills were brought over to this show. Because the scope is so wild, with no limit, he feels encouraged to embrace his imagination and use it within the story.
A question for Brochere, is which is more difficult now that she has her son with her. The dream world and the drama that follows it, or the life she is learning to navigate with him. For her, she relates it to any mother in juggling her motherhood with her job, life and all the other obligations women face. Of course, with a more fantasy realm.
With regard to the characters transitions into this new season, Ajala puts it perfectly. “Teething problems”, as he calls it, is the characters first trying to learn how to navigate this world, understand their ability and what it means, just like a baby with a teething ring. Everything is confusing, new and with endless possibility. Now, they are learning the rules, and just when they do, something changes so they feel they are always playing catch up.
“I think what is cool about this show, is for people watching it they can see just how tangible dreams can be and how dreams can change outcomes.” he continued.
Coming to an end of our time on the Falling Water set, we are all feeling much more connected to our own subconscious and the power of our dreams. Some of us think nothing of them, maybe don’t even remember them come morning, while others consider them hints to our innermost feelings and connections to the future.
Whatever they mean, Falling Water is an innovative, unique and captivating show that we cant wait to see play out in season two, which airs in January. A million thank you’s to the cast, crew and USA Network for having us on this amazing adventure!