Halt and Catch Fire: on the set of the best show on TV (that no one is watching)
We get a behind-the-scenes look at the show thats been dubbed the heir apparent to Mad Men and has reinvented the dark anti-hero drama
Kerry Bish has a problem. More to the point, she has a problem with a line. Can we change this? Can I say narcissist instead of diva? she asks Halt and Catch Fire showrunner Chris Rogers and the director of the episode, Reed Moreno. Its not a surprising exchange for a series that has developed a reputation for putting forth some of the most well-rounded female characters on TV. Bishs character, Donna Clark, is in the process of disparaging her partner, Cameron Howe, played by Mackenzie Davis, in the tech start-up Mutiny. Their complex friendship and tumultuous business relationship are the heart and soul of a critical darling that is hoping to broaden its audience after a surprising and welcome season three renewal.
The Halt set is a jolly place, overtaking a sprawling soundstage tucked amid the tree-lined freeways of Atlanta. Rogers and his partner, Chris Cantwell, who took over as showrunners from previous steward Jonathan Lisco, cultivate a cheerful yet diligent atmosphere. Cast and crew are rewarded with snowcones in celebration of the final day of shooting for guest star Annabeth Gish, who joins the series as a venture capitalist who becomes involved with Mutinys growth plans. The days work ceases for the snowcones and a quick speech to honor Gishs work, ending earlier than anyone expected. Moreno, an accomplished cinematographer-turned-director who is attached to helm the first few episodes of Hulus adaptation of Margaret Atwoods The Handmaids Tale, is remarkably efficient for someone directing their first episode of television ever.
What began as a corporate thriller set amid the Silicon Prairie era of the computer industry, in Texas led by Lee Pace as smooth-talking salesman Joe MacMillan and Scoot McNairy as the nebbishy Gordon Clark has morphed into an ensemble piece thats now set in 1986 Silicon Valley. Each season has felt like a software update refreshing the user interface and fixing the bugs, while keeping the basic framework intact. When we sat together and talked about what we wanted the show to look like, we were borrowing a lot from late 70s films like All the Presidents Men and Parallax View and The Conversation, producer Jeff Freilich says.