MONDO EXTRAS

Shades of grey

by Sars April 12, 2006
RJ Cutler Interview

You know, it was -- I actually wrote about it in my blog on the show, because it was such a critical point in the process, and I made that decision in the three-week period after John Landgraf first approached me and asked if this is something I might be interested in doing, and I went off to kind of think about doing it, how I would do it, what I would do, and mostly I had questions -- I had just dozens and dozens of questions, outside of just even the makeup process, which had its whole own set of questions. And…there were three categories: there was the makeup, there was the casting, and there was "how are we going to structure this," what are they going to do.

When it came to makeup, it was all about meeting Keith VanderLaan, he was the only makeup artist I met who I thought could actually pull this off. And in terms of casting, the key decisions had to do with, for me, doing two families, with three people each, and finding families who self-identified as open-minded and open-hearted on the issue of race -- as believing in diversity, having experienced diversity in their own lives, believing that race should not be a barrier to equal opportunity or equal justice or any of those things. And then in terms of structure I was struggling with what are they gonna do and who are they gonna talk to and how are they going to learn, are you going to bring in experts to teach them, and what does that even mean, and why would we do that, and it was Mary Lisio, who runs development at my company, who suggested that they live together in the same house, and at first I was very resistant to the idea, because I felt it was a reality kind of convention that I didn't want to --

Yeah, I kind of thought the same thing, but then some of the best interchanges, I think, some of the most interesting stuff, is when they're sitting around.

Well, yeah, and as I thought about it, I thought, on the one hand it's a reality convention, so maybe I don't want to do it. On the other hand, let's put that aside and think about all the advantages, because it actually was a fairly ingenious idea of Mary's, because this way, the two families would actually be able to train each other. This way, issues about race that had come up during the day while they were in makeup would play out interpersonally with them at home. This way, they could get to know them and spend time with them, interacting with people of the other race, not in makeup but in their own skin, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought, "Oh my God, they're going to have these relationships, the people that they talk to, that's going to matter." Because we knew they would never be able to hang out at home with anybody who they met, because the people they met they would meet in makeup, so when they took off the makeup at the end of the day who are they going to talk to, and that was -- the more I thought about it the more I felt, like I'm describing right now, all these thoughts, it was as if the floodgates opened, so a day or two later I said, you know, we're going to do that -- it's perfect. That was one of the three fundamental decisions I made while deciding to do the show.

I have a quick question about people that they met, and then I want to get back to the casting. When they were doing stuff like shopping undercover, or the part where they're at the park and there's the drum circle -- obviously the cameras were there, but how much were the people they interacted with told about what was going on? Were they told anything about what was going on?

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Shades of grey

by Sars April 12, 2006
RJ Cutler Interview

You know, it was -- I actually wrote about it in my blog on the show, because it was such a critical point in the process, and I made that decision in the three-week period after John Landgraf first approached me and asked if this is something I might be interested in doing, and I went off to kind of think about doing it, how I would do it, what I would do, and mostly I had questions -- I had just dozens and dozens of questions, outside of just even the makeup process, which had its whole own set of questions. And…there were three categories: there was the makeup, there was the casting, and there was "how are we going to structure this," what are they going to do.

When it came to makeup, it was all about meeting Keith VanderLaan, he was the only makeup artist I met who I thought could actually pull this off. And in terms of casting, the key decisions had to do with, for me, doing two families, with three people each, and finding families who self-identified as open-minded and open-hearted on the issue of race -- as believing in diversity, having experienced diversity in their own lives, believing that race should not be a barrier to equal opportunity or equal justice or any of those things. And then in terms of structure I was struggling with what are they gonna do and who are they gonna talk to and how are they going to learn, are you going to bring in experts to teach them, and what does that even mean, and why would we do that, and it was Mary Lisio, who runs development at my company, who suggested that they live together in the same house, and at first I was very resistant to the idea, because I felt it was a reality kind of convention that I didn't want to --

Yeah, I kind of thought the same thing, but then some of the best interchanges, I think, some of the most interesting stuff, is when they're sitting around.

Well, yeah, and as I thought about it, I thought, on the one hand it's a reality convention, so maybe I don't want to do it. On the other hand, let's put that aside and think about all the advantages, because it actually was a fairly ingenious idea of Mary's, because this way, the two families would actually be able to train each other. This way, issues about race that had come up during the day while they were in makeup would play out interpersonally with them at home. This way, they could get to know them and spend time with them, interacting with people of the other race, not in makeup but in their own skin, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought, "Oh my God, they're going to have these relationships, the people that they talk to, that's going to matter." Because we knew they would never be able to hang out at home with anybody who they met, because the people they met they would meet in makeup, so when they took off the makeup at the end of the day who are they going to talk to, and that was -- the more I thought about it the more I felt, like I'm describing right now, all these thoughts, it was as if the floodgates opened, so a day or two later I said, you know, we're going to do that -- it's perfect. That was one of the three fundamental decisions I made while deciding to do the show.

I have a quick question about people that they met, and then I want to get back to the casting. When they were doing stuff like shopping undercover, or the part where they're at the park and there's the drum circle -- obviously the cameras were there, but how much were the people they interacted with told about what was going on? Were they told anything about what was going on?

Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6Next

Comments

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