“For me, it’s really about the material,” admits Anthony Hemingway as we chat via webcam (see above) about what drew him to direct episodes of “Underground” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” “With any material that I do,” he elaborates, “I love that it really has a purpose and a meaning behind it.”
Set during the Antebellum period, “Underground” dramatizes the beginnings of the underground railroad, a subject the director wanted to explore. “I know that from my own past, I constantly wanted to find those connections and references for me in life and history,” he reveals. He relished, “the opportunity to really portray and give a platform for the brilliance and resilience within these humans.”
Hemingway helmed the first four episodes of the WGN America series, and submitted the first, “The Macon Seven,” for Emmy consideration. “Doing a pilot to a new series is so stressful,” he readily admits. “You really have a lot of responsibility in creating that language.” He praises creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski. “They wanted it to be bold, and that’s all you have to say to me.” He adds, “I was inspired to keep dreaming, and I wanted a visual experience that continued to defy what anyone thought.”
“The People v. O.J. Simpson,” the first installment of FX’s anthology series “American Crime Story,” takes viewers inside the O.J. Simpson murder trial, which dominated the airwaves with its lurid mix of race, sex, and celebrity. Hemingway directed five episodes: “The Dream Team,” “100% Not Guilty,” “Conspiracy Theories,” “A Jury in Jail,” and “Manna from Heaven.” “Each hour of this 10-hour story is different,” he explains. “It has a different focus. So as much as that arc changes, or each hour of that 10 hours is really geared to focus on something different, so it’s style should.”
Hemingway, who was nominated for the Golden Camera award at Cannes for the film “Red Tails,” submitted “Manna from Heaven,” in which the infamous Mark Fuhrman tapes are played, for Emmy consideration. “It really represents the whole story,” he raves. “That hour really, I think, fairly dealt with everything we had been dealing with over the course of the season.”
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