Matt Munn Q&A: ‘Mr. Robot’ production designer
“We wanted to capture a very realistic vision and view of the city,” reveals production designer Matt Munn as we chat via webcam (watch above) about his work on “Mr. Robot.” Set in New York City, this USA Network series centers on an antisocial computer programmer (Rami Malek) who is recruited by a mysterious anarchist known only as Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) to help bring down corporate America.
Munn worked on the pilot episode, creating the style that defined the entire season.“It was a difficult task,” he admits, “because there are so many different realistic views of the city.” The action takes place on a wide variety of sets, from the high-end, upper one-percent excess of EvilCorp, to the gritty, underground world of the hacker group F-Society that is targeting them. “One of the big things to start off with was how we would differentiate between those, or draw little comparisons.”
Munn, who earned an Art Directors Guild nomination for his work on “The Wrestler,” delved into how he and his team accomplished this. For the world of EvilCorp, which in the pilot is glimpsed only briefly as a mysterious boardroom, “We wanted to capture this sort of glass and steel, high-rise look,” he explains, “almost like puppet-masters in a weird kind of way, looking out over the city and controlling things.”
Contrast that with the world of F-Society, which has set up shop in an abandoned arcade. This allowed Munn to create “a grittier look, but also there’s a lot more color and light.” He adds, “We could have old-style video games that I would remember from when I used to go to the arcade, little boxy video games that had a lot of interactive light to them. As well, we could bring in some greens and yellows and oranges.” Those little touches not only differentiate the sets but create a feeling within the viewer as well. The cold, hard boardroom feels “like unseen hands controlling the world,” whereas the bright, colorful F-Society “felt of the people, and of their world.”