Amy Seimetz and Lodge KerriganÂ readily admit during our recent webcam chat (watch above) toÂ being shocked when Oscar-winning directorÂ Steven SoderberghÂ (“Traffic”) chose them to adapt his acclaimed 2009 filmÂ “The Girlfriend Experience” for television. “It was very surreal to get a phone call from him offering a television show,â€ Seimetz says. â€œHaving known him now though,â€ she adds, â€œhe likes that direct contact and cutting out the middlemen.â€ And Kerrigan agrees. â€œIt was a very collaborative experience. When you work with Steven, he makes a lot of suggestions and gives his input, but he never forces you to take his notes, so it really becomes a conversation between three filmmakers.â€
Their Starz drama series, whichÂ recently wrappedÂ its first season, focuses on law student Christine Reade (Riley Keough), an intern at a prestigious New York law firm who moonlights as a high-end escort.Â They detail their approach toÂ bringing their shared vision to life. â€œWe would talk every day for hours and hours over Skype,â€ says Seimetz. â€œWe mapped out the entire season. And then once we were done with the entire arc of the whole season, we broke down each episode, scene by scene by scene, so by the time that we were actually ready to start writing the screenplay, we knew exactly what was going to happen.â€œ
KerriganÂ saysÂ their collaboration continued throughout the entire process of putting the show together. â€œIf you can write all of the scripts up front, if you can get one or two writer-directors, or directors to do the entire show, you get a real specific unity of vision that you donâ€™t get with traditional televisions where you have many writers and directors. The shooting process becomes much more efficient.â€
The series has been praised for exploring sexuality, gender and identity. The sex scenesÂ are givenÂ context and do not come across as gratuitous. â€œIt was very matter of fact,â€ Seimetz says, explaining that the intention was to put the viewersÂ in the room, â€œlike they were watching this experience that they really werenâ€™t supposed to be.â€ ThisÂ enabled the audience to be privy to these very private and intimate moments that the lead character was experiencing as she began to discover who she wanted to be.
â€œWe started with this premise of somebody who enters this world of high-end escorts,â€ Kerrigan explains. â€œShe would have to compartmentalize aspects of her life; being a law student, being an intern, her personal life and her professional life as an escort. Invariably when you try to compartmentalize different aspects thereâ€™s going to be spill over and your worlds start to collide. When they start to collide, which they do on this show, then youâ€™re forced to make a choice, and thatâ€™s what is guiding this whole thing. What choice in the end that she makes about what she wants out of her life.â€
Kerrigan and Seimetz have signed on for the showâ€™s second season, but plan to eventually move on to other projects. â€œThe idea behind it is that it will be a new woman in a new city or a new man in a new city every season. Itâ€™s an anthology,â€ Seimetz explains. â€œThe spirit behind the whole thing and what Steven did with us is that he wants to bring in these independent filmmakers and give them complete creative control. We will then hand it off to other filmmakers so that they can put their own spin on it.â€
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