Netflix highlighted the crafts of “When They See Us” during a recent special event at their FYSEE space. The panel discussion, which took place at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood and was moderated by the show’s own writer-director Ava DuVernay, shined a spotlight on a variety of behind-the-scenes talents who spoke about their work on the limited series. Watch the full 47-minute Q&A above.
“When They See Us” tells the shattering true story of Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise, formerly known as the Central Park Five, now known more and more as the Exonerated Five. As teenagers in 1989, they were wrongfully accused of raping a white jogger in New York City. They were convicted and spent years behind bars and as registered sex offenders until their sentences were finally vacated in 2002, following the confession of the actual perpetrator, who by then was already in prison for a different crime.
As DuVernay took the stage to introduce the panelists, she revealed why celebrating these below-the-line artists was so “special” to her: “It’s the people that I really made it with,” she said, “the people that I really depended on to get through this subject matter.”
DuVernay then welcomed to the stage composer Kris Bowers, music supervisor Aaron Byrd, re-recording mixer Joe DeAngelis, sound editor Susan Dudeck, production designer Akin McKenzie, co-screenwriter Michael Starrbury, film editor Michelle Tesoro and executive producer Berry Welsh to break down what she described as “every little nerdy thing” that went into the making of the series.
The event concluded with Bowers performing selections from his original score on the piano, which brought the audience to its feet for a tearful standing ovation. A reception followed where guests were treated to drinks and hors d’oeuvres while touring Netflix’s interactive FYSEE space, which included displays from their various contenders.
For “When They See Us,” Netflix recreated one of the interrogation rooms where the innocent teens were questioned by the police, right down to the two-way mirror. The series highlights the impunity with which police and prosecutors targeted these children, so the two-way mirror is a testament to how sometimes when they see us, they don’t want us to see them.
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