Mimi Leder (‘The Morning Show’ director) on creating Lake Como in Los Angeles with blue screens: ‘Every scene was intricately worked on’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, but I keep learning every time,” reveals “The Morning Show” director Mimi Leder. “I think once you stop learning you should just go away. I love directing and I love to try new things.” We talked to Leder as part of our “Meet the Experts” TV directors panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.

“The Morning Show” stars Jennifer AnistonReese Witherspoon and Steve Carell on Apple TV+. It’s a fictional drama series about a breakfast news program with excellent ratings that is threatened with scandal and behind-the-scenes chaos. In the second season, the network CEO attempts to convince Alex (Aniston) to return as the COVID-19 pandemic gradually engulfs the United States, and the show itself. Bradley (Witherspoon) deals with an identity crisis.

“When COVID hit we had been shooting for 13 days,” she reveals. “Our second season shut down and we were one of the first to come back. We had to throw out all the scripts we had and start from scratch. Mitch (Carrell) was in exile, of his own making, in Lake Como. So we shot down on Olvera Street (in L.A.). It had cobblestones. It had single stories. And we dressed it with our incredibly brilliant production designer. It just felt like Italy. We put blue screens all around and put the lake in and put the second stories in of all the buildings. We did a lot of research. We never left L.A. The villa that we shot at was in Sierra Madre.”

Leder then was able to make the outside of the villa appear to be in Italy by using a “virtual scout” in Italy with a drone unit. “We picked our peninsula,” she explains. “We put the villa on peninsula and shot all these incredible angles to set up our establishing shots. We did water plates so that when he is standing on the lanai he is seeing these incredible views of Lake Como. Every scene was intricately worked on.”

“The Morning Show” received eight Emmy Award nominations for its first season, including a win for Billy Crudup as Best Drama Supporting Actor. Leder herself has received 10 bids throughout her career, winning twice in 1995 and 1996 for the NBC drama “ER.”

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