‘The Afterparty’ is the new murder-mystery comedy series from Writer/Directors/Producers Chris Miller & Phil Lord, premiering on Apple TV+ January 28th. With a complex setup and a cast stacked full of stars, Screen Times dives into the making of the show and where else you can enjoy the show’s talents on your Apple TV.
Centering on the murder of popstar ‘Xavier’ (Franco) at the afterparty of his high school reunion, The Afterparty’ started off as a movie concept by Miller in 2010. He later expanded it to a series after realising it would benefit from more focus on each character and their POV from the night of the murder. Adding to the characters stories, each retelling of the night is told in a different film genre from Rom-com to action movie and everything in between, even using different lenses, lighting and photography. “Each genre pays homage to different ways of storytelling,” says Miller. “It was a chance to get to do all the things we love in different types of movies. And there are hundreds of references because it’s such a complicated show with so many different styles of filmmaking in it.”
Assembling a team of writers to plan out the stories, “At one point in the writers’ room, there were three whiteboards filled to the brim with story maps and intricate details so we could track everything,” says Lord.
Ben Schwartz (Yasper) A master improviser, make sure to catch his two person show ‘Middleditch & Schwartz’ with Tomas Middleditch. He’s most recently played Sonic in the Sonic the Hedgehog movie and will always be known as the outrageous Jean-Ralphio on 'Parks & Recreation'.
Shooting was also a mammoth challenge with scenes from different ‘mind movies’ being shot on the same day. “We would do a rom-com version of a scene in a hallway with Ilana, Zoe and Sam,” Miller explains. “And then we changed the lighting and the camera package and did another version of the scene as the thriller which was dark, moody and mysterious, instead of romantic and well-lit. It was a different scene with a different mood and different vibe, but it was the same moment of the night, just seen two different ways.”
“While it was important for each look to be informed by its intended film genre, and to be unique unto itself, we also wanted a longer visual arc to develop over the course of the season,” Herse explains. “Our early episodes recount the events of the same night, and are primarily composed in a cinematic 2.35:1 aspect ratio to emphasize the subjectivity of their viewpoint. Later in the season, we flash back to much earlier periods in our characters’ lives, which were shot to create the immersive feeling of a lasting memory. We achieved this immersive look by formatting the later episodes in a way that would fill the screen more than the rest of the series. The greatest undertaking in designing each look, and the show's overall evolution, was to identify all of the little ways we could build out each unique perspective. We even made rules about how we shot our coverage, by either adhering to the use of over-the-shoulder style camera placement, or shooting dialogue scenes clean of our foreground character.”
Zoë Chao as (Zoe) Chao appeared recently in the HBO Max series ‘Love Life’ alongside Anna Kendrick. We’d also recommend catching her in the series ‘Strangers’.
The creators even brought in a magician to consult on the show. David Kwong, who also worked on ‘Now You See Me’, created coded messages and cyphers that were dotted throughout the show. “In every episode, we’ve hidden a bunch of coded messages that are extra bonus hints for who did it. In the set dressing there are all these hidden things and if you freeze-frame you can decode hidden messages.” Said Miller. Director of Photography Carl Herse: “Chris went to great lengths to sneak many clues and easter eggs into the series, and he provided me with a roadmap during prep on how we could send puzzles and secret messages to the audience. It will be a lot of fun to see how many people pick up on it!”
John Early as (Detective Culp) Early is well known for many voice over roles but his real breakout is in the fantastic series ‘Search Party’.
All the costumes are very carefully chosen too. Costume designer Trayce Gigi Field explains: “I wanted people to be interested andinvested in the characters, even though they will most likely be wearing the same clothes theentire time. Part of my idea was that every character would be color-coded, kind of like thegame of ‘Clue,’ so you would always know which player was who. There are also these eastereggs that are planted costume-wise. They are clues, like little switcheroos, so I think theviewers need to be very attentive in order to catch all of these little bits and surprises!”
Check out our full review of The Afterparty here and watch our interview with Chris Lord & Phil Miller here.
'The Afterparty'premiered on Apple TV+ Friday January 28th with the first 3 episodes. Each subsequent episode will premiere every Friday culminating with the finale on 4th March.
Jonathan, ScreenTimes’ Contributing Editor has been lucky enough to work on Apple products his whole life, ever since his Dad brought home a Mac Performa aged 11 (him, not his Dad). Apple is just engrained in his life, especially nowadays, as a graphic designer. His nerdy enthusiasm for Apple is only matched by his love of TV and film. Whether a buzz-worthy new show or blockbuster, a small cult show or an indie film, he’ll watch it. So Apple TV meets right in the middle of that Venn diagram! He also writes on his personal site, smallbites.me. He lives in London and is writing his own bio in the third person.