Day two of the Midnight, Texas
press day started out similar to the day before. The other journalists and I met at the hotel and were picked up and driven to Stage 9 at Albuquerque Studios. Stage 9 would once again be our base camp, at least for the start of the day.
First up were the round table interviews. First to our table was François Arnaud, who plays the character of Manfred Bernardo in the show.
One of the things Arnaud discussed is how the series will be a bit different this season because of the new showrunners and teased a bit of what’s to come. “I think the writers this season really expanded the mythology. I mean, I’m really surprised at how ambitious it became. It really departs from the book. It’s still relationship centered, but it departs from the soapy dynamics of the couples. By the end of the second season, we physically move into other realms, and it’s surprising to read at first, but it all makes sense. They tie up loose ends, and by the end of the season, the world that the writers managed to create with the show goes well beyond Midnight and well beyond the physical world as we know it. It’s very cool.”
The actor also talked about how Manfred feels about the newcomers to Midnight at the beginning of the series. “Everyone’s slightly suspicious of them. My character experiences a blend of suspicion and also concern for them, because I know that the hotel is haunted. I know they’re bringing in new people who are potentially victims of whatever’s going on and whatever darkness is there.
“Kai (Nestor Carbonell), the healer, is a bit standoffish at first and seems particularly threatened by Manfred. I think that threat sort of materializes when Manfred and Patience (Jaime Ray Newman), Kai’s wife, sort of become partners in crime, in a way. So yeah, not everyone’s a big fan of that.”
Next up to our table was Dylan Bruce, who plays the character of Bobo, owner of Midnight Pawn. Last season Bobo and Fiji (Parisa Fitz-Henley) finally came together both romantically and physically.
Bruce talked about his experience playing Bobo on the show. “I’ve played a lot of dark characters before, or like a lot of, you know, guys that were very conflicted morally. I feel like the guy I’m playing right now is really good, and I think the show is written in a fun way, even though it’s a supernatural show, and we go really dark. Like just last year we kind of tackled some sociopolitical issues as well, so it’s nice to be in a show where we feel like we can be light in certain areas and have a lot of fun. And I’ve had a lot of fun on the show. And just the fact that it’s a huge ensemble and everybody gets their piece of cake, their equal piece of cake, is really cool too.”
Another thing Bruce talked about his chemistry with Fitz-Henley. “We both feel that we could have chemistry with anyone. I’ve worked with actresses that I didn’t necessarily think that chemistry was reciprocal, but then I saw it on screen, and I was like, ‘okay.’ I really feel like I can have chemistry with anyone, and she feels the same way, so when you put two people that would kind of have that in their arsenal together, I think the chemistry just naturally forms.
“We actually really like each other as friends; we really respect each other. She's a great scene partner. She's so insightful; she'll bring so much to a scene, and I'm so receptive of that. Like, I'm not set in my ways. I like to explore with the other person; I like to hear their ideas, and she is the same with me. So, I think it's just a mutual understanding that we respect each other. We really like each other and really enjoy working together, and I think that really translates to the screen. And people really love them as a couple, and I think in the books they really loved them as a couple too, so that was important for us, but it was really easy.
“So, I don't know what that is. I just feel like I like people, and she likes people. Neither of has an ego, and we don’t come in with chips on our shoulders. And we're both very thankful to be working in this industry...I just feel really lucky to have her. I really do.”
During the interview, Fitz-Henley joined Dylan at the table. She also discussed their chemistry, as well as being able to add their own ideas into their characters.
“My intuition has always been very connected with Fiji from the from the moment that I got the phone call about whether I'd want to do this audition or not. I just knew; I knew that something special was going on. And we have been fortunate enough to have showrunners and directors that really respect our intuition about these characters. So, you know, of course you have your research and there are logical next steps, but then there's also things that just come to us, that we just know in our guts are right for the characters, and the people on the show really have been receptive to that; the creators have been very receptive to that.”
The actress also confirmed that the character would be doing more magic this season. “She's just much more comfortable with being herself and using her powers in the smallest ways, and then some massively huge ways. And we get to see her dabbling in riskier magic, and that may take her and others down some pretty dark pathways.”
After the cast interviews, it was time to move on to a tour of the interior sets with the new line producer, Jeff Rafner, but first, we headed to the wardrobe trailer to talk to costume designer Daniela Moore.
One of the things she talked about was what she thought was the most important part about working in wardrobe.
“I think the most important thing about wardrobe is that you have to be ridiculously organized, because we never shoot in order...[We have] some clothes that’s the setup of our prep line for the day, so we’re shooting more than one episode, so they’ve made a divider for each episode, as which characters are playing and what day. And then all of the outfits are put together with tags and photos and character names for all the scenes that they are in. And then they prep and set clothes they put the tags on the bulletin board, so they know what’s out sitting in the rooms and what’s on stage.”
Among other things, she also talked about buying clothing pieces versus creating them.
“I would say like 95 percent we acquire, we purchase, and 5 percent we build. But it depends on the episode too. This episode we had a lot of things to build. So, a couple days ago I had like six people sewing until midnight to get ready for scene.”
Rafner talked a bit about some of the difficulties they face.
“Just keep in mind, when we get a script, we usually know very little about what’s in it. Luckily for our finale episodes, we’ve known ahead of time and have been able to do things, but we get a script, have to conceptualize it, and put everything together, get all the clothes altered, fit, ready everything and all the choices in less than eight days.”
Next it was time for the tour of the interior sets on the sound stage. We were joined set designer Beth Rubino, who gave us some insight into different things during the tour.
We started off in the one place I had missed last year. I somehow hadn’t realized before that there was an actual set behind the exterior of Manfred’s house that was inside the studio. However, this time we were able to enter and look around his apartment. Unfortunately, this time for this and many of the set interiors, for some reason, no one turned the lights on in the studio, so it was very dark. I was disappointed in the quality photos I got, but still very excited to see everything.
We next visited Olivia (Arielle Kebbel) and Lem (Peter Mensah)’s place, but this time we also were able to see inside Olivia’s weapons cabinet. Their apartment is still my favorite of the interior sets.
Next was a new set of Joe (Jason Lewis) and Chuy (Bernardo Saracino)’s apartment.
In the middle of an open area of the set was what a healing chamber they call “The Cube.” It was mobile. This appears in episode two of the season.
Another new set was of areas in the Crystal Desert hotel and spa. We saw a guest room as well as some hallways. In the ceiling of one of the hallways was a grate in the shape of the hotel’s logo (I believe this was called The Occulus). Rubino told us that they would shine light through it and it would make the logo pattern on the floor. She also showed us some photos of it being used.
Next it was time to go to the interior of Fiji’s Inquiring Mind and home. Her living room and shop we saw last year, which is another of my favorites, but this time we also got to see other rooms in her house.
We next took a very quick trip through Midnight Pawn’s interior but did not get an extensive look. It seemed like some of the set dressing was different from what I remembered from the first season when I was there. I’m glad we got to see more of it last season, as it is one of the coolest sets. I snapped up as many photos as I could.
After the tour, we returned “base camp” where we participated in the interviews earlier. Rafter talked a bit about the steps in preproduction.
“In prep on day one of shooting an episode, we have what we call a concept meeting where the writers and all the department heads talk about the big picture, what’s being looked for for that episode. That usually takes two or three hours.
“And then after that, we then break up to individual department meetings.
“So, there will be a special effects meeting, a visual effects meeting, a makeup effects meeting, a hair and makeup meeting, wardrobe, and props. All of the different departments will have the individual meetings where we will do a page turn on the script and go through the details of what’s needed for the episode, at which point depending upon what’s in the script, we then break off into even more in-depth meetings for those things.
“So, if we have a featured set that will require a bunch of specific special effects, that will require multiple departments to be in, we’ll have a meeting for that specific gag or thing that we’re putting together involving all the people that would be involved.
“So, that goes through all the different days, and as we get to the end of prep, probably day six, we’ll have a tech scout, where everyone will get on a bus and go to whatever location we’re filming at, and we’ll all talk about what we’re going to film.
“At that point, we come back and have a production meeting where we go through the script. Everyone asks questions collectively at the end, and then the last day we start shooting again.
“And then rinse and repeat. It’s the same thing for the next episode, so that’s the process going through everything.”
Afterwards, we participated in a press conference with new showrunners Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder.
One of the things Charmelo discussed some of the changes this season. “It feels more serialized for sure. Last season, I think the show was trying to find its legs, and there were monster of the week elements, and we still have that peripherally, but the relationships take front and center this season.”
Snyder added more about the serialization. “It's interesting. I think it was definitely more monster of the week last season; this year's heavy mythology. Mythology unfolds in every single episode, and as Eric said, it's much more serialized, but we kind of wove in a monster of the week here and there.”
Snyder also talked about the direction for season two being affected by last season, including characters leaving. “It opened us up to new characters and new storylines. We still wanted to service the things that were set up at the end of the season, like the trickling of demon residue from Manfred's ear and the hotel being opened, but it really allowed us to brainstorm how to bring new people into Midnight and new big bads. It gave us a little more room.”
She also talked about being inspired by the books, but not using much of their content. “We got a lot of inspiration from the books in terms of characters and in terms of tone and atmosphere, but just the idea of a hotel opening is about all we took from the books. We really just wanted to be creative and be out there. We felt we used a lot of story from the books in season one, and we just started from scratch.”
Charmelo told journalists that you can watch season two, however, without having seen the first season. “I think you can come in fresh, one hundred percent. Like Nicole said, we inherited two hanging chads from last season. Manfred being possessed by six demons in order to vanquish Colconnar, that will have some residual effect this season, but you didn't have to watch last season in order to understand what's happening. And then also the opening of the hotel, which was taken from the book, but we expanded on it for this season.”
The showrunners were the last we heard from for the day.
We next spent time again in press media village at the Cartoon Saloon to watch another scene being filmed on the monitors. We were also free to roam the set exteriors again.
At one point we were also able to catch a glimpse of a scene being filmed on the exterior lot, but we couldn’t get super close.
Before leaving for the night, we each had a chance to quickly see another part of the spa interior, where the scene we had watched that day had been filmed. There was a large (at the moment covered) pool in the middle of the lobby with pillows around the exterior.
Not long after, it was time to wrap up our day and go back to the hotel.