‘Homecoming’ Designer Defines Series in One Shot
The long tracking sequence that kicks off Sam Esmail’s Amazon series required special construction
PRODUCTION DESIGNER Anastasia White is no stranger to “oners” — those long, sweeping, single-take scenes. She’s had plenty of experience, having worked with Sam Esmail, the writer, director and producer of USA Network’s “Mr. Robot” since 2016, when she joined the show’s second season.
Now White is teamed up with Esmail once again on “Homecoming,” Universal Cable Prods. and Amazon’s new halfhour drama series to be released Nov. 2. Starring Julia Roberts, it’s based on the Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz podcast of the same name.
Esmail, who directed all the episodes, kicked off the series with yet another oner. The camera tracks Roberts as Heidi, a caseworker at a treatment facility that helps reintegrate soldiers back into daily life, on an epic walk-and-talk starting in her office on an upper floor of the facility, tracking her down a flight of stairs and through a common area, around hallways passing individual soldiers’ rooms, down more stairs and through the lobby. The scene runs for three minutes.
In order to help achieve that vision, White built the multi-floored set — within a soundstage at Universal Studios in Hollywood — with a removable ceiling so that the crew could not only fit in a crane but also allow for overhead lights. Esmail let her in on his plan for the opening of the show early on, so White was able to consider in her earli-
Design Hook Fish, seen here in a tank in the office of Julia Roberts’ Heidi, are used as a show motif.