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NHFF Gets Behind the Scenes with Michelle McClaren and Steve Mosko

(left to right) Michelle McClaren, Steve Mosko, Rae Dawn Chong 

The NHFF had the great opportunity to welcome back Michelle McClaren, as well as Steve Mosko, both high industry leaders in film and television, to The Music Hall’s historical stage. Hosted by Rae Dawn Chong of The Color Purple, we got to get a behind the scenes look into today’s hottest shows including Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Deuce, The Crown and more.

Michelle McClaren is a staple director in the film and television industry, and is the woman behind the best shows of all time, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Westworld, Better Call Saul, The Crown and The Deuce, which is her most recent project.

Steve Mosko is the former Chairman of Sony Pictures Television and Executive Producer of Kevin Can Wait and the final season of Breaking Bad.

Kicking off the panel conversations was the showing of a scene from Breaking Bad where, while ten jailhouse murders take place, Frank Sinatra sweetly sing his tune, and the perspective pans from blood and mayhem to the infamous Walter White standing by his living room window checking his watch. Even though the majority of the audience had experienced this scene before, it left a chill at its closing.

In response, Chong exclaimed, “Bravo!” to killing ten characters off in two minutes and doing it to the voice of Sinatra.

McClaren further explained stating, “When we do montages like that, we like to have the music ahead of time and we play it on the set…for this scene we didn’t.” McClaren said it wasn’t until a writer suggested something by Sinatra only after hearing it on the radio on the way to the set.

Breaking Bad aired for three years before the ratings began to boost. In fact, AMC, the series’ network, want to cancel the show after two seasons but the studio kept pushing to continue. It wasn’t until season four when the series stepped into the spotlight Both McClaren and Mosko credit Netflix to its success, which also allowed the writer Vince Gilligan to buy the rights back for Breaking Bad.

They both explained how different a film or series becomes when the network isn’t acting as a middle-man. Where there’s creative freedom, the real work shines through.

Clips of McClarens’s work from The Game of Thrones, and The Deuce were also shown.

McClaren was able to give us insight on how shots with live animals and babies are directed in GOT (as most people refer to it), which are often intense. For example, the bear that Brienne of Tarth is forced to match is a real bear. In case you were wondering, the bear’s name is Bart, or rather, Little Bart, and he’s a diva from Utah.

As Chairman of Sony, Mosko hears a lot of pitches. One of those pitches was from the beloved household name, Jerry Seinfeld for Comedians in Cars getting Coffee, which had a clip shown during the panel. You may have heard of it, but rest assured, it’s not Carpool Karaoke. Seinfeld came to Mosko with a practical and simple idea which Mosko told him to run with it, which Seinfeld did and is involved with every aspect of the show.

Comedians in Cars getting Coffee airs on Crackle, which is an online network, like Netflix, Hulu or HBO, and allows for streaming anywhere, on any device, at any time. This theme of online streaming sparked many questions during the Q&A portion of the event. Chong herself asked the “Oracle Question” of where are we going in terms of how we watch films and television. Are networks soon to be history?

To answer that question, both McClaren and Mosko agreed that we are in the best era for film and television because of technology and because audiences have quality expectations. “The networks will always survive,” Mosko pointed out. “People like their Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.”

Not matter what you’re into or what your viewing habits are, there’s something for everyone.

To hear the whole conversation, check out the video below.

By Samantha Granville


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