Orphan Black Producers At SDCC

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From 2013 at SDCC – John Fawcett  and  Graeme Manson spoke to us reporters in a roundtable setting about their show Orphan Black. John also has directed several episodes in season one.

Tony Tellado: It looks like with season two, you laid a little bit of path for her. Can you tell us if some of those seeds will take root next season ?

Fawcett and Manson: We know where we’re going with our mystery in a broad and general sense. We love our cliffhangers.We love our cliffhangers at the end of episodes and we love them at the end of acts.We knew a lot of the elements to the climax of the season.We really liked putting Sarah back where we met her.She’s on the run.She hasn’t got her daughter and she has a pocket full of change.Finding Sarah there is where we pick up season two.

A big part of the focus for our main character of Sarah is getting her daughter back.Figuring out who took her, where they went and getting her back.And Sarah is going to kick ass at the beginning of season two, that’s for sure.

So we have a new clone to explore in Rachel or a new orphan as we don’t use the  “c” word.We’re really interested in that dynamic.In a lot of ways Sarah has started a war with Rachel.And we’re interested in what the heck is up with Mrs S (Maria Doyle Kennedy)

Was there a point during Season one that the show had connected and was hitting its stride.

Fawcett and Manson: We knew part way through.It was connecting with us.The things that we wanted to do were working and Tat (Tatiana Maslany ) was riveting.We realized that early in the process.

Really early,we were excited. To be honest, we had this concept.We knew that Tat was special. We knew that we felt good about  the way we cast it.But we were still nervous about making a show with a premise that relies on one actor in the same scene pulling that off to a degree that the audience,the critics and people weren;t just going to go, this is stupid.Early on we realized that it was working better than we thought was ever going to work.And I think just from the episode one, episode two press, people like you guys reviewing the show early early on,We actually got much better reviews that what we thought we were going to.

It didn’t translate to numbers right away.

We’re a small network, very small.

It took until the season finished airing that the online fan base just kept growing.The Clone Club and The Clonespians and all of the people on Tumblr

Have you seen any of the fan art.It’s crazy

And it’s super rewarding.When we saw all that stuff coming we said, “Wow, It has connected.” The things that we said in episode 2, episode 3,we said, “People might have favorite clones.”

Cause we did.

And sure enough as a testament to Tatiana that’s what happened.

Is that an added level of pressure for season two ? Or do you feel confident assuming you have ideas on where you want to go. And that if you continue where you want to go then things will fall into place.

Fawcett and Manson: I think that it’s important…This has been fantastic but I think we know..We’ve always had a plan for season two.And I feel that we have a good evil plan for season two.And we’re exicited about to get about doing it. Is there extra pressure ? Maybe yeah, a little bit because people are so keen on the show.Obviously we don’t want to let people down.We set out to make a show we loved.We wanted to be excited about.I think if we just kind of stick to that it will all go.

We constantly push each other.We constantly go, “Well, I ‘ve seen that before. Or “How do we make this better ?”We put that pressure on ourselves from the beginning. We’re both perfectionists.

But it’s also about trying to do..trying to give the audience stuff they haven’t seen before.”Have you ever seen that on television,before ? Uh Uh.” So we like that.

Never seen anyone rave dancing with a man tail..

Just the fact that he had a tail…

Ooh that. I forgot about that.

We talked about not wanting to clutter with too many clones for Tatiana obviously. My we ever seen a completely different character with clones ?

Fawcett and Manson: We certaintely thought about it.I think that at the moment the show is too new to consider.We’re just enamoured with Tat. We just love her.We have way more things that we want to do with her.Is there a possibility at some point in the future, sure.

Season Seven definitely.

It’s not like we haven’t discussed it.At the moment we’re very fixed on our new clone of Rachel for season two.Probably unveiling a new clone for season two and really challenging Tat.Seeing as much more as we can for her.

Do you feel like you’re pushing her too far with all the characters ?

Fawcett and Manson: We have to be careful.


Last season we were afraid. I was worried that we were going to kill her.It’s so hard on her.

She only got sick once.

And it was a bad sick.

She lost her voice.

You have to end up not only to ADR one character but all of them.

Episode eight she caught a cold.She burned her chin.There was this scene between her and Chad in the mini-van.They’re sharing hot cocoa and then get it own.And props had brought some hot cocoa. She spilled some on her chin and burned her chin bad enough to see it.It was this big burn on her chin.And then she caught a cold.She lost her voice for two days.She had to come in and loop all her voice work.Half of episode eight, I swear to God she replaced in the studio which is unbelievable.Not only is she incredibly gifted on set, but she can also go into an ADR room and nail it.You can’t tell that she replaced a lot of those vocals.

We didn’t ADR Cosima because that was the scene that she got super emotional with Delphine . She has a cold in that scene. We let the cold slide because it sounded gravely and emotional.

Were you able to warn Tatiana  what was coming her way ?

Fawcett and Manson: None of us realized how grueling it was going to be.

I think we knew it was going to be a lot of hard work but didn’t know how much it was going to be. I think we all were a little naïve going into it.No we sort of know better.Now in season two…Now that we have established the world and almost killed ourselves doing it,we feel like, yes we want to see new clones, yes we want to challenge Tat more.We all lover her.But we also have these great side storylines and a really cool supporting cast.I think in season two we want to let those storylines to breathe a little bit more.Let them carry the ball a little bit more. Let Jordan (Gavaris) go. Let him have a little bit more to do without a clone character.Partly so we can rest Tat.But also we love those characters.

But you’re not going to let up until we put four clones in one scene.

I directed the scene with the wine pour with three of them.It was very challenging. So now “What can we do next that will make it more”…We want to do even more.

A four clone scene would take like two days to shoot.

Did the network express concern over the content ? How has working for BBC America been different than other networks ?

Fawcett and Manson: BBC America was the only network that loved the show when no one else wanted to make Orphan Black.Our partners at Temple Street, they loved and worked tiresly to get Orphan Black made.

The deal would come together and fell apart numerous times.A long grueling process.

We went to LA and took meetings. And we would have great meetings at lots of different networks and all the different cable places.Everyone liked the script because Graeme wrote a killer script.It’s a really cool concept.No one wanted to make it.No Canadian network and American networks byt BBC Amercia came along and said that they loved the show and they wanted to make it.

“Not only do we want to make it but put it on Saturday nights after Doctor Who.”And we just looked at each other.

To their credit, they really let us, not that they’ve been hands off, but they have been very supportive.Their notes and feedback have only been helpful.It’s great when you get smart notes from the network and get notes that help make the show that you want to make.Honestly they have been supportive of Graeme and I.We’ve been the ones that have been charging ahead going, “This is what we’re going to do.”

And our Canadian network, Space have been good partners too.They’re smart and creative people too.We don’t have free reign but they are letting us go with our vision both networks.

Tony Tellado; With the revelation that the clones are patented, will the new season address their rights. Are they people ? Are they property ?

Fawcett and Manson: Thematically that’s super interesting to me. But I don’t think we’re going to see people waving signs saying Clone’s Rights.Thematically in terms of issues of agency and ownership, and the Supreme Court ruiling that you can’t patent DNA but you patent synthetic DNA.Now what does that mean ? That just shoots holes in the whole ruiling.There’s just lots of legal framework around that.So what is synthetic ? Thematically, it’s superinteresting for us but it’s also an esstential dilemma for the characters.Also part of the horror and dred of those issues.I think.It’s really interesting.

Jordan said that he will get more action and not in bed

Fawcett and Manson: No it’s going to be in bed.

Jordan just wants to get naked all the time.

Jordan is going to put on a cape and become a superhero.

No. Obvisously we love the character of Felix.He’s always been a fun hilarious character . Our whole thing in setting up the tone of Orphan Black was that we were making a clone show but it was really really important that it was fun. It was fun and not just mysterious and thrilling but it was fun and funny.You’re going to make a clone show which is absurd first of all.I think it’s important to have a good sense of humor about it.I think the fans respond to that.I can see the fans respond to that.

But I just found out that Jordan is actually a ninja.He has done years of martial arts.I had no idea. Did you know that ?


Years of martial arts.Felix the ninja.Maybe just maybe.

Science fiction fans have been able to successfully deal with different subject matter.Has there been any reaction to the things are grounded in reality on the show ? Because it’s not that far off.

Fawcett and Manson: We always knew that we didn’t want a future show.We wanted it in the here and now.

We didn’t want a clone show where you walk into the room and there’s drawers of clones in statis tubes of goo.That’s not our clone show.Ours is more rooted in the reality of where science is at and that was always important to us.

And we’re also total genre heads.We love horror and we love sci-fi and thrillers and essential weirdness.John’s a big horror dude.So taking that science to the edge of reality and not even saying that it’s five minutes into the future.But taking those concepts of science and that being your sci-fi jump off point.Just letting it a little further so “What’s really going on behind the lab door? “

I think this show is kind of a genre mash up.When Graeme and I got together, we have different sensibilities about what we like.We jokingly said that he’s more the ‘Breaking Bad’ and I’m more of the ‘Battlestar Galactica “ and we stick those two together. We both have a really good sense of humor. We wanted the show to have a good sense of humor.

We can’t help it.

We can’t take ourselves too seriously.

Was it hard to kill Cosima ?

Fawcett and Manson: Super hard. It was the plan of season one.In developing season one even before we sold the show, we knew she was going to come in.We knew what we were going to do with her.And we knew that she was going to die at the end of the season.It was difficult because by the time you get there, she’s actually a real character.She’s not just something on a piece of paper anymore.We’ve invested a lot of time in creating her.It was hard to do but that was the plan from the beginning.

I felt sorry for her but all that damage that had been done to her you knew she was beyond saving.

Fawcett and Manson: You know it’s hard to say.I’m glad that worked because that was a really important part for us.The fact that we wanted to start her as a really scary villain.Start her as essentially a serial killer.And then bend her around into this sympathetic place and actually have some fun with her in the meantime.Turn her into a character that had some comedy.And make her loving and make her sympathetic.So by the time we got to the final episode, you actually gave a shit that she died.That was part of our big evil plan.And that just speaks to mad skills of Tatiana because she was the one that made you love her.

Special thanks to BBC America




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