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OK, So About That Single-Take Episode of 'Mr. Robot'...

"It doesn't happen frequently, but over the years, TV has sometimes shown flashes of creativity and ambition like this."11/14/2017 2:00 PM Eastern
Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson in 'Mr. Robot' 'eps3.4_runtime-error.r00,' photo by Michael Parmelee/USA Network
How Mr. Robot Pulled Off Its Insane Long-Take Episode

How Did Mr. Robot Pull Off That Audacious Single-Take Episode?

Mr. Robot Outdoes Itself With "Single-Take" Episode

The "Runtime Error" episode of Mr. Robot uses "a style that simulates a single long take," writes Kevin P. Sullivan. "Creator and director Sam Esmail and his crew made a breathless experience unlike anything on TV in recent years.

"With the scripted action split between sets in Brooklyn and locations in Manhattan, a true one-take hour was impossible, but challenging Orson Welles' Touch of Evil for the best long take ever wasn't Esmail's intention," Sullivan explains. "'The conversation of oners could easily fall into gimmickry and showmanship,' Esmail says. 'For me, tone was the priority.'

"With the help of a stabilizing arm called a Trinity, cinematographer Tod Campbell and camera operator Aaron Medick pulled off the floating shots in and out of Evil Corp, following Elliot (Rami Malek) and then Angela (Portia Doubleday).

"For the actors, the episode format meant nailing their marks and timed cues. Doubleday recalls having to sometimes match 15 separate cues within a take, with certain shots going for upwards of 27 takes." To read the full article, click here



"I remembered loving Rope, but loving it for the camerawork," Esmail tells Alan Sepinwall.  "And I do love a long take because of the visceral experience. The Copacabana shot from Goodfellas being an example of one, or Boogie Nights—a lot of P.T. Anderson's shots have this sweep-you-off-your-feet energy when he engages you in this long take. But it really is dictated by the story.

"Sometimes, it can come off as very gimmicky. With the advent of digital technology, where you don’t have to do breaks for film reels, a lot of people want to do a whole film as a oner. It started to be more about the gimmick than about how it viscerally gets you into the story. I was obviously in awe of when the masters did it right, and a little bit more turned off by the people who turned it into a gimmick.



"I will say that I did not know that this had happened, so I had to go back and watch it: The X-Files did one. I only went back and watched it after I filmed this episode. I thought it worked great. I loved it. I thought it was great, especially when they're in two different timelines, and two Gillian Andersons are walking down the same hallway. In an example like that, that to me was riveting and amazing. But I felt like it was right for the story, but I wasn't all about the gimmick of pulling it off for a TV show, or anything like that." To read the full interview, click here

"The best thing about the episode is that the single-take gambit did not play like a gimmick," says Adam Buckman. "It was, in fact, a very effective way to tell the episode's story.

"It doesn't happen frequently, but over the years, TV has sometimes shown flashes of creativity and ambition like this. When it happens, it is great to see—and worth pointing out too." To read the full article, click here
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