Contrary to the belief of some, social distancing rules apply to everyone, and that includes fictional characters. Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet shows its heroes in lockdown, as the Apple TV+ show delivers a special quarantine episode.
“Far more than a tide-you-over tidbit, the quarantine episode of Mythic Quest is a seamless continuation for fans, a great jumping-off point for potential converts, and a pitch-perfect encapsulation of what it’s like to live through this moment,” writes Joe Berkowitz.
Set in a video game development studio, the sitcom was shut down in March, leaving its cast and crew feeling restless. The show’s creator Rob McElhenney ordered 40 iPhones and 20 sets of earbuds so the team could produce Mythic Quest: Quarantine from their own homes. “This was a Monday, and I said, ‘If we have them by Friday, I think we could pull this off. Is that possible?'” McElhenney tells The Hollywood Reporter.
The episode was ready to air three weeks later. “It forced everybody to get into the minutiae of their cameras, of their lenses, of the applications, of the sound quality, frame rate, all sorts of things that, as an actor, you’re not necessarily thinking about,” he continues. “Each actor had three iPhones, and we’d shoot one iPhone at a time. As soon as a scene was wrapped, the phone would be sterilized, packaged, put in a secure area, picked up [by a courier] and brought to editorial, sterilized again, and then the footage would be uploaded to the Avid for the editors, who were working from their homes.”
The special culminates with what Collider calls a “beautifully executed 12-part Rube Goldberg stunt” that McElhenney describes as one of the most challenging yet satisfying sequences he’s ever been a part of. “We had this idea of connecting the boxes all together and demonstrating how we are all connected in some way, shape or form, and that each individual person is responsible for his or her own actions, and then how it would affect the group,” he explains.
The production designer, special effects house and prop department built the relevant machines along with videos on how to operate them, then boxed them up and left them in secure areas for the actors to sterilize and use. “Each one of those boxes is in each individual actor’s house and they’re operating the camera,” McElhenney says in Collider. “So I was able to essentially be on a Zoom call with the rest of the crew and my A.D. team and everybody. And we would just bounce from house to house, to house, to house, to house, and people would sign in and sign out and sign in and sign out. And then we would just go through and rip through it in order. Once you were up and running, the actual shooting of it was not that difficult. It was all the prep work that led up to it.”
Another scene sees two characters hugging, executed using a body double for social distancing reasons. “That was her hugging her husband,” notes McElhenney. “I was the only person out of the entire cast that ever left their house. And when I say I left my house, I went onto my street. So when you see me at night there, that’s me walking on my street. And then I wind up going into my own garage. And then we cut the camera and we pick up [Nicdao’s husband’s] camera, and he is now standing in the doorway.” To read the full article, click here.
“Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” also has a charity angle, both in-show and in real life; the team raised $300,000 for Mercy Corps’ COVID-19 relief fund, which is integrated into the story. “As we came up with the conceit of the company donating money, then I thought, ‘Wow this would be really cool if we could figure out a way in which we as a show were doing the same,’” McElhenney remarks in an interview with Variety. “The organization is a global one that is doing some of the best work out there for those affected by this pandemic. What we’re hoping is that we can raise awareness for this incredible organization.
“But we also want to be very respectful of our audience who has been asked to give and give and give and give,” he continues. “And they have responded, and I know because I’ve run a couple of fundraisers over the course of the last three or four months and people continue to give and I know that people can’t afford to give. Of course I want people, if they can, to continue to give, but I also feel like I don’t want to ask anyone for anything else anymore. The audience has had it rough and they’re going to have a rough couple of maybe years. So this is just something we’re putting out in the world and if you can give, great, but we just hope you enjoy the show.” To read the full interview, click here.