Stories behind some of the weird things about 'Severance'

It’s hard not to notice the elements of Apple+’s “Severance” series: bulky old computers; chinese finger traps mocking modern office in...


It’s hard not to notice the elements of Apple+’s “Severance” series: bulky old computers; chinese finger traps mocking modern office incentives; phones that are, for oncenot iPhones.

“We do our job if you don’t notice it,” Catherine Miller, the show’s prop guy, said in a phone interview last week. “We do our job well if you just follow the story and attach yourself to the story itself.”

But Ms. Miller has a knack for identifying unforgettably weird objects that help build worlds on screen. (In a past life, she was a professional dancer.) She worked on productions such as “Uncut Gems” (the Dazzling Furby was his creation), “Russian Doll” and the upcoming FX limited series “Retreat,” all bound together by the sense of foreboding they inspire.

“Severance,” similarly, centers on a mysterious company called Lumon, where some employees have undergone elective brain surgery to separate their jobs from who they are off the clock. Most of the show takes place within Lumon’s Macrodata Refinement department, where Mark (Adam Scott), Irving (John Turturro), Dylan (Zach Cherry), and Helly (Britt Lower) spend their days crunching numbers.” scary” on vintage monitors for unknown reasons. for them.

Lumon’s brightly lit mid-century office provides an eerie contrast to the dreary outside world. And the objects it contains – including branded pens and erasers, as well as crystal cubes laser-etched with the faces of employees – underscore the trap that “separated” workers begin to feel when they discover the obscure business practices.

“We wanted this world to be slightly quirky — not fake, slightly quirky,” Ms. Miller said. Here, she explains her process for sourcing and making some of these items.

At the center of Macrodata Refinement’s available workspace is a diamond-shaped desk that cost more than $100,000 to manufacture. Ms. Miller provided the hardware and the footprint seen above.

To find a vintage computer that would suit the office aesthetic, she drove from her New Jersey home to the Rhode Island Computer Museum to browse her warehouse. She returned with 13 monitors, including a Commodore and the original Apple Macintosh, to show the team, including Dan Erickson, the show’s creator, and Ben Stiller, an executive producer.

“Ben turned to the Data General Dasher, which is lower and lower than a monitor and terminal and has swivel capability,” Miller said.

His team had to make four replicas of the computer and wire up the monitors so they could display images. The accompanying keyboards feature an Easter egg that Ms Miller says has become “Reddit tradition”.

“The keyboard doesn’t have an escape key on purpose because the people there on the cut floor can never escape,” she said. “It’s about unconsciously creating and sustaining the world in which our story lives.”

Lumon employees receive rewards when they complete tasks with the highest honors. Among these advantages is a blue Chinese finger trap bearing the company logo.

Ms Miller said the finger traps were Mr Erickson’s idea and he had come up with them in ‘MDR blue’. But it was difficult for Ms Miller to find a version in a solid color (most are woven in two-tone materials), so a member of her team learned how to make them from scratch on YouTube.

“We bought a bunch of different types, we dyed the material that color,” Ms. Miller said. “She cut up the material to strip the perfect size dowel to wrap and braid a finger trap, and just for days she was making finger traps.”

One of the incentives Mark earns in the series is a crystal cube on a rotating base with his face carved into it, made by Ms. Miller. The initial design was made from a photo of Adam Scott that she pulled from the internet.

“It was just a sample as we needed to get our own photo generated for copyright reasons,” she said. “We came to one of my first meetings, I just put her in the middle of the table. I turned it on, started the rotating base and everyone was like, ‘That’s it, let’s go.’ »

At the end of production, Mr. Stiller presented each of the department heads with their own personalized cube as a wrapping gift.

“It’s very cool,” Ms. Miller said. “I keep mine on my dresser.”

In the show, a hilarious and serious self-help book titled “The You You Are,” written by Mark’s brother-in-law, Ricken (Michael Chernus), becomes sacred text for Macrodata Refinement employees.

Mr. Erickson actually wrote 80 pages of it. The team wanted a real book to work with, Ms. Miller said, rather than a few pages stuck inside another hardcover.

“If someone read it, wanted to stop the image and zoom in, it was actually real,” she said. Hudson River Bindery in Newburgh, NY brought it all together.

The team drew on several real books for inspiration, including “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health” by L. Ron Hubbard, which laid the foundations of Scientology, and self-help titles of Tony Robbins, whose face often appears on his books. blankets.

When the segregated floor employees find Ricken’s book, “it really is the spark of a revolution,” Ms Miller said.

“It’s about unconsciously creating and sustaining the world in which our story lives.“, she added. “That’s what we try to do with our accessories.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Stories behind some of the weird things about 'Severance'
Stories behind some of the weird things about 'Severance'
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