film + tv

"I'm here."

So the title of my first post is also the last line from The Leftovers. I know like two other people who watch the show so let me just use this space to talk about one of the best shows no one watched and talk about some design stuff I did in Shillington in hopes that anyone reading this will give the show a chance. There be slight spoilers though!

I first heard about the show back in 2013 when news of a new Damon Lindelof show came out. I'm a huge Lost fan (I can live with that ending) and the fact that he was doing his follow-up with HBO was cause for excitement. I read that it was based on a book by Tom Perrotta and the idea of the world after an unexplained event called the Sudden Departure where 2% of the population just vanish was intriguing enough to keep me interested in the project. I don't read books but I was in New York at that time and everyone on the subway was reading books and I didn't want to feel left out so I bought the book. It took me about a month to finish (just because I'm a slow reader) but I really got into it. It was sad and mysterious and human and real and fucking weird. I contemplated using it for a book cover project we had at school that time but I didn't finish reading by the time the project was due.

The James Blake trailer

In 2014, HBO started releasing trailers using James Blake's Retrograde and I was like "Oooohhh ssssshiiiiittttt, this is gonna be so good". Then Peter Berg's name came out and I was like "Oh." So anyway, the show finally premiered and it was OK. Good, not great. I liked the cast, the filmmaking was fine, there were spurts of unexpected violence but the show didn't really blow me away.

Around September of that year I was in LA and scored a ticket to see Conan. You don't know who the guest is until like a day before and and to my surprise it was Justin Theroux. He was there to promote the season finale and he was a really game and charming guest. At that time people were talking about his junk in those jogging scenes so of course Conan brings that up. The finale aired the Sunday after and it ended where the book ended so OK, that was that.

A year later Season 2 came out. I saw a trailer and the poster but I wasn't all that excited for it. I knew I'd watch the show again at some point but there was no urgency for me. But then week by week all these blogs I follow were raving about each episode and I was like "Are they actually talking about the same show?" So I watched all the first 5 episodes in one sitting and was blown away. Finally, it was the show I wanted it to be. The first episode of Season 2 alone was probably better than the entirety of Season 1. Justin Theroux and Carrie Coon became beasts this season, the mystery was so much more compelling, the moved to a new location and it stopped taking itself too seriously. Then they did the episode "International Assassin" which was basically set in some purgatory type hotel and fuck was that genius. And another episode centered on Liv Tyler's character Meg that might be some of her best work. The finale had Kevin dying for a second time and having to sing Homeward Bound in a karaoke bar in the afterlife just so he could come back to life again. That sounds like a shit idea but they pulled it off.

This scene should've won Justin Theroux an Emmy

The season ended with no word of renewal from HBO so everyone (even Lindelof) assumed it was the series finale. It worked on that level so I was satisfied fan. But HBO wasn't done with it yet and gave it a renewal for a third and final season so great! More stories from these people I wouldn't mind seeing.

Earlier this year I moved to Melbourne for a few months to do a short graphic design course at Shillington. Around the same time, the posters and trailers for Season 3 came out and it looks like there was another shift in direction for the show. It took place a few years later and WHAT! THEY MOVED TO MELBOURNE! A bulk of the show was set in the city I'm currently in, shot in places I see everyday. That was pretty cool. 

At around the same time we had to do a project at school that required us to do something handmade for a film, album, or TV series. I missed the chance to do the book cover before so I thought it would be fitting to do the series this time.

My initial moodboard for the handmade project

My initial moodboard for the handmade project

At first I had the idea of dropping a cake and using candle letters to spell out The Leftovers on the floor as if the person carrying it just vanished. I was kind of into it but it really bugged me that every time I'd tell someone my idea, the connection they'd make was "food = leftovers." So I had to go back and figure out another direction. I rewatched some episodes and thought the idea of erasing people from photos was really interesting. It's a device they used in Season 1 when members of the cult Guilty Remnant broke into houses and stole pictures and then again in the new Season 2 opening credits. A quick search on YouTube showed me ways of how to erase parts of images using some gel medium and bleach. OK, that could work. Luckily, there were a bunch of flea markets going on that week so sourcing for found images wasn't as hard as I expected.

My stash of found images from Camberwell

My stash of found images from Camberwell

My backup plan if my original idea didn't work

The idea for the poster was to document the image getting soaked in bleach in steps to show the gradual disappearance of people. I had two images I really wanted to work with, a bunch of kids in gym class and a massive group picture of a group at a camel race. I made an option for a backup where I painted the letters of the title on images and erased the rest of them. While waiting for the shoot setup I dumped all the test images on the table and formed a collage and it looked kinda cool as well. It had a Little Rascals treehouse feel though which wasn't in line with the vibe I was going for. So we shot the images and the bleaching process and it worked! Later on during portfolio week, I fleshed the pieces out more, printed out the title type package, sand papered them to give it texture and made some gifs. Here's two versions, a teaser poster and a final one.

Yesterday the series ended with one of the most perfect finales ever. I mean Season 3 was fucking nuts. There was lion-themed boat orgy, a machine that sends you to another earth, a naked guy running through a submarine to set off a nuke, two Justin Therouxs trying to kill each other, a Wu-Tang clan tattoo, a penis scanner and whatnot. The finale though was something else. It ended with a love story. I never even realized that at its core, this show was a love story between two really really fucked up people. It was so simple but it felt right. There's even a scene that reminded me of The Notebook's "I wrote you everyday for seven years!" (The multiple think pieces online are also comparing this to The Constant from Lost which is one of its best episodes). Again, the two leads just acted the shit out of this episode. They should both get Emmys for that last scene alone. It's also been great reading interviews with Lindelof and the cast, a full profile on how the show filmed its last episode on Vulture and the overwhelming response of people calling it a masterpiece. Finally, Lindelof stuck the landing.

Phew, that felt like a long read but whatever, I loved this show and I have the time. If you made it this far please give the show a chance (it's only 28 episodes long and there are guides out there for if you wanna skip the first season!). I mean don't you wanna know the story behind this gif?!