If you wondered why Season 2 of HBO’s award-winning series “Big Little Lies” felt so choppy, you weren’t alone.
IndieWire reports that after Andrea Arnold (whose films include “American Honey” and “Fish Tank”), was hired to direct the season, she was given free rein and no style guidelines.
And then executive producer Jean-Marc Vallée, who had directed the first season, took over and radically edited what she had shot, then ordered 17 days of closely monitored reshoots.
According to a number of sources close to the production, there was a dramatic shift in late 2018 as the show was yanked away from Arnold, and creative control was handed over to executive producer and Season 1 director Jean-Marc Vallée. The goal was to unify the visual style of Season 1 and 2. In other words, after all the episodes had been shot, take Arnold’s work and make it look and feel like the familiar style Vallée brought to the hit first season, which won eight of the 16 Emmys it was nominated for in 2017, including Outstanding Limited Series.
Vallée, who was busy shooting “Sharp Objects,” apparently thought Arnold’s style was close enough to his that it wasn’t necessary to give her any notes about the “visual rules” of the show, which is a common practice for TV series that uses different filmmaking teams.
As Vallée, told IndieWire last year, “We have similar ways of shooting, when you look at it. She shot handheld, available light. She aims for performances, like I [did] in Season 1. She is who she is, but the spirit of the other is there.”
According to IndieWire, “the creative team… believed that Vallée and his Season 1 team could easily shape [Arnold’s work] into the show’s distinctive style in post-production.”
Vallée and Arnold reportedly never spoke during production, so she had no idea he was going to come in and take over.
Arnold chose not to speak to IndieWire, but is reportedly “heartbroken” about having shot and edited her own version of the show and “then have it taken from her, without explanation or warning.”
HBO issued the following statement:
There wouldn’t be a Season 2 of ‘Big Little Lies’ without Andrea Arnold. We at HBO and the producers are extremely proud of her work. As with any television project, the executive producers work collaboratively on the series and we think the final product speaks for itself.
Fans on social media are now asking for HBO to “release the Arnold cut.”
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