Solos is a marked departure from David Weil’s first Amazon Prime TV series. The writer-director’s previous production for the streamer, The Hunters with Al Pacino, was a violent, revisionist version of the Nazi hunt in 1970s America.
Solos, on the other hand, is a tender, modern exploration of what it means to be human and the universal connections we share. Presented as a dramatic anthology series, Solos follows seven individual stories that explore the wonderful, heartbreaking and humorous aspects of what makes us human, albeit from a sci-fi perspective.
Ahead of Solos’ launch on May 21, TechRadar sat down with Weil to discuss why Solos is the thematically relevant TV show viewers need right now. We also found out what inspired the series and how Solos’ stories were enhanced by its star cast.
The world we live in
The idea for Solos’ short story collection, while containing a loose narrative throughout, Weil explains, stems from his memories of family members sharing emotional stories with him.
“I fell in love with storytelling thanks to my grandmother telling a story around her kitchen table,” he says. “Or my brother telling me a ghost story while we were camping in Massachusetts. They were the kind of stories told by one person in the same environment. Because of the pandemic, I have felt, like many of us, loneliness and loneliness and, on that basis, a desire for connection and hope. These two ideas merged and became Solos.
This ‘one person, one environment’ approach to storytelling is evident in the separate Solos accounts.
Set in the present or the near future, each tale examines universal themes such as belonging, fear of the unknown, aiming and death through a science fiction lens. Topics such as time travel, space exploration, and cloning serve as the basis for the plot of each episode, while providing a distinctive aesthetic to the environments in their history.
Finding the right production designer to bring each episode to life was therefore vital. The pitches had to be hot or cold, inhabited or new, well lit or dark, and natural or made according to the main idea of their installation. Advance Ruth Ammon, whose work on other anthology productions including Dirty John has spawned each of Solos’ unique locations.
“When Ruth and I discussed what each environment needed, we knew they had to tell their own stories,” Weil says. “I love sets that are incredibly dense, where there are so many stories that populate them, that they really tell the story of a life well lived. So for the story about Sasha [starring Orange is the New Black’s Uzo Aduba], it was really important that you could feel the different pockets of his house. “Where was his sofa?” Or “Where did she erect that wall five years ago?”, So that each part of that set told the story and the evolution of life in this fictional house.
From stage to screen
Aduba is far from the only recognizable name in the stellar cast of Solos. Legendary actors Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren, as well as Anthony Mackie from the MCU and Anne Hathaway from Interstellar, are also the star of the series – and Weil still struggles to understand working with such esteemed talent.
“It’s a dream come true,” he explains. “It’s very surreal for me to look at the amazing actors we have on board and say ‘Oh my God, they say the words that I wrote’. All of them bring their humanity to Solos, so it was a pleasure to hear that they were interested in doing something as challenging and unique as this one.
The challenge Weil refers to is based on the format of the show. His final episode aside, which features Freeman’s Dan Stevens and Downton Abbey, Solos’ individual tales feature a single actor. Some stories, like Hathaway’s, require their actor to take on the roles of multiple characters, but they’re still the only star on screen.
For Weil, this creative decision arose not only from the series title, but from his desire to use an often underused literary device – the monologue, which has its roots in ancient Greece and Italy – as engine of each episode.
“I’ve always liked monologues,” Weil said to himself. “But you never really get the opportunity to do a 15 to 30 page unbroken story with one person in one room. I’ve wanted to explore the possibility of doing this for a long time, whether through film or television, so having our amazing writers and actors bring all of themselves and their humanity to Solos was a joy.
The ties that unite
The premise of Solos is one that is currently striking near his home. The Covid-19 pandemic has led millions of people to feel isolated from their family and friends for more than a year, to lose loved ones and to struggle to make ends meet. It is therefore not surprising that scientists are predicting a mental health time bomb as a result of the pandemic as people begin or continue to notice a deterioration in their mental well-being.
Weil, whose marriage has been postponed due to the pandemic, says creating Solos was his cathartic way of handling the current situation, but understands that some people don’t have the luxury of channeling their energies into creative endeavors. In these cases, he believes people should seek professional help if they are having mental difficulties.
Weil, however, believes audiences will gain some solace from Solos. Despite its fictional tales, he hopes the series, as a whole, serves as a reminder of the universal connections we share as humans and, ultimately, who and what are the most important people and things in our lives. lives.
“The solos have become those love letters to different human experiences,” he said. “I started writing them as a way to connect with my family in New York [amid the pandemic], which I had not seen for months. I hope people give themselves 30 minutes to walk each ride and, in the end, reflect on their own life and relationships. After the year has passed, I think people are more in tune with their feelings, so I think they’re ready for a very human experience like Solos.
Solos will launch exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, May 21.