Right now, I’m so interested in architecture and fashion and design from the standpoint of new technologies, like 3D printing, and new concerns like environmental conservatism and how to be more intelligent about using resources. I think that the whole world is going to have to focus on some of these issues as a natural part of human evolution and it will necessarily lead to new innovation. So we’re just kind of all hypothesizing based on the same data.
Nolan: Fiction is humanity talking to itself and postulating about its own future. That feedback loop is hopefully a virtuous one, although most futurism seems to be dystopian. I don’t know what that means. Nothing good, I would imagine. But I think it’s us having a conversation with ourselves about where we want to go as a civilization, as individuals, technologically and culturally.
I try not to put too much emphasis or too much importance on what we do, but I think it is fascinating to be part of that conversation.
There is a bit in the show where Flynne’s contact in the future sends the formula for a 3D-printed drug that helps her mother, and it seems really mind-blowing, but there are researchers looking into how to 3D-print organs and all of that. It’s all theoretically within the realm of possibility.
Joy: When I started my career on a show called Pushing Daisies, we were already talking about 3D printed meat. So many years later, that’s still a part of the conversation and a part of futurism, probably because it’s possible.
We’re all just looking at the same thing and studying it together. Part of being a writer is keeping your ear to the ground, watching and observing, and letting what’s happening in the world present itself to you.
Lastly, there’s a lot of new tech for the series, including these massive air cleaners in London and this crazy sort of sonic gun. How did you imagine those, and who did you work with to make them a reality?
Nolan: We were fortunate here to work with Jan Roelfs and Jay Worth, our longtime visual effects partners in crime with whom we’ve had a very long and fun relationship imagining how you would bring these things to life. And then with them came an army of artists, designers, and VFX artists trying to figure these things out.
Honestly, that’s the fun bit. Shortly after bringing us the book, Vincenzo got with a series of graphic artists and developed sort of a lookbook and a set of ideas for how the series could work, which included a visual idea that then informed the narrative of the carbon sequestration towers, which are the giant sculptural towers evident in a lot of the shows. The idea behind those is that the carbon sequestration tower is using the captured carbon to create art on a grand civic scale.
Those sorts of ideas are informed in part by the narrative and in part by, “Here’s a beautiful visual idea.” Why would you have this monumental giga-size sculpture in London? Once you come up with the answer underneath it, that sort of binds it all together.
I think those towers are one of the most graceful and beautiful touches in this series, and that idea emerged at the intersection of artists, writers, directors, and production designers all thinking together about what our cities are going to look like in a few generations.
That’s the absolute most fun part of working on the series for me, really. I mean, obviously the ideas, the characters, the themes, but I love getting to be futurists with an infinite R&D budget. Whatever nonsense the team can dream up we can implement immediately. Then, as creators, we just have to start to run the experiment about what all of it does culturally and societally.