David Weil on ‘Solos’: A Story About the Desire for Human Connection
“Hunters” creator says miniseries are love letter to connection and affirmation of humanity
Futuristic anthology, Solo, features seven actors telling their stories. Speaking from Los Angeles, creator David Weil says, âI’ve always wanted to create a series that transported me to the days when I first fell in love with stories and storytellers. The best storytellers I know were members of my family. My grandmother used to tell me stories around her kitchen table over a bowl of chicken soup. My older brothers told me terrifying ghost stories when we went hiking and camping in the mountains when we were young.
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Weil, who also created the alternative history show, Hunters, wanted to transport an audience in this feeling. âI was fascinated by the idea of ââan actor in a play telling a unique story and by the possibilities that this story can offer to an audience. I wrote this article last May during the height of the pandemic in the United States. It’s a story about the desire for human connection.
Desire and loneliness
Having not seen his family for 10 months, Weil couldn’t wait to be back with them. âI saw elements of my mother in Peg (Helen Mirrren) and my father and brother in Tom (Anthony Mackie), which was a love letter to connection and an affirmation of humanity.
Solo, Weil says it’s loneliness. âThis is also the antidote. We can fight isolation and loneliness through love and human connection. Each of these characters is alone in different ways and within these stories each of them seeks connection. Whether that means understanding, a hug like in the Morgan Freeman-Dan Stevens episode, justice for a wrong, or if that’s the truth for Sasha, who is trying to figure out if the Smart Home, played by Jack Quaid, is here for have it or help it.
There is always hope
Weil hopes the show talks about the isolation and loneliness experienced over the past year and a half. âI hope the audience thinks it’s normal to feel that way. The characters go through similar trials and tribulations. Seeing a character go through these feelings and try to come out the other side not only justifies people’s feelings, but also shows that there is hope, a light at the end of the tunnel.
Loneliness, at times, feels like a choice, Weil says, while loneliness is a desire. Audiences should feel like the actor was speaking directly to them, Weil comments. “They should feel like they’re in a room with Helen Mirren or Anthony Mackie hearing their story. I like to create that relationship between the audience and the performer. Not wishing to play favorites, Weil says:” Tom is the first song I wrote, and it will always hold a special place for me. “
The best serves the tale
Speaking about the half-hour duration of each episode, Weil says, âA monologue is a unique form of storytelling. I always think to myself, what is the length of time that best serves my stories, whether it’s a movie, series or limited series? I start to write, and I see where it takes me. For Solo, they ended up around 30 to 40 pages, so it became half-hour episodes.
The ensemble cast which includes Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman were excited about the challenge of the camera on them for 30 minutes, according to Weil. âAnthony Mackie trained at the Juilliard School in New York. He was so excited about it. He saw his role – playing Tom and a robot Tom, with no visual effects or action sequences as a challenge.
The title, Weil says, refers to each of the episodes which are solos in an opera or a theater. âHe is an interpreter, who interprets a singular piece. There is also another meaning, which is why there is an “S” at the end of the title. These characters are alone, but they are also together in shared solitude. They’re connected, and the Morgan Freeman-Dan Stevens episode is about that loose connection. “
The achievement was wonderful and a huge challenge, says Weil. âSince each episode was focused on an actor, without cutting out different scenes, we had to create dynamism within each of those performances to ensure that an audience was enthralled. For the Sasha episode, I was pretty dynamic with the camera. We had a lot of different compositions, angles, purposes and styles. For Peg, whom Sam Taylor-Johnson directed, the camera was tricky. It was almost a ballet between Helen Mirren and the camera. Each piece required a different visual language and style, and the directing process was exhausting and thrilling. “
Time after time
Weil says there was a clear timeline for the month, for each episode. âThe reason I didn’t want to assign a year to each episode is because they’re futuristic tales. I want the audience to feel a connection with them. I want it to be timeless; as if it could happen at any time in the future, whether it be five minutes or 50 years from now.
Despite all his meditation on the human condition, Solos has an underlying common thread of humor. âHumor is a necessary antidote. There is a lot of horror and humor in our lives, as well as hopes, dreams, fears, ailments and sadness. I wanted each piece to be effortlessly human and incredibly real. Humor is often a great relief. It is the yin to the yang of introspection.
Shooting in the pandemic
It was incredibly difficult to shoot during the pandemic, Weil admits. âPart of the design of this show was that we could do it safely with an actor in one place. Not only has this series been informed by the feelings, emotions and fears that so many of us had back then and continue to experience, I also designed the production to accommodate these cast and crew, so that we can be safe on the set.
The second season of Hunters will go into production soon. âI am in the process of finishing the final script. It has been thrilling to go from a series with one actor in each episode to a series with dozens of actors and huge sets. “
It was easy to make the switch, says Weil. âIt’s like flexing different creative muscles. Solo allowed me to distill a story to its bare essence. Both Hunters and Solo are unique and daring forms of storytelling. They might not be for everyone, but I think people who see the innovation and the emotion behind each of them will respond.
Solos is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video