John Singleton's Snowfall is set for Season 2 while in Mid-Season
Written By: Dr. Allison Mathews
Photography: Allison Mathews Photography
Editor's Note: The Lux Blog was in attendance at the red carpet premiere and rave reviews are in for the hit show Snowfall. Check-out Allison's press experience and thoughts on Season 1 so far.
Watch Snowfall on FX Wednesdays at 10pm/EST.
On June 30, I was able to photograph and attend the premiere of Snowfall on FX in my hometown of Dallas, TX on behalf of The Lux Blog NC! It was so exciting to be able to hear firsthand from John Singleton, Executive Producer of the show, and the actors about their perspectives and experiences with the show. This summer, many watched Snowfall in anticipation for the way John Singleton, Dave Andron, and Eric Amadio would deliver hard hitting depiction of the development of the crack epidemic in South Central LA. Not only did they deliver, but they did so in a way that many audiences often beg other shows to do so because they portrayed the characters, Black, White, and Hispanic, in humanistic and realistic ways. They used the tools that were available to them, from lesser known soul and hip hop music tracks to drone cinematography and authentic wardrobes that reflect the 80s, to make this a show to remember and hopefully return for subsequent seasons. Here are some of the highlights from the panel discussion with John Singleton, Dave Andron and the actors of Snowfall following the premiere as a part of the annual MegaFest Conference.
The portrayal of women in this show are pretty badass. Do you think the portrayal of women in this show will have an impact on viewers?
Michael Hyatt: I hope that women will see themselves in the stories that we tell here, which I don’t know that the industry gives us the opportunity to do, whether we’re in the shows or not. My hope is that I really represent my sisters, mothers and aunts in telling their stories as truthfully as possible. I think based on the writing that is done effortlessly.
DJ Hollywood BayBay (K104FM): Angela, do you represent your sisters in this show?
Angela Lewis: Yes. I absolutely do!
DJ Hollywood BayBay (K104FM): Oh that’s right. You’re from Detroit, right?
Angela Lewis: Yeah, I think what I’m excited about is being able to put out there for everyone to see and feel that no matter if the character is badass or not that there is complexity because we are humans, complex. We have our badass moments and we have our moments where we’re down and almost knocked out. So if I can tell a story and have you be able to relate to all the things that Louie is going through then I’ve done my job. I think the writers make that pretty easy.
DJ Poison Ivy (K104FM): From the DJ perspective, how important was the musical element to the scoring of this show?
John Singleton: It’s very important because music sets the mode, the time and space, the rhythm of the whole piece. If you look at all of the music cues, it’s organic to the story itself. It takes you even further into it. There’s some good stuff in there from Donny Hathaway’s “The Ghetto,” you cross cut through all the characters and see them going through the motions. I love the Harlem Notes tune, “Maneater,” when they’re in the pool, it’s in the valley. It sets that time, the place, the mood. It’s nothing like that when you can really do it in a great piece of work. That’s something that we really pay close attention to.
Dave Andron: Our music supervisor is Maggie Philips. She did the music for Moonlight. She’s amazing. she really went and found stuff that was a little more obscure but still spoke to the time period right before hip hop landed on the West Coast. We’re still dealing with funk and the remnants of that disco era. There’s some really cool finds in there.
Dinesha Dilane: I’m from the Bay Area. I live in Berkeley. When you think about the crack epidemic and you think about Oakland, what are the similarities that came up for you in creating this series and will we continue to see similarities between multiple cities as we watch every episode?
John Singleton: This is all LA-based but the Bay does play a part. Keep watching!
Woman from audience: Dave, I know you co-created with John Singleton. Did you pull from personal experience? How were you able to create this Snowfall Series?
Dave Andron: The initial idea was from John and Eric Amadio. FX brought me in after Justified. Coming on to it, John knows the South Central world so thoroughly. Frankly, from my point of view, that part of the story was pretty well baked. It was really the CIA world and the East LA world, when I came on, those parts of the scripts did seem to have the same level of detail and authenticity. I came into it and started working on those. I did grow up in LA in the 80s, so it’s not a world that’s foreign to me. I didn’t grow up in South Central. I like that we complemented each other really nicely.
Charles Jean-Pierre: First of all I loved it. It felt like a movie. I saw the marketing for this and my concern was that it almost looks like a video game. Can you talk about the marketing and how you decided to go with this imagery because it didn’t necessarily coincide with what I saw with the pilot, which was really good.
John Singleton: I never thought about that! You think the packing looks like Grand Theft Auto? Well that’s a good thing then! We really deferred to the FX marketing. You see what they did with Atlanta last summer. They did some really innovative clips for marketing. they had them walking backwards. Stuff I never thought about.
Dave Andron: It was a summer show and they wanted something that was going to pop visually. You’re right, it does feel maybe a little softer than when you get in the series. I’m glad the series has that grit to it.
John Singleton: But I think with marketing, you can’t sell something that is very hard hitting. You gotta flirt with the audience and get them into it and excited about it. So the colors, they’re visually trying to draw you in to want to watch the show and talk about it. So when you get into it, you’re like, “Woah, this is even better than I thought.”
Another woman in audience asked, “One of the things I thought about socially is how in the 1980s, the main drug was crack and it was a War on Drugs. Now that the victims are White and the drug is heroine, it’s a public health crisis. Did you consider the rebranding of the same thing when you were developing this or will we even see that?”
John Singleton: No. This is all 80s. We know what happened. Even more cocaine and crack, there was heroine. Everyone knows that with heroine, there was a concerted effort to flood the streets of Black America and progressive liberal White movements of the late 60s with heroine to call down the Black empowerment movement and the anti-war movement of the late 60s. 10 years after that, you have what’s known as the crack epidemic. Heroine didn’t do what crack did. Crack was the only drug that was able to make Black women leave their children. Slavery wasn’t able to do that in some ways. So this is kind ofa prelude to a war that happened within these various communities. Raise your hand if you know somebody that was adversely affected by crack — either using crack or went to jail or whatever. Everybody raise their hand. (the majority of the crowd raises their hand). I do this in every city. This is really a person thing to me. Yes, the show is fun and it’s interesting, but it’s very emotional too. It’s emotional even more so for people who have been affected by this. That’s why it’s important to get on television because when we do these White and Latina stories, you have to have an audience that can emotionally identify with it on a whole other level. People in this room and around the country are going to — for the new generation and some people, this will be like ‘Woah. I didn’t know all this was happening.’ But another generation will be like, I lived through that. I survived that.
Dr. Allison Mathews: Hi I’m representing The Lux Blog NC and the organization called 2BeatHIV at the HIV Cure Center in Chapel Hill, NC. I was curious about this whole discussion about the spread of heroine and crack epidemic and how that is directly tied to the spread of disease and specifically HIV. How do you think that this show could speak to or what kind of message do you think could speak the spread of disease, but also that tie to oppression and putting drugs into the community? What kind of message do you see coming from Snowfall?
John Singleton: That’s the residual effect of entertainment. The show, of course if you know my work, I have deep issues that I deal with in every story that have an undercurrent of it. That’s the other side of it. When we have the opportunity to go further into more seasons, we hope the show is successful, you will see the decimation of the community. You will see different characters and what they go through and you will be part and parcel to everything that you’re describing right now. That’s how we’ll deal with that. We’ll deal with you having a personal identification with characters that you’ll see them go through things you’ve heard about and some of the things that you’ve seen other people in your family go through, including usage and being jailed.
Dave Andron: This is an opportunity to get into every facet of what happened when it landed. Once it landed, why did it spread the way it did? Why was it allowed to? Why did the powers that be choose to go at it the way they did with the War on Drugs? Why did it blow up in South Central and not in other areas? Why not in Beverly Hills? These are all interesting questions that I’m hoping we can dig into as we explore the series.