Video interview with Boots Riley (“I’m a Virgin”)

It's almost impossible to properly categorize the new series “I'm a Virgo,” the seriously funny story of a 13-foot-tall giant teenager. But that's no surprise, because the show's creator and director Boots Riley developed his own style from a young age. “When you do the things that are really you, really what you think about, really what you really care about, maybe those aren't all the things that everybody has, the categories that people usually talk about things in,” Riley explains. “So they come out in this different way that feels like a new genre.” We spoke to Riley as part of our TV directors panel, Meet the Experts. Watch the exclusive video interview above.

Part of the series' unique tone is created by the homemade look of the visual effects. Riley insisted on minimizing digital elements in favor of classic techniques such as forced perspective camera angles and puppetry to create the giant named Cootie (Jerome von Jahn). “I want things to feel immediate. I want it to feel like you're seeing something and it has a texture that you're not used to,” Riley says of this approach. “I like things to be messy, rough and jagged.”

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The complicated camera setups are not without their challenges. To get the perspective right, the actors speak their dialogue without looking at each other. “You really have to know each other's idiosyncrasies and use a lot of imagination,” Riley admits of his cast. But that hurdle feeds into one of the show's core themes: learning to make connections. “This giant's story was about being isolated and looking for connections and processing all of his own issues to make connections, and also larger connections in the world,” the director explains. So any separation due to the required staging of each scene actually served to illuminate the story's internal conflict.

Despite all the planning and preparation this project required, Riley revealed that he still found a way to feel free and spontaneous while filming. After storyboarding nearly every frame of the series and analyzing every set design to save money, the world of the show felt very familiar to him while filming. “It's like someone improvising to a crazy beat. They've played that beat so many times that now they can play within it,” Riley describes. “We found ways to play around and improvise on the fly… we took big swings at a lot of things.”

PREDICTIONS the Emmy nominees 2024 until July 17

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