The Afterparty Creators on Their Inventive Approach to a Murder Mystery

Over the past decade, few filmmakers have surprised audiences as regularly as Phil Lord and Chris Miller, as projects like 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie proved they could make an enthralling project with any established property, while their original TV series Clone High and The Last Man on Earth also proved their talents on the small screen. Their latest project, The Afterparty, is a murder mystery comprised of a compelling ensemble of actors, with Miller having originally conceived of the project a decade ago, though in the form of a feature film. The Afterparty premieres on Apple TV+ on January 28th. 

"The structure was actually the one thing that remained the same," Miller shared with when discussing how the project evolved over time. "We had this group of characters and a murder mystery is a very complicated thing to build, where you have to figure out 'whodunnit' first and then work your way backward as to hide all the clues in all of the different stories. So the structure was the one thing that stuck around, but a lot of the specifics, it certainly evolved quite a bit." 

He added, "When you're in a movie, you don't get as much time to dig deep into the characters and make them interesting and complex and that was the issue when we looked at the script, coming back to it after several years. [We thought,] 'There's something interesting here, we should do something with this.' And we realized, if you open it up into a series and give each character their own episode, you can really dig into them as real characters and flesh them out and then really lean into the style of storytelling that they would tell their story in. That really just opened it up even further to have fun with all these film genres while we were shooting."

Apple TV+ describes the series, "The Afterparty centers on a murder mystery at a high school reunion. Each of the eight episodes features a retelling of the same night told through a different character's perspective, each with its own unique visual style and film genre to match the teller's personality."

As compared to other TV series, The Afterparty was a much more collaborative project, as the nature of the premise meant not only crafting an intricate storyline, but also delivering that story through a variety of genre lenses. Lord went on to recall how a key piece of putting the cast together was not just about how funny a performer could be, as having other creative skills resulted in an overall stronger final product.

"All the characters were really well figured out, as you might imagine in a murder mystery. You really have to plan all that stuff as we cast," the producer pointed out. "So it was just about trying to find great creative partners for each of those parts who could do a lot of different moves. If you look at this cast, everybody is a great actor and so many people are also great writers and showrunners and directors. They have a real holistic sense of what a scene might need and they have all the moves so they could do it, like, Ilana [Glazer] can do it as a comedy and also as a thriller because she's just really smart, a really smart filmmaker. Tiffany [Haddish] is always great at playing characters that are underestimated but are very, very, very bright. You just go down the line and it's a wealth of creativity that we couldn't have done it without that."

The Afterparty premieres on Apple TV+ on January 28th.

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