Amazon Studio’s Them debuted last spring to an enormous buzz. Audiences couldn’t stop talking about Little Marvin’s anthology series, one he refers to as a “terror series” rather than a “horror series.” The first season focuses on the struggles of the Emory family as they relocate from rural North Carolina to Compton in the 1950s. Thinking they can escape their past trauma, the family finds themselves terrorized by forces both human and supernatural. With razor-sharp direction and stunning, fully committed performances from Deborah Ayorinde and Ashley Thomas, Them emerged as an anthology series which people couldn’t stop talking about.
But to fully orient viewers in this terror, Little Marvin had to assemble a world-class production team to fully realize his vision. Included in this team are production designer Tom Hammock, cinematographer Checco Varese, and costume designer Mari-An Ceo. Little Marvin threw them all several curve balls, including a flashback episode filmed entirely in black and white. The team rose to the challenge, delivering excellence across the board.
AwardsDaily sits down with all three in this video essay on The Crafts of Them.
First up, Tom Hammock isn’t a stranger to the horror genre. In fact, he worked on one of my personal favorites You’re Next. On Them, he uses a keen eye for detail, recreating not only the real world of human terrorizing the Emory family but also the supernatural world in which characters sometimes stumble. He talks about creating the period authentic sets for a flashback sequence and about the underground bunker set that so many crew and cast members loved.
Next, cinematographer Checco Varese isn’t necessarily a huge fan of horror, but he knows how to film them. Varese’s lensing takes a cue from the time-honored horror adage: it’s what you don’t see that scares you the most. Here, he talks about working with shadows and light to heighten the terror. He also talks about the differences in color palates between the Emory family and the “others,” the white families terrorizing them.
Finally, costume designer Mari-An Ceo filtered much of the series’ theming into her costume designs. As with production design, she assigned a specific color palate to the Emory family and to the white families terrorizing them. She also found ways to follow Little Marvin’s overall decree – the series should be seen as a 70s horror film looking back on the 50s – while still honoring the style of the 1950s. Finally, she talks about finding looks with intimate details that carrying character themes into their personal style.
Tom Hammock – 1:28 Checco Varese – 21:06 Mari-An Ceo – 44:28