Neil LaBute has written and directed some of the most acid-tongued plays and movies of the last twenty years. He recently took a stab at television back in the fall of 2013 with Full Circle to mixed-results. His second TV show, ten x ten is an experimental series on DirecTV starring an eclectic cast of character actors and up-in-comers.
Each of the series ten, 10-minute short films are written, directed and produced by LaBute (Lakeview Terrace, In The Company Of Men) and feature one actor telling their story directly to the viewer, essentially breaking the fourth wall. The series ultimately explores the nature of human relationships, specifically themes of love and lust, told by characters at different stages in their lives.The show’s aesthetic consists of black & white cinematography and one unbroken take delivered to the camera.
Check out the trailer for the series below:
In typical LaBute fashion, it’s divisive and off-kilter. After all, this is the individual who brought us the most hilariously unhinged Nic Cage film, The Wicker Man. LaBute is also known for his stage work in New York, not to mention a slew of strongly-written & directed films like Lakeview Terrence and In The Company Of Men.
LaBute is notorious for characters spitting prickly dialogue and creating situational unease and social awkwardness through narrative “one-up’s”. Television is a perfect medium for the writer-director to stretch his skills and craft a novel-eque narrative among a cast of diverse characters. Essentially combining film and stage into a multimedia experience that is ten x ten.
When speaking about the chance to do the show, LaBute went on to elaborate about his distinct approach to writing and directing and the chance to do another television series:
“I feel so fortunate to have enlisted such wonderful actors for this, many of which I’ve had the pleasure of working with on the New York stage…It takes an exceptional talent to do this kind of acting — straight to the camera and without any edits. It’s like walking a tightrope without a net.”
The show first consisted of five episodes starring: Fred Weller (The Good Wife), Jenna Fischer (The Office), Louisa Krause (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Richard Kind (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Judith Light (Assembled Parties). A second set of films that capped off the season boasted an even more impressive cast of actors such as: Adam Brody (Some Girls), Maggie Grace (Taken), Jason Patric (Narc), Amy Madigan (Gone Baby Gone) and Bill Pullman (Independence Day).
Chris Long, DirecTV’s Senior Vice President of Original Content and Production stressed that LaBute had full creative control of the project:
“We are proud that Neil has chosen DirecTV as the first place to write, produce and direct his own material…The films will be produced with a true auteur model; we’re striving for the least possible distance between the artist’s vision and the final product.”
ten x ten is DirecTV’s second collaboration with LaBute, who previously wrote last fall’s Full Circle which starred Tom Felton and Minka Kelly as two lovers at a diner where they talk about their lives and relationships.
ten x ten aired back in February on the Audience Network. Any DirecTV subscribers should check it out.