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How The Murderer Was Made

That Steven Avery stare

Senior Staff Writer Dakshina Chetti shares her experience in an panel filled with famous Netflix series Making a Murderer, aficionados and people who only heard that it’s famous. The writer and the director of the show, Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos tell us how the 4-time Emmy Award-winning series came to be. Note: not easily.

For the Netflix junkies out there, or for those of you who still haven’t bothered to get adblock, it’s likely that you’ve come across the endless trailers, scene-comps and reviews for the ever-controversial documentary-series Making a Murderer. The show, written and directed by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, details the harrowing story of Steven Avery, who wrongfully served nearly two decades for sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen, prior to his exoneration in 2003 and consequent conviction (for, well, another murder) in 2005. This Friday, Ricciardi and Demos took seat in the Miller Theatre, where they discussed the groundbreaking work (a decade-in-the-making), in terms of narrative technique and film-making, throughout the course of the creation of the 4-time Emmy Award-winning series. The panel was moderated by Tom Kalin, Rob King and Maureen A. Ryan.

The room was filled with aficionados who’d watched the series through and through, and a select few–like me–who’d seen a bunch of trailers and wondered about the ENews! Releases on Steven Avery’s tumultuous life. Throughout the evening, the writers and directors discussed their respective backgrounds that allowed for the series’ unique narrative stance, specifically–Demos’ background in filmmaking and Riccadi’s vantage point as a lawyer. They worked very very closely with the lawyers in the case so that the viewing audience could go on a complete journey, experiencing all aspects of the judicial procedure and witnessing its workings and kinks, particularly in the post-conviction process, something the two directors later found out greatly lacked popular exposure. The key to making this chilling series, as it turns out, lies in the complete immersion of the film production in the event itself, as everyone from law enforcement, family members, prosecution, defense lawyers and judges were approached in the creative process. Comprehensive doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Making a Murderer is just a series of perpetual unfolding (or dénouement for those of you who actually bothered listening in on those high-school lit classes) that keeps its audience on the edge of its seat, seeking to understand, explain, and ultimately, experience the progression of this twisted case. Show don’t tell: the evidence in the show is provided to the audience early on, and with consistency, such that the viewership feels as though they are reaching some of the most important conclusions themselves–we aren’t just told of the unfairness of the case, we are allowed to realize it for ourselves. The series really gets at the issue of accountability, applying various techniques from both documentary-filmmaking and fictional storytelling to create an unparalleled chronicle of a man’s chaotic journey through the justice system.

Making a Murderer via Netflix 

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