Lucy Forbes, lead director of The End of The F***ing World’s second season, has spent much of the last 12 months in the woods and forests of deepest, darkest Wales, where she has been shooting four episodes of the Channel 4/Netflix drama and BBC dark comedy In My Skin.
She has been creating rules to ensure that the nihilism of the Jessica Barden-fronted graphic novel adaptation and the Kayleigh Llewellyn-penned coming-of-age story look right and ultimately “trying not to fuck it up”.
Having achieved this, she also came home to London to find a nice surprise, a slew of messages from young, female directors following the launch of The End of The Fxxking World earlier this month.
“The really lovely thing is that loads of young female directors have been reaching out to me saying that they love the show and it’s nice to see female directors on something like this and asking for advice. I wasn’t expecting that,” she told Deadline.
Forbes (left), who is repped by Casarotto Ramsay, came out of the world of commercials and comedy entertainment and the two shows have placed her on the next rung of the directing ladder. “This has been my big break and one I’ve been fighting for for years and that’s very gratifying,” she admitted.
The Directors Guild of America recently found that women directed 25% of U.S. television episodes last year, up from 21%, with the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film also noting an increasing number of female directors. But Forbes, who praises the Free The Work initiative run Alma Har’el, said that while things are changing, it’s still not good enough.
“The world for female directors has been changing, it’s completely different than it was two years ago. I was part of a directing duo for many years and my directing partner Andrew Chaplin, was a man and we worked together really well but whenever we’d work separately, he’d always, without a shadow of a doubt, get the first call. I definitely feel and sense it’s changing but it definitely needs to change a lot more,” she added.
The End of The Fxxking World returned earlier this month following the grisly and traumatic ending of season one. Barden’s Alyssa is still dealing with the fallout of the events of the first series – having received community service for her role in Clive Koch’s death. The second series also sees the introduction of the new character of Bonnie, played by Lady Macbeth’s Naomi Ackie. Bonnie is an outsider with a troubled past and a mysterious connection to Alyssa.
Forbes called it a “dream job”. “For me it’s all about the detail, those tiny little decisions that make all the difference. It was a challenge in that the show needed to feel like the show [of the first season] but given that the characters are constantly moving, I knew I’d be able to set a look and feel going into the second season,” she said. “The characters are two years on, two years more fucked up and we’re ripping them from the world they knew and putting them into a new world. It didn’t feel like we were going over old ground.”
Forbes wrote a set of rules that included the style and color palette as well as thinking about how the story would have appeared in Charles Forsman’s original graphic novel. She said it had a particular feel, one that you weren’t entirely sure whether it was set in the 1970s or 1990s, and culled diverse references from The Graduate, Harold and Maude and the Coen brothers.
Working closely with DOP Benedict Spence, the pair went “down lots of different wormholes”. “We were such fans of the show, we just wanted to get it right. Our motto throughout production was #dontfuckitup. It was a huge responsibility because it was such a loved show and I wanted to do it justice.”
The show was shot all across Wales with a range of locations, including a diner built in the middle of a forest. “The locations are really hard to find, they are very specific, they have that Americana feel, very isolated, near forests,” she added.
Was there any additional pressure given that Charlie Covell, who wrote all 16 episodes, has stated categorically that this is the end of the road for The End of the Fxxking World? “No. You just have to get on with it,” Forbes said.
Forbes scored the job on the Clerkenwell Films-produced series after exec producer Andy Baker had seen the pilot for BBC Three drama In My Skin (right), a dark comedy series from writer Kayleigh Llewellyn.
The show follows Bethan, played by Gabrielle Creevy, as she desperately tries to keep the truth of her home life a secret from her friends. But with her mother, played by Jo Hartley, sectioned in a mental facility near her school with a penchant for breaking out, and her father (Rhodri Meilir), a Hell’s Angel who drives a rag-and-bone truck, flying under the radar ain’t so easy.
The pilot, which aired as part of BBC Three’s Comedy Slice strand, was produced last year by Expectation, the production company set up by former Endemol Shine President Tim Hincks and ITV content boss Peter Fincham.
It hadn’t been easy for Forbes to score the In My Skin gig but she said that as someone with similar experiences as Llewellyn in terms of home life, it was a job that she was desperate for. “I know what bipolar looks like and I knew how it needed to look on screen. It was really important to me that it felt real, like a true representation of someone suffering from mental health issues. I got really lucky because I got turned down for it three times,” Forbes said.
The show was subsequently picked up for four more episodes, which are currently in the editing process.
One of the reasons Forbes had repeatedly been turned down was that her body of work was largely out of the comedy entertainment space – having worked on shows such as Jon Richardson: Ultimate Worrier, Sky’s Bring The Noise and a pilot with Russell Brand and Mae Martin.
“I’d been doing pure comedy for years and I had been trying to break into long-form for a long time. I got very lucky with In My Skin, because it was the perfect fit for me. For me, comedy and drama walk hand-in-hand, they’re the same thing, when I first got In My Skin, we were worried about whether we would be able to move from drama to comedy [in the same show] but it’s such a natural thing,” she said.
Forbes is currently reading scripts and is looking to return to writing her own material in 2020. “Now I’m in a good position, I think I can be a little more choosey about what I do next. There’s not a particular type of genre I want to do, it will be about the story and the writing style,” she added. “I want to take the time to make sure the next choice is the right choice, if you’re not passionate about it, what’s the point.”
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