Making An ‘Escape At Dannemora’: Creators Brett Johnson & Michael Tolkin On Pulling Off Prison Break Series – Crew Call Podcast

Escape at Dannemora

Brett Johnson and Oscar-nominated The Player scribe Michael Tolkin began working with each other as producer-writers on Ray Donovan and it was during that


series that they made an immediate go at adapting the true story about two inmates who escaped the maximum security Clinton Correctional facility in the quiet town of Dannemora in upstate New York. The twist? The inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat had help from a female prison worker, Joyce Tilly Mitchell, who was romantically involved with them. Johnson and Tolkin’s script would become the limited Showtime series Escape at DannemoraBen Stiller initially was attracted to the project, backed away, and then became intrigued again when the New York State Office of the Inspector General issued this 150 page report dissecting the prison break and aftermath. The human relationships combined with a prison break in this digital age were all too fascinating. Patricia Arquette took on the role of Mitchell with winning results, taking home the Golden Globe and SAG limited series best actress award. Mitchell publicly denied she was passionately involved with Sweat and Matt (played respectively by Paul Dano and Benicio Del Toro) while supervising them in the prison tailor shop and that the series exploited her. However, Johnson and Tolkin all did their research –and even spoke with surviving inmate Sweat– and on tonight’s Crew Call Podcast they detail their creative process on building Escape at Dannemora. 

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