On today’s episode of Crew Call we speak with Alena Smith, the creator of Apple TV’s period comedy series Dickinson starring Hailee Steinfeld as the famed, passionate, dark 19th Century Amherst, Mass. poet, and the show’s composers Drum & Lace and Ian.
Dickinson follows Emily Dickinson through her formative teenage years in northern Massachusetts, as she defies stiff society norms of the day, indulging in a love affair with her future sister-in-law , Sue Gilbert (played by Ella Hunt — (Emily dedicated many poems to Sue); breaking hearts (George Gould played by Samuel Farnsworth), being obsessed with death (played by Wiz Khalifa) and refusing to be penned in by her politician father Edward (Toby Huss) as she pursues a career to have a byline on her emotional penned thoughts. She also meets a few intriguing contemporaries of the day, including author Henry David Thoreau (John Mulaney) and booming regional Little Women celeb scribe Louisa May Alcott (Zosia Mamet). Though not famous while she lived, having been forced to publish her poems under some men’s bylines, Dickinson writing came to light following her death in 1886 after sister Lavinia discovered her cache of poems, then making them public in a first collection published in 1890.
Accentuating in how Dickinson speaks to today is Drum & Lace and Ian’s techno score which they’ve collectively described as “a deconstructed pop song”. One fun musically-infused romp of an episode is the third, entitled “Wild Nights” when Emily’s parents go out of town, and she throws a party with her brother Austin (Adrian Enscoe) and sister Lavinia (Anna Baryshnikov) and their friends. Opium enters the picture and let’s just say the night turns out to be a fun night by all.
Drum & Lace and Ian have recorded music individually as artists and each have numerous solo composer credits to their names. Italian born composer Drum & Lace’s credits include the fashion documentary The First Monday in May (dir. Andrew Rossi), HBO documentary At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal (dir. Erin Lee Carr), and the upcoming crime doc from director William Saunders, The Penny Black. Ian’s scoring credits include the Andrew Rossi directed docs Ivory Tower and The First Monday in May, and feature pics Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story, The Gospel According to André, A-X-L and AGBO/Neon’s Sundance acquisition Assassination Nation.
Good news for those who enjoyed Dickinson: COVID-19 didn’t impact the production of season 2 which wrapped prior to March. Look out for season 2 down the road.