Primetime: Fox's <I>Filthy Rich</I>
Issue: September/October 2020

Primetime: Fox's Filthy Rich

Fox’s new series Filthy Rich is from writer/director Tate Taylor, whose film credits include Ma, The Help and The Girl on the Train. The 10-episode southern Gothic family drama is set in New Orleans, where wealth, power and religion all collide.

The Monreauxes are a family known for creating a successful Christian television network. When the family’s patriarch (Gerald McRaney) dies in a plane crash, his wife (Kim Cattrall) is left to take charge of the family business, along with their adult children (Corey Cott and Aubrey Dollar). Shock comes when they learn that their father has three illegitimate children, all of whom are written into his will. The revelation threatens the Monreaux family name and fortune.

Filthy Rich is produced by 20th Century Fox Television, Imagine Television and Fox Entertainment. Tate Taylor (pictured) created the series, wrote and directed the pilot, and directed five additional episodes. The series is executive produced by Taylor, Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo, John Norris and Abe Sylvia, who also serves as showrunner. Kim Cattrall is a producer on the series.

Filthy Rich’s production wrapped up in January of this year, with post completed in June. Taylor recently talked with Post about the show and how it all came together.

Not only were you the writer and executive producer, but you direct the pilot?

“I ended up doing six of the 10. It was hard not to be hands on, to make sure the tone was set.”

Can you talk about the vision you had in mind?

“The title came from the original IP that was brought to America. That was the title that we were given. But when you look at the layers of it, money is dirty. And it’s not so much extravagance, but what people are willing to do to be successful, and at what cost to both those you love and your own instincts and convictions.”

What kind of look were you going for? The title suggests extravagant?

“Tonally, it’s not a broad soap. I wanted it to be something — with all the storyline and all the extremely-diverse characters — that anybody watching could plug in and say, ‘Well I understand how they feel,’ and with the storyline and conflicts, give them a chance to evaluate their own personal thoughts and feelings about things. We are such a polarized nation right now. It’s just so divided and I am hoping my show can bring people to the water cooler and discuss it and say, ‘I think that way. Maybe that character has a point?’”

What was the set up for production and post?

“The writers' room was in New York, for instance. I wanted a new array of writers with different sensibilities, some of which are from New Orleans. And I wanted editors who had done more streaming work, if not film. And I chose the DP personally, having worked with her in film.”

Your director of photography was Christina Voros?

“She DP’d Yellowstone, and now she is directing a bunch of them. And she DP’d Ma, my movie with Octavia (Spencer). And she DP’d my movie Breaking News in Yuba County. There were a lot of female characters and I thought it was great to have a female DP lighting them and talking to them and relating to them. It’s a great ally for the director.”

What is the shooting style for the show?

“It’s three-camera. One time we had five, but we also often just used one. I didn’t want it to be herky/jerky, which can be a television look. We had them there in case.”

How was working on a series different than your film experiences?

“Unlike film, we are under the gun to get these shots. And we had so much to write and so much story to work out and direct. And the television format is very different in how it’s to be delivered. I had to lean on her, having done television, to guide me on how it works. It’s not moviemaking! There are rules and budgets and packages they have to fit into. She taught me a lot about television and equipment. I love that she knows how to do it, because my eyes glazed over.”

Where were you shooting and posting?

“We shot the whole thing in New Orleans. New Orleans for New Orleans. That was very important to me. Post was in New York City, and it was on the same floor as the writers' room, which was very helpful. We were in Times Square, in a building, so post was there, my editors were there, we had that going all at once, and a lot was electronically shot back to me in New Orleans where, in between takes, I would make adjustments.”

Were you in a studio or rented space?

“It was an office building in Times Square. We got a great deal and just brought everything in. A lot of shows are there…The color correction and DI was [outside], but editorial was all on the same floor for economic reasons.”

Being you were directing so many episodes, how were you keeping up with the post?

“My time is limited, but I really know what I want. I shoot quickly. If I have a take and I like it…It’s not thousands of takes. I try to edit as I direct. So it was quite easy to be sent a scene and give notes. It was not tough at all.”

What was the timeframe for editing episodes?

“I think it was about three days to provide me with the rough cut to give notes on. I was in the writers' room the whole summer before we started shooting. Then, right when we began prepping, I went to New Orleans and began pre-production and shooting there. My co-show runner — Abe Sylvia — we made the decision for him to stay up there and stay on top of the writers' room, notes and editorial, and I would be the one that was the work horse, boots-on-the-ground, director, producer in New Orleans. It was a wonderful way to do it.”

How would you describe the show’s soundtrack?

“It’s not unusual, but it’s definitely not the New Orleans ‘expected’ sound. It can get quite cliché when you score something for the city that it’s set in, so I had hard fast rule: Nothing that sounds like ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ — ever! It’s a very cool, modern film score in many ways.”

Were there VFX needs?

“It’s not too heavy. A lot of it is to fix things. We had some skyscapes put in. We shot New Orleans for Colorado, so we plopped in mountains [in the background]. There were some burning effects that we had to do, but there are not heavy, heavy visual effects. They were mainly there to aid in storytelling and make things cleaner.”

Did the pandemic affect the post process?

“We had to do the ADR remotely. We had to have microphones delivered to people’s houses. It was crazy! I couldn’t be there.”

Did the show turn out the way you had initially envisioned?

“It was fantastic. It met every expectation and beyond. I’m very happy.”

Filthy Rich airs on Fox on Monday nights at 9pm (EST).