“Untitled Political Thriller”


A mysterious script landed on the desk of The Molecule, unlabeled and unmarked beyond the words “Untitled Political Thriller.” The enigmatic story of espionage, coded signals, and strange behavior immediately sparked our intrigue. We pored over the script in great detail.

Chris Healer, Visual Effects Supervisor, recalls receiving the script. He thought, “This is really interesting. There are crossword puzzles, chess pieces, and all this interesting detail. What could this possibly be called? How do you contextualize something of this nature?” His answer came a few weeks later when Canterbury Pictures finally came up with the name: RUBICON

This political thriller follows Will Travers (James Badge DaleThe Departed, The Black Donnellys), a green research analyst for New York City American Policy Institute. This exciting and stylish new series is shot in NYC on 35mm film in shades of sepia, which sets a classic tone for the paranoid ride of conspiracy and deception. “Nothing appears as it seems” says co-star Miranda Richardson who plays another pawn in this complex artifice.

To all of those who need a brush-up on Roman History the Rubicon is a river in Northern Italy that marked the border between Italy proper to the South and the Celtic province of Cisalpine Gaul to the North. On January 10th (which happened to be the first day we shot Rubicon) Caesar dragged his army across the river, which made armed conflict inevitable. The phrase “crossing the Rubicon” has survived to refer to any individual or group committing itself irrevocably to revolutionary course of action or “Past the point of no return”

Director Allen Coulter has done an epic job of shooting Rubicon in an entertaining, cult classic way. Many shows rely on casting or locations to create excitement and while Rubicon has those in spades it is very focused on details and how they fit together to make an interesting story. For instance Coulter told wardrobe that a particular character should wear a watch but told the actor to never to look at it. The character already knows the time. The entire production is very rich in detail and symbolism throughout.

Canterbury Pictures and The Molecule previously joined forces for Rescue Me and now Rubicon. Chris provided some insight on the inner workings of the show.  We began shooting on  a very frigid day in January. They were about to shoot a train sequence. “Shooting on any MTA or Metro North is a little tricky,” he explained.  They don’t offer permits to film on any train or subway. Our main objective was to film the train tracks themselves, but MTA made us buy 24 individual tickets for the crew to ride Metro North.  I suppose it turned out to be worth the trouble since the scene is sitting pretty in the pilot episode and the end of the trailer.  Details on the VFX of this scene will be coming soon in a tutorial with Chris Healer

Beyond the VFX shoots, Chris said he was really impressed with the rest of the crew. There was a time where The Rivington hotel had to quickly be turned into an exotic European Airport. Within seconds the Production designer, Henry Dunn, covered the eyesore that was a billiard table. He boarded it up and dressed it to look like a long elegant banquet hall. Only in the world of production can you go from Rivington Hotel to Exotic Airport in the matter of minutes.

The Molecule produced over 20 shots for the pilot episode, which is highly charged with conspiracy and leaves the viewer grasping for more. Check out The Molecule’s stunning work on AMC when it premiers August 1 at 11pm.