HBO has hit back at claims that the producers of Big Little Lies tore creative control away from British director Andrea Arnold.
The channel said it is “extremely proud” of Arnold’s work and praised the fact producers and director were able to “work collaboratively”.
A story in IndieWire surfaced on Friday, suggesting that there was a behind the scenes battle for control on the hit show after Arnold, director of Fish Tank and American Honey, was hired to helm the entire second season.
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The report states that showrunner David E. Kelley and executive producer Jean-Marc Vallée, who directed all seven episodes of the first season, seized creative control in order to “unify the visual style” of the two seasons.
Sources close to the show said Arnold was hired to shoot the second season, as Vallée was busy directing Amy Adams-starring series Sharp Objects for HBO.
They mistakenly believed that the 58-year-old Brit had a style that could easily be moulded to mesh with Vallée’s work in the first season.
Arnold was reportedly unaware that her work was going to be shaped by Vallée and expected to see the editing process through from London.
Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, who are executive producers as well as stars of the show, were happy with Arnold’s work, with Kidman calling her their “fearless leader”.
When Vallée’s commitment to Sharp Objects was finished, however, post-production moved to Montreal and 17 days of additional shooting were scheduled.
While Arnold was on set in order to comply with Directors Guild of America rules, Vallée was an “extremely hands-on EP” who reworked the visual style and scripts.
The director declined to speak to IndieWire for the report, but sources close to her said she was “heartbroken” at the turn of events.
Social media users and entertainment journalists took to Twitter to support Arnold and noted their discomfort at an acclaimed female director having their work altered to fit their male predecessor.
I honestly don't understand what Andrea Arnold has to do if after ~those four films~ you still don't just let her get on with it.— Robbie Collin (@robbiereviews) July 12, 2019
Trust me that those of us who have been trying to get an Andrea Arnold interview for months now knew something fishy was UP. I’m very happy @IndieWire got the story out. Very distressed this happened.— Joanna Robinson (@jowrotethis) July 12, 2019
I'm just really sad that a very talented and capable director like Andrea Arnold was treated with so much disrespect.— Women Film Directors (@women_direct) July 12, 2019
Her Oscar winning short Wasp is one of my favourite shorts ever. Watch it if you want to get a sense of what she's capable of:https://t.co/2ID2byOlOy
HBO, though, has defended its show and praised Arnold for her work.
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“There wouldn’t be a Season 2 of Big Little Lies without Andrea Arnold,” said HBO in a statement sent to multiple outlets.
“We at HBO and the producers are extremely proud of her work. As with any television project, the executive producers work collaboratively on the series and we think the final product speaks for itself.”
Big Little Lies is currently airing on HBO in the USA and Sky Atlantic in the UK.