Mr Robot’s Rami Malek, Christian Slater and Sam Esmail were all in attendance to discuss “Coding on Camera: Authenticity on TV” and how important it is to the series. The show is only one season in and has already won a Golden Globe and has become one of the top rated television shows on network today.
This panel was easily one of the more popular panels of the entire festival. Thousands lined up outside of Ballroom EFG’s door waiting for entry. The line was so long it continued on another floor of the building.
Sam Esmail began the panel by discussing how how he wanted to tell a story about a culture he was personally a apart of during his adolescence,
“A lot of my friends are nerds and coders in InfoSec. Some of them are hackers. I made a poor attempt at hacking in college and was on academic probation. I wanted to tell a story about that culture because I found those people very interesting. I was watching all this cheesy crap TV shows and movies, some of it I adore, but they’re not great at representing who those people are and what that world looks like and what hacking really is.”
“It’s really important to us and to the actors, I think, just to add that credibility of like, Okay, now is actual real code vetted by our tech consultants, and Rami, you actually have to type this code into it.”
Malek added that it can be a challenge at times as well. “I’m used to just knowing my character and my lines down. But I have to come in a little early to understand the graphics and animation.”
The show also has an FBI cyber crime experts on site working as consultants for the show. Esmail’s assistant, who was recently promoted to a writer, also previously worked in cyber security.
On the subject of creating a character as distant but relatable as Elliot,
“I always tried to humanize him. I remember staring at Angela’s Facebook, Elliot wishing he had that life, and it got me sad. But it was easy to connect to that aspect of him. We can all relate to that loneliness and being distanced by technology, and these manicured Facebook pages we create.”
In terms of season two, Esmail said that he expects to real-life situations such as the encryption issue between Apple and the FBI.
“What’s weird is we’re really going into thematically talking a lot about encryption and privacy, and this whole thing with Apple and Tim Cook happened, which I actually think is a really important issue that we’re really going to get into in the next ten years or so. It’s not something that I think people really understand the nuances of, but it’s going to be interesting public discourse about it, because it really brings up the idea of the rights to privacy and do we have them, do we not?”
Season Two will premiere later this summer. You can catch the first season on Hulu.
This is the second year Mr. Robot has attended SXSW. Last year the series won the episodic Audience Award during SXSW. Meanwhile, signs with the phrase “Who Is Mr Robot” were on walls throughout Austin.
This time around, USA Network set up an “fscociety space’ across from the iconic Frost Bank. The space included a 100-foot Ferris wheel, a hacker den and a retro arcade similar to what we see in the series.
The complete experience, which runs from March 11th to March 14th, includes:
- Ferris Wheel – A nod to the series’ iconic backdrop, the first of its kind, 100-foot Ferris wheel will stand in the heart of downtown Austin (West 4th Street and Congress). From 11:00am – 10:00pm, fans can board one of the 20-branded gondolas for a full, complimentary 360-degree view of the city.
- Hacker Lounge – Similar to the underground fsociety lair, the recreated arcade will feature popular retro games for attendees.
- Photo Booth – To become one of the fsociety hackers, festival-goers can stop by the provocative MR. ROBOT photo booth and share the creed of the 99%. They’ll be immersed in the story and stand alongside the hacktivists behind the masks.
- Themes Giveaways – In tandem with the 90’s style of the drama series, consumers can visit the screen-printing t-shirt bar and walk away with their own wearable, limited-edition custom MR. ROBOT prints.
- Graffiti Art Installation – Standing 8-feet tall, the freestanding art wall will display MR. ROBOT fsociety wild postings and stencil artwork.
- Hacker Lounge – To unwind, fans can relax in the vintage, basement-inspired hacker lounge with monitors playing the series’ pilot episode daily.
Don’t forget to check out news and our reviews of Mr. Robot here.