IndieWire’s Instagram Live interview series continued this week with Lulu Wang, writer/director of “The Farewell,” who’s keeping busy in quarantine amid production shutdowns, moving full-speed ahead on development for her upcoming Amazon drama series “The Expatriates.” Watch the full IndieWire Live video interview above.
Based on the 2016 novel by Janice Y.K. Lee, “The Expatriates” centers on a group of American women living together in an expat community in Hong Kong, where the series was set to shoot on location. As of the IndieWire Live conversation, Wang said she and her virtual writers’ room had broken down the entire story for the season, and are now ready to start penning episodes.
“It all takes place in Hong Kong. I’ve never shot a film in the U.S. Both my first and second features were outside the U.S., and I really want to make something at home, but this series happens to take place in Hong Kong, and all of it is shot on location for the most part. That might change,” Wang said.
“It’s always tricky, because you’re dealing with local crews, local casting, you’re in a culture that you’re not familiar with,” she said. “In Hong Kong, it was always about safety, with the protests and everything, but now in a way, the hope is that Hong Kong will recover faster. The nice thing about shooting abroad is that you have your team, you go together, and everyone is contained. It’s a lot easier to contain people when you travel and go to a different location. If we were in LA, it would be very difficult to ensure the safety of people on set.”
Wang said, however, that shooting the Amazon drama series on location is essential to the world created by Lee. “It’s such a vivid world we haven’t seen before,” Wang said.
Wang also said it was in fact Nicole Kidman, who will executive-produce “The Expatriates” via her production outlet Blossom Films, who chased Wang down and knew she was the one for the job.
“She came to me directly. I was incredibly grateful. It was pretty early, in the summer, right after [‘The Farewell’] had been released. She saw the film and loved it. She said, ‘There’s this book we optioned and we’re adapting, and you’re the first person to read the scripts. You’re the only director I can see doing this. You have to do it.'”