SxSW Activation – Mr. Robot Hacks Austin

By: Robert Prentice
Mr. Robot SXSW USA Network

When Mr. Robot came to SxSW in 2015, nobody knew just how successful the series would become for USA Network. The buzz generated from the screening helped push the series to an instant success for the network. Mr. Robot earned a second season renewal and decided to repay the fans of SxSW that helped propel it into a second season by returning in 2016 with an activation that was named one of SxSW’s best experiences this year. We agree.

One of the biggest draws for the Mr. Robot takeover was a massive, 100-foot Ferris Wheel — a Coney Island-inspired carnival ride that captured one of the most iconic scenes of season one. At the foot of the wondrous wheel was the fsociety arcade, populated with classic gaming consoles (including “Mallard Murder,” an Easter egg for fans of the show) and a hackers’ den for festival-goers to watch the pilot and unwind.

One of the core reasons Mr. Robot has been received so well is its dedication showing real, not bull shit, coding on screen. At a panel titled “Coding on Camera: Mr. Robot and Authenticity on TV” the cast and director talked about the research that went into making sure what they showed on screen was authentic. Here are several insights from the cast about what we can expect from season 2.

Season two will deal with the debate over encryption and privacy that has recently been in the news with Apple. But Esmail pointed out that he was working on it before it entered the news because it is that important a conversation. “I’m not a fortune teller,” he joked, before Rami added, “I ask him for lottery numbers every week.”

Even though he doesn’t feel it’s his job to make commentary about events like the FBI and Apple debate, Esmail thinks it’s his job as a filmmaker to bring it up and give people the information they need to have a more informed conversation about it, and that’s what he hopes Mr. Robot will do.

Esmail will direct every episode in season two, but everyone was quick to point out that he was on set pretty much every day last season. Malek is a huge fan of Esmail’s decision to direct. “I was doing my best work when he was around, and that goes for the rest of the cast and crew,” he said, which was met with a strong agreement from Slater.

The second season just started shooting, and they’re filming it like a movie, which means they’re shooting based on location and therefore will be shooting episodes out of order. Malek mentioned that he shot scenes from the seventh episode on his first day of filming.

When asked what to expect from season two, Esmail mentioned that Grace Gummer was cast. He explained that last season Elliot committed a crime, and we’re going to see the ramifications of that in season two. The introduction to law enforcement was intentionally left out of last season.

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