Shawn Levy Talks About “Dash And Lily” And Stranger Things 4 Status
But he’s still an executive producer on the revival of the streamer’s Unanswered Mysteries and just had tones of fans fall for the I Am Not Okay with This adaptation. Of course, because of the pandemic, the series ended up in an awful situation, but Levy manages to forge on with yet another series that will definitely brighten your day, Dash & Lily.
This series is top sweetness and Levy knows it, enjoying the fact that the “warm-hearted escapism” you might need right now is Dash & Lily. I got the chance to jump on the phone with Levy with the show landing on Netflix on Tuesday , November 10th to talk about what he learned from the I Am Not Okay with This experience, how they assembled their team of directors for Dash & Lily, the secret to supporting his cast, producing alongside Nick Jonas and so much more! In the interview below, you will find it all out.
Decider recently met up with Levy to talk about Dash & Lily, Shadow and Bone and Stranger Things 4 ‘s status, and what could come next for the recently cancelled I Am Not Okay With This.
The Interview With Shawn Levy
DECIDER: I’m just curious what was it about Dash & Lily that drew you to the material? What made you so excited about it?
Well, I guess it was a number of things. Mainly, I love populist, feel good storytelling. I actually believe that entertainment should be joyful, and filled with humanity and warmth. I was looking to do a television equivalent to some of the romantic comedy movies that I remember being so filled with delight. Movies like Love Actually and Serendipity, to name just a few. When we read Dash & Lily, it felt like: “Here is a chance to do a feel good, New York-set, holiday rom-com with very specific characters.” And characters I haven’t seen in other romantic comedies, which made it super interesting.
You mentioned how you like rom-coms, I do too, but I’m a little cold on the Hallmark-style Christmas rom-com myself. Were you at all apprehensive about the clichés attached to the holiday rom-com?
Anytime you believe in something as a show or a movie, you have to, at a certain point, trust your gut and quiet those outside voices. If I believed in stigmas, I would have never done a TV show about kids that wasn’t for kids. And that show became Stranger Things. Nobody, nobody wanted a show with kids that wasn’t for kids. Similarly, for everyone who will say, “Oh, the rom-com form is so tired. Hasn’t it been done every which way already?” A, no. B, not like this.
I’ve talked to Dash & Lily creator Joe Tracz and one of the things we talked about is how wonderful it was to film mostly on location in New York City. I’m curious: obviously when you film on location, it can be cost-prohibitive. Do you think, ultimately, it was worth all the work of doing it on location?
Yeah, I think there is a certain production value and magic to New York City that is unique in the world. It’s why, for every dummy who says, “New York is done. New York is empty. New York is over,” I point to New York City as proof of the opposite. Proof of the singular magical quality of the city. And we wanted that quality to be both the backdrop of the show, but also built into the DNA of the show.
I know you’re also a director. When you’re producing a show, when do you decide to go in as a director, and when do you decide to stand back and just put your producer magic on the program?
In general, I only say yes to directing things that I feel I can do better than any other director I know. And I felt like — especially with a director like Brad Silberling, who did our first two; frankly, all of our directors — I felt really confident that we had this roster of directors who were actor-savvy, knew how to bring style but also sensitivity to performances. And frankly, maybe the shorter answer is: I am so busy and so overcommitted already, between the movies I’m doing and the episodes I do every year on Stranger Things. I wanted someone whose attention could be more exclusively focused on Dash & Lily.
Stranger Things 4, you guys are back up and running and filming. How’s it going with the COVID precautions? Were you able to tighten the stories and scripts with that downtime as well?
We were able — [Laughs]. So, the downtime allowed us to do something we’ve never done, which is to finish all the screenplays before we shoot the bulk of the season. We’ve never done that. The Duffers are always writing while we’re making the current season. This year, they were able to finish all the episodes. We’re able to schedule more wisely. It also allowed them to polish the scripts with the time that they’ve never had before. The quality of the scripts illustrate this.
Stranger Things 4 And Its Excitement
Season 4 is insane, and incredibly strong. Huge in scope. Way bigger than we’ve ever done. But also, all of the warmhearted character storytelling that our audience wants and expects from Stranger Things. For production, I shot a chunk of time in February and March before we had to shut down. The Duffers are back at it, because we spread out the work. It’s going well. It was, like, a million meetings about the COVID protocols that are necessary to keep everyone safe. But now that we’re actually in the midst of it, this new normal has become the way we work. The precautions are always rigorously upheld. We’re finding it’s quite possible to do good and inspired work within those protocols.