Looking for some uplifting TV? Try Ghostwriter on Apple TV Plus! Ahead of Ghostwriter Season 2, we spoke exclusively with Ghostwriter writer and director Luke Matheny.
Luke Matheny has already won an Academy Award for his short film God of Love. Now, he and his colleagues are receiving praise for their work on Apple TV Plus’ Ghostwriter, including a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. The series, for which Matheny is credited as an Executive Producer, writer, and director, is a reboot of the Sesame Workshop/PBS classic.
While listed as part of the Apple TV Plus offerings for children, the series can be enjoyed by adult, especially anyone who grew up watching the original, too. In our exclusive interview with Luke Matheny, the writer and director discusses Ghostwriter‘s vision, literary connections, and what we might expect in Season 2.
We also shared our thoughts on why Ghostwriter might just be the perfect show to watch in these uncertain times.
Hidden Remote: Congratulations on all the success Ghostwriter has had so far. As somebody who grew up watching the original, I have to say, I absolutely loved it.
Luke Matheny: Thank you!
HR: In which ways did you try to balance updating the series with avoiding changing too much?
LM: We tried to strike a balance. As far as the original went, we knew that there were some parts we would honor the best we could—particularly the mysterious ghost communicating in cryptic messages to our kid heroes, which was a hallmark of the first one.
What this one did, which the previous didn’t, was include this conceit of a ghost releasing fictional characters from books. Which was an exciting new addition to the world but also kept true Ghostwriter‘s pro-reading mission.
HR: I also noticed your “look” was very clean—not too high-tech but, thankfully, not the ’90s. Could you discuss your vision there?
LM: For me, I was trying to directorially come up with a look and feel that would be an exciting, accessible mystery.
BBC’s Sherlock was something that I looked at a lot and tried to figure out how to meld the video excitement of that with the warmer hues of the Harry Potter universe, also with some CGI components blended in there. The hope was to arrive at a visually-striking, off-kilter aesthetic.
HR: Mission accomplished! Moving on to the stories that were chosen for Ghostwriter Season 1, how did they factor in?
LM: It was definitely a “chicken or egg” thing. Sometimes, there was a book that we all loved, and we figured out a way to make that book serve the over-arching mystery. Or, sometimes, there was a point in the mystery where we needed a specific kind of book that would satisfy our needs.
The goal was to have an eclectic mix. The trick was to not just do “the greatest hits of literature,” even though some of those hits would be included; it was to have a rich tapestry of various kinds of stories that our kid audience would devour after seeing the show.
HR: What was it like working with the child actors?
LM: It was a great group. They were all fairly new to being on camera but very naturally talented.
A 12-year-old actor is old enough to be very good, but there’s also this added bonus of getting to teach them about the business.
The actor who plays Curtis, Justin Sanchez, went from never having been on camera in any sustained way to asking me questions about camera positions and if his shot would work in the close-up or in the wide.
HR: Sounds like you have a future filmmaker on your hands. Are you able to tell us which stories we’ll see in Ghostwriter Season 2?
LM: You might see something that rhymes with “Schmankenstein.” Then, there is a great YA novel about a girl who can see other people’s memories, which comes in very handy with our kid heroes. They also contract that power, which helps them dig deeper into the mystery they’ve been trying to solve.
HR: Those sound fun! Will Ghostwriter Season 2 have the same uplifting tone as the first season?
LM: Yes, the tone is similar. We’re going to be with these kids, trying to solve this mystery, as these mysterious fictional characters emerge from the pages of literature. That’s basically the structure of the show as we barrel towards the surprising, yet inevitable, conclusion that I will not tell you anything more about.
HR: What else would you like people to know about Ghostwriter to make them tune in?
LM: High-quality family viewing is what we’re going for with this show. Right now, we’re living in a moment where you have the time, and you have your family. So, we have the show for you.
It’s just a really compelling mystery, with lots of engaging and accessible characters; and this is a great time for the audience to take part.
While there are huge, huge downsides to the circumstances we’re living in right now, perhaps the silver lining is gathering with your loved ones and diving in to this other world.
HR: Was there any talk about a Ghostwriter Season 3 before the world fell apart?
LM: There was lots of talk, but it all fell apart. So, we’ll see where we land when the world sorts itself out.