Fosse/Verdon was an exercise in honing details for storytelling—details from Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon’s lives, details from their productions and films, details from their friendships. It only makes sense that the production of the show follow suit, down to the title cards.
“We wanted to use the tools and techniques Bob and Gwen would’ve had access to at the time and film the titles on 16mm with physical props and kodaliths,” says yU+co founder and creative director Garson Yu on behalf the production team who made the title cards. “Building things for real and using the optical processes of the time period, allowed us to focus on the craftsmanship of everything,” he continues. “That attention to doing things for real and respect for the process is how the show itself was built and it’s how Bob and Gwen worked, so we knew we couldn’t do anything less for the titles.”
Shooting real objects granted texture to the limited series about two theatrical masters. Though seven of the eight title cards were filmed in a single day (the exception being Episode 5), each required its own creative design and set of tools to execute. “Each episode in the series covers a different time in the life of Fosse and Verdon, which means a specific time period,” says Yu. “We wanted every title to be made using the processes/tools of each episode’s time period.” So Episode 3, spotlighting Fosse’s editing struggles on Cabaret and Verdon’s challenges with Children! Children! in the early ’70s, uses a theatre scrim and spotlight; the finale uses a working theatre marquee.
Of course the title cards also set viewers up for the story of each episode and “reflect emotionally where our characters are at,” according to Yu, all in collaboration with the Fosse/Verdon creative team.
“We absolutely could have built [these] on a computer and it would’ve looked great, but that wouldn’t have been true to the theatrical and filmic spirit of the show,” says Yu. “It was clear very early on that the only way to do this right was to do it all ‘for real.’”
Just like Bob would have done.
To check out more behind-the-scenes images on yU+co’s work on Fosse/Verdon and more visit YuCo.com.