21-Year-Old Filmmaker Mikey Murphy Dishes On His Innovative New Snap Originals Series, “Save Me”

Mikey Murphy Photo Credit: Avid Eghbali

There’s a rising new talent in town, and that is none other than Mikey Murphy, the 21-year-old co-creator and co-executive producer of Snapchat’s new original series, “Save Me.” The scripted thriller, which debuted Feb. 1, features rising stars Matt SatoDaniela Nieves,  Madeleine Byrne, Darius Marcell and Madeline Zima and revolves around a “conscious community” that promotes human connections over digital devices. Here, we spoke to this young wunderkind about his new series, how his voice is singularly unique, and where he plans on going from here (hint: the sky is the limit!).

Mikey Murphy
Mikey Murphy and Donald Turner on set of “Maxine the Hero”

Photo Credit: Leah Harr

 

Tell us a little bit about your experience creating “Save Me” and the inspiration behind the Snap Original series.

To sum it up: creating the show was a major learning experience. I’ve done my homework over the years, but this was the real deal. My first time. As for the inspiration behind the show, it really came down to where my interests lie. The show, at heart, is about the types of connections you can make online in our current society of social media. You can truly care about someone you’ve never technically met and that’s an amazing thing. Most of my friends that I spend my time with here in LA are people I had originally met online. On top of that my growing interests in cults and secluded societies played a major role in the situational aspects of the story. Reading up and studying already existing cults and then getting to create my own was a blast.

When did the show film and where?

Without cheating and looking up an old call sheet I would say principal photography started on September 7th… We filmed the show closer to Simi Valley, north of Los Angeles. It was HOT. Especially when we were out in the desert at the location that played “Harmony Ranch.” Some days it reached over 100 degrees.

Tell us a little bit about the unique production processes involved when filming with Snapchat. What is it like shooting for vertical? Did the mobile format inform the way in which you created the show?

For one, the screenwriting process is different. Every element you see on screen throughout the show had to be written in a specific format. It took a moment for myself and the room to pick up on it, but once we had it down it felt like just another screenwriting tool. On the shooting side, I didn’t direct this season, so the actual shooting style wasn’t fully up to me. It’s definitely something that takes a moment to get used to, but once you do there are ways that you can actually take advantage of it and end up with a final product you could never have imagined in 16:9.

Mike MurphyPhoto Credit: Avid Eghbali

How did the format change (if it changed) from your original idea?

Due to the fact that we had been developing this show from the start with the goal of getting it on Snap, I don’t think too much changed. There definitely were ideas I had in the very beginning that would have been less possible to execute in the 9:16 shooting style, but it was as simple as a small pivot to get something working.

Why do you think “Save Me” works on Snapchat?

We tried to create a world around Jason. During the first few episodes most of the story is told through his iPhone and computer screen, creating a sense of entrapment. We store so much information on our cell phones and being able to enter our character’s world from the very beginning allowed us to gain a strong grasp on who he is as a person before the story takes off. Then, in the later episodes he escapes that world. Making his way to the cult and suddenly everything opens up. As the viewer, subconsciously, you’re supposed to have a parallel sense of feeling. I don’t think this overarching idea would have worked on any other platform.

The scripted thriller features an incredible cast of rising stars – can you share a few fun memories from filming on-set?

It was a hot summer set. So there was a lot of football during lunch, secret cold red bull stashes, and sweaty naps throughout shooting. But I’d have to say I had some of the most fun while filming the season finale episode near the gates. Everyone was so excited to be there despite the weather and we got some great performances out of everyone!

Will the show return for a second season?

I’m unsure at the current moment! Fingers are cross and I know a lot of viewers want more considering that cliffhanger we left it on!

Mikey Murphy
Mikey Murphy and Paula Some On set of “Maxine the Hero”

Photo Credit: Leah Harr

Isn’t a little ironic that “Save Me” focuses on a “conscious community” that promotes human connection over digital devices, when it’s made predominantly for those who will watch ON those digital devices? What are your thoughts?

As a social media personality turned writer / director I have a strange outlook on social media. On one side, the connectivity and success it’s brought me throughout my life. And on the other, the dangers of it and its effects on the users’ mental health. I think despite the fact that the cult is presented as the true antagonist of the story, it makes some points. Jason isn’t truly free until he comes to the cult (as I mentioned above). He finds clarity in being free from his device. At the end of the day, I think it’s just important to set self-imposed limitations to anything you do.

You’re so young to have created this series. Where do you plan on going from here?

This is what I’ve always wanted to do. Write and direct… create. Getting the opportunity to do something like this has already been a dream come true. But I’m definitely not slowing down now. In an ideal world I’d want to start directing full length films sometime soon and continue creating and writing for TV.

What makes your voice so singularly unique?

I think my generation, as a whole, has an incredibly unique voice. The first years of our lives still had VHS tapes and bike rides around town. And then as technology started to advance we grasped it at just the right time. We’ve learned how to use it to gain prospective and knowledge that otherwise wasn’t available to the generations before us. We’re so in the middle and I think that’s what makes us special. We learn, we share, and we create.

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