- Publish Date
- Thursday, 18 October 2018, 4:44PM
When it debuted in 2015, Making a Murderer captured a global audience - an audience which is still waiting for answers.
The four-time Emmy-winning series told the story of Steven Avery, a man wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years for attacking a woman. He was exonerated in 2003 and then arrested again for allegedly raping and murdering another woman in 2005, with the aid of his nephew Brendan Dassey (who was released from prison this year).
The major twist? The county laying the charges was the very one Avery was suing over his wrongful imprisonment, to the tune of $36 million.
When film-makers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos read about Avery's story they were "overwhelmed with questions", so armed with their cameras, they went in search of answers.
That labour of love famously took the pair 10 years before their 10-episode series found a home on Netflix.
The problem was, Making a Murderer left both the film-makers and viewers with more questions. Which is why the second season - which lands on Netflix tomorrow - has been so highly anticipated.
"A few months after part one launched we learned that Steven had a new attorney [Kathleen Zellner] and she happened to be the winningest post-conviction private attorney in America," says Ricciardi.
"When she took his case it became clear to us that she was going to challenge his conviction and his imprisonment ... so we began to think about the possibilities of what additional episodes could look like."
So part two examines the post-conviction process and the effect it has on Avery, Dassey, their families and communities, and those of the victim Teresa Halbach as well.
Ricciardi and Demos are all too aware that fans are hungry for answers, but they're mindful of the fact that you first need to understand what questions are actually being asked.
As film-makers, they knew Avery was going to fight for his freedom, to prove his innocence and restore his reputation so their main question was: "Will he succeed?"
"We knew that if he was going to trial that there would be a resolution in that respect. However I think for the people who came away doubting that Steven Avery or Brendan Dassey were the people involved in the crime, I think they have residual questions about who killed Teresa Halbach and more broadly: What happened to her?"
So will fans get those answers this season? Possibly.
Avery's lawyer Zellner is looking for new evidence in a different vein to what Dassey's lawyers Steven Drizin and Laura Nirider were looking at in season one.
"It's more fact-driven, to do with the case rather than the interrogation," says Demos. "What she represents for our viewers is we have someone trying to achieve a goal that many of our viewers themselves want to achieve."
The major success of season one has certainly left them with a tough act to follow.
Making the series was much faster and easier this time around as they had Netflix on board, which meant funding, resources and a team that made it possible for them to edit and shoot at the same time, cutting production time in half.
As film-makers, they'd also "gained some legitimacy", which made things easier in terms of getting people to participate.
"We weren't - as in part one - just indie film-makers or film students showing up with camera, but rather a team, and a team with a track record and one with an incredible amount of institutional knowledge about this story. So overall I think it just elevated the work," says Demos.
But in terms of delivering for audiences, they felt a new kind of pressure.
When we were working on part one we were thinking about our viewers the whole time, wanting to give them the experience we'd had; to take them into the courtroom or to the kitchen table or into the interrogation room, but at that point the viewers were imaginary," Demos says.
"So when we embarked on part two with the interest in these characters and in this story it just amplified the weight of it and the responsibility to try to give our viewers a full and well-rounded picture of what is really going on."
So while part one was a "roller coaster" of twists, turns and more questions than answers, part two will look back at what happened in greater detail.
"It allows us to take our viewers into that process, they're going to learn a lot about what they went through in part one and be able to understand it better," promises Demos.
"Viewers did want answers and ... some people were angry at us for not giving answers. But for those viewers who felt that craving at the end that they wanted more answers and were not so happy about having been left with questions, we really just hope that provides the fuel for them to take the next step in the journey."
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.
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