Upload Season 3 Episode 5 director David Rogers unpacks the meeting of the two Nathans, Nora’s Lakeview return & more behind the scenes info.
Upload season 3 episode 5 is now available to stream on Prime Video. This season has been filled with shocking reveals as Nathan navigates a new body and Ingrid forms a relationship with “new Nathan”. Not to mention what Aleesha is going through at work.
We caught up with Upload season 3 episode 5 director David Rogers to discuss and breakdown this pivotal episode of the season. This is the first time viewers get to see the two Nathans together, which David talks about in this interview. He reveals the challenges that this brought as well as the logistics of it all. David also breaks down when Nora’s return to Lakeview and her seeing Nathan again, and the inspiration from earlier in the series that they used.
David Rogers discusses his work on Upload as a whole as well, talking about what made him want to be a part of the series, and how he has evolved as a director since his season one episode (which also had a lot going on). He is sure to take the time to praise each and every one of the actors involved.
Director David Rogers Talks Upload Season 3 Episode 5
Mama’s Geeky: What was it about Upload that made you want to be a part of it?
David Rogers: Greg Daniels just called and said, “Hey, I got a new show. Let’s talk about it. And that was about it. I just do whatever Greg wants.
Mama’s Geeky: This episode has the two Nathans meeting, which is a big moment. Was that daunting to direct?
David Rogers: Yeah. So the two Nathan’s meet in my episode for the first time. At first there’s a little surprise conversation on phones, where they’re both stunned, but then they finally meet face to face. I loved it. I was so excited. I didn’t realize how complicated this episode was going to be, and I don’t think the writers did either, because they write it and then we get the script, and I’m like, we need more time. And they don’t understand why. Here’s a simple scene of two people walking, and it’s like, no, it’s not two people walking, it’s one person walking that we have to shoot multiple times. Everything has to be shot double. Even the coverage.
So if you want to angle you’ve got to shoot it twice. So instead of three setups, there’s six setups in a sense, and there’s costume changes and things like that. But it was a blast. It was a blast. Listen, I love superhero things and special effects. And I have a couple pictures of me in a complete green screen environment. So that was really exciting, because these are things that I have seen behind the scenes of Infinity War or something like that. So I was very, very excited to get to play with some toys, like a motion control camera, and really doing some tricks to make it feel like they are two individual people being shot in the same scene.
A lot of times, I feel like doubles is almost a gimmick that you have. Like, here’s one person and here’s the same person. And you do a split screen and they’re looking at each other and they don’t really interact. We didn’t want to just do that. They have to have good chemistry with each other.
Mama’s Geeky: They’re like brothers. It’s so sweet. Robbie Amell is fantastic at portraying two versions of Nathan that feel different from one another.
David Rogers: Right? Because one has branched off. Real Nathan has different experiences. He’s older now and he’s got different experiences. So he’s gone one way, and the other one is branched off a different way. He doesn’t have these experiences. He’s a little behind, but because he doesn’t have these experiences, he’s not forming them the same way. It’s almost like a child. If you have this environment, you’re going this way, if you have this environment, you’re going this way. Or if this didn’t happen, you would grow up this way. Robbie was fantastic. We had a great, great actor with him to work with as a double, just to run lines and stuff.
Robbie got to look at even the auditions for that and then rehearse and was like, yeah, this guy will work with me. In all the scenes, when you start doing the first take, Robbie can interact with the double, get it down, and then by the time he switches to the next guy, he already remembers what he did and how he acted so he can act and react. He’s awesome. He’s such a pro. And so consistent.
I can’t say enough about Robbie or the entire cast. They all are just fantastic. We spent a lot of time getting this cast together. They’re great actors and we really assembled a fantastic cast.
Mama’s Geeky: They’re all amazing. Like Ingrid. Why do I like her now? I am supposed to hate her.
David Rogers: Right. Suddenly you’re like, oh. And that’s the thing. To give these characters redeeming qualities. To feel for them. And it wasn’t so black and white season one, it wasn’t. You just think she’s kind of self absorbed. It’s not so simple. You see her background and why she chose to do things. She’s still listen, there’s still some… she’s not completely sane.
Mama’s Geeky: In this episode we see her with her friend, who is mean to her and you start to feel for her.
David Rogers: She’s out. She’s upset. She misunderstands the situation with Nathan and then she’s like, That’s it, I’m done. I’m done with VR. And she’s out in the real world. And her friends are not great people. They kind of remind me a little bit of her family. She’s put in a situation with her friend, which I think is super funny, what they end up doing. But her friend really is unimpressed with Ingrid and attacks her for being loyal. And Ingrid is like, No, that’s a great quality to have. Everything she does is, I think, so funny. Those scenes with her doing the horse butt yoga are really, really funny.
Mama’s Geeky: You also have Nora’s return to Lakeview and seeing the other Nathan. What was it like directing them in that scene?
David Rogers: So we were on set and I brought up the scene from season two, where they had been separated and they meet up on Family Day, where Nathan runs over and he’s like, Tinsley, Tinsley, because he thinks it’s Tinsley in the Nora avatar. She’s like, No, it’s me. We have this music playing and it’s very sweet how they interact. It’s a rehash of that. What was scripted is it’s a rehash. Except he’s seeing her for the first time, because she disappeared. She went off grid and they never reconnected. To him, they hadn’t reconnected yet, To her, she’s like, Yeah, okay, right, you miss me. I miss you. And it’s just super funny. But I showed them the scene so they knew what we were homaging in the scene.
A lot of times when shooting, part of the job of the director is even just to say, Hey, this is where we are right now in the story, just so everyone knows. Because there’s so much going on. You’re shooting out of order. You’re like so this has been revealed, and now you’re here and this hasn’t been revealed yet. This is where we’re headed, but this is where we are now. And filling them in on stuff from previous episodes. Because there’s things we may not even have shot yet from something that was supposed to happen that hasn’t been shot yet. So that gets tricky keeping track, but that’s our job. The script supervisor, the writer, will tell them what’s going on.
Mama’s Geeky: So you directed an episode back in season one, do you feel that you have learned a lot between then and now, in terms of directing?
David Rogers: Even that was a pretty challenging episode. We had a lot of stuff with the season one episode. It was a death, Dad’s tour of Lakeview, and then we’ve got a bomb goes off in Horizon and the server room gets blown, and everybody gets dematerialized to these block versions of themselves. With every episode, I always feel like I’m learning and then by the time I go on to another episode of direct, I have a new skill set.
Even just changing over from using binders with the script to now going with an iPad. With digital, my prep is different. I can do 3D stuff for blocking to show the director of photography what I’m thinking. I can do camera moves and things like that. I can previs on my own, some stuff, to at least bring it up to say, Hey, this is what I’m thinking. It’s open to change. Let’s play with it. That’s what’s been been fun. I’ve had a lot of good directors that have mentored me in certain ways with prep. Starting from Ken Coppice on The Office, Paul Feig, Michael Spiller on The Mindy Project. Great, great director, and does great prep. Really learned a lot from him.
Mama’s Geeky: Since we are on Upload season three now, do you feel that the actors bring things to the table in regards to their characters?
David Rogers: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Greg has a pretty strict policy that started with The Office of you have get it as scripted. So we’ll get it as scripted, then we can play, and go off, and change lines, and things like that. But we need at least one take where it’s as scripted. He just wants to be in the edit bay so he’s not like, where’s this line? That someone thought was a throwaway, but it was like, No, this is actually, this is why this line is here. It’s a key piece of information. You’ll pitch things, the actors will pitch things. You’ll try stuff and you’ll see whatever’s the best.
Also on The Office, it was ultimately whatever was funniest made it in the show. It didn’t matter if a writer wrote it, if it was a senior writer, if it was a staff writer, if it was an actor who pitched it, if it was the boom operator who pitched a joke. It made it in there, whatever was funny. There was no political thing going on. And the same with Upload. It’s whatever is the best delivery, the best joke, that usually is what wins and makes it into the show.
But the cast. Everybody has grown. Just even seeing Zainab who plays Alicia, and Kevin, who plays Luke. Zainab’s character is really doing a lot this season. Owen Daniels is the AI Guy, he’s got so many things going on. They do a lot of doubles with him, but it’s usually one shot. Episode Five, where it’s a whole thing, and a conversation, it’s usually just one shot of Oh, here’s some doubles, not a ton of things going on and cameras moving around.
I want to give props to a lot of the other actors, Andrea Rosen plays Lucy, and she always cracks me up. I just think her character is great, and what she brings. We have different levels with her. Big, medium, bring it down a little bit. But she’s just, she’s fantastic, just hysterical, and so, so funny. Another great addition to the cast from from the pilot.
About Upload Season 3
Upload is a sci-fi comedy series from Emmy-winning writer Greg Daniels (The Office, Parks and Recreation, King of the Hill), set in a technologically advanced future where holographic phones, self-driving vehicles, AI assistance, and 3D food printers are the norm. And, forget about dying – instead, you’ll be “uploaded” to a virtual reality afterlife, and enjoy all the comforts of a world-class resort. Provided you can afford it.
In Upload Season Three, Nathan has been duplicated. While “download” Nathan is reuniting with Nora, a Horizen customer service rep realizes he is missing from Lakeview and restores a backup “upload” of him. Now more than ever, Nathan, Nora, Ingrid, Luke, Aleesha … and even A.I. Guy, struggle to find a balance in their careers, technology, and love between the real world and the virtual reality “after-life.”
You Might Also Enjoy...
Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.