Alberto Belli, director of Upload season 3 episode 6, breaks down key scenes and moments in this exclusive interview with Mama’s Geeky.
Upload season 3 episode 6 follows Nora and Nathan as they find important clues to expose Freeyond. There’s just one problem — the search poses a challenge to their relationship. As this season continues, things get more and more intense. Having two Nathans is complicated enough without Nora and Ingrid being a part of their lives.
Director of the episode, Alberto Belli, was born in Mexico and currently lives in LA where he got his M.F.A. from USC. His diverse body of work has praise from the global media and acclaimed film festival screenings such as SXSW, winning the Cannes Lions Young Director Award, and being recognized twice by the EMMYs Foundation.
We caught up with Alberto to not only break down this episode of Upload, but to discuss what it was about this series that made him want to be part of it. He reveals the challenges of filming, directing Robbie as two Nathans, and how comfortable the cast has become in these roles.
Alberto Belli Talks Upload Season 3 Episode 6
Mama’s Geeky: What was it that made you want to be a part of Upload?
Alberto Belli: It was really easy because I was already a huge fan of the show before I got the call. So I’m like, oh my god, it’s actually a dream come true. It was really fun. I used to be a computer science engineer, so I fell in love with the story because it mixes technology and really good characters. That’s how I fell in love the first season. So it was so fun to join something I already loved.
Mama’s Geeky: One of my favorite things about this season is the two Nathans. What was it like directing Robbie Amell as two different, but similar, characters?
Alberto Belli: Robbie’s amazing, first of all. I love him so much. Because we’re doing a lot of, sometimes complex movements, and stuff like that, and he already knew the perfect timing for everything. He already had figured out by the time he was in episode six, which is my episode. He already found little differences here and there. And he has a little pouch. It’s hard to tell, but they did put something on his belly and I think that makes him work a little different. He’s a little bit more self-conscious, I guess, when he’s the real Nathan. It was really fun just to see how they played off each other. That was so fun to see. Robbie’s genius of how he was playing with that.
Mama’s Geeky: In Upload season 3 episode 6, the couples get flipped. You’ve got Nora spending time with rebooted Nathan, and Ingrid spending time with the real Nathan. Can you talk about exploring these relationships?
Alberto Belli: That was the middle of the episode and what makes it so unique and special was we get to see a foursome like you’ve never seen in anything before. Because usually it’s four people that are falling in love. But this one is literally the same person. A little bit different, but the same person. And how do you explore that? I thought it was a very good episode in exploring human nature.
Would you rather be with someone who is perfect, that will be backup? Nothing near them. He still thinks he’s perfect. Or would you rather be with someone who is a little bit more real? You can touch him, but he smells sometimes. He gets grumpy. It’s not as perfect as it how Nathan was before. So I thought it was very fun to to have that, playing with what would he choose? And they end up choosing what they had before, because sometimes imperfect is better than perfection.
Mama’s Geeky: I loved getting to see Nora thinking she is in Lakeview in Upload season 3 episode 6. Was that actually the set where Lakeview is filmed?
Alberto Belli: It’s the real set. We were excited to bring a little bit of the behind the scenes to the front of the show. Obviously they enhance the whole hangar, but that is how it looks. That was really fun because we were also thinking, how can we make it feel like Nora is experiencing the “real world” in Lakeview. So one of the things was like, Is she eating something? Feeling the fire? And we ended up going with the fire because it’s like a very reoccurring thing in Lakeview you is you can pick fire. So how can we make sure that it feels real?
And so Andy was really funny with going for the fire and being like, oh this feels real! We tried to put a little bit of a gag. She was just about to touch the mini fridge that it’s so prevalent in the first season where Nathan is swiping for whatever he wanted, so when she’s about to open it, and try to do it, she’s interrupted by Aleesha. We ended up not super going there, but it’s a little bit of a gag.
Mama’s Geeky: Aleesha pretending to pop in and out as an angel is hilarious. Do these actors, now that they are in the third season, seem to be really comfortable playing around with their characters?
Alberto Belli: Everyone knows who they’re playing and I think they’re just just having fun. That’s the reason I love this show, and directing the show was a blast. What I also love about the actors is even though they know who they’re playing, they keep trying to do fresh things, right? Especially for Robbie’s playing of himself.
Or Aleesha, how does she come out? How does she enter pretending she’s an angel? She’s done it before as a real angel, but how does she brings her own personality to that work?
Or Andy, when she’s dancing. I think they are still having fun, because they amazing writers, they keep challenging the characters. That’s what makes it very interesting. The story. They keep challenging the actors to make something better and better, which challenges actors to play with different characters, which is really fun.
Mama’s Geeky: Luke is a hilarious character. Is Kevin Bigley just as hilarious in real life?
Alberto Belli: He just brings it on. In every take, even in the table read, he just makes everyone laugh. He’s so high energy when he’s performing, and it’s contagious. After every take, everyone was laughing. This time he has a really long monologue when he keeps going on and on and on. And I was like, that must be exhausting. He just brings it. The energy never never stops. He’s a pleasure to work with for sure.
Mama’s Geeky: Ingrid and Nathan’s fight was really funny in Upload season 3 episode 6, too. Was any of that improv or was it mostly what was on the page?
Alberto Belli: That’s mostly what the script was, yeah. I think it was my second scene directing. They were shooting that location for the another episode, and I came in, literally, to shoot just that scene. And it was fun. I think everyone loves playing with each other, especially Rob and Allegra. They’re really playful with each other.
Mama’s Geeky: What was your biggest challenge with Upload season 3 episode 6?
Alberto Belli: Part of the reason is the two Nathans. Because usually, when you do a TV show, you’re given the time according to how many pages it is. But this one is, like you’re shooting three or four times more, but they don’t give you four times more to do that. They give you the same amount of time, as if it was, of course, they will give you a little bit more because they understand the complexity, and the green screen, and all that stuff.
A lot of the stuff with the hand phones, as a fan of the show, I’m like, Oh, this show was so fun. When you’re directing it’s like, oh, wow, there’s so much effects that are so seamlessly included into the storyline that you don’t even think about it. So then you have to shoot those, but thanks to Robbie, he makes it seem easy. It was a challenge, more because of the execution, if that makes sense. It was amazing. He was on perfect on timing, and everything was amazing. It was more about like, oh my god, we’re running out of time and we have to redo it, because now he’s the other Nathan and he has to change.
Mama’s Geeky: If there is an Upload season 4, would you come back and direct another episode?
Alberto Belli: Oh, I would love to. Tell Greg.
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.”
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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.