Alex Garland On The Look And Feel Of Devs, And Star Wars Stealing All The Good Sets

You won’t be able to see FX’s Devs, director Alex Garland’s (Ex Machina, Annihilation) foray into television until next year. So allow him to explain it to you.

FX brought the cast of Devs—Sonoya Mizuno, Jin Ha, Zach Grenier, Cailee Spaeny, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Karl Glusman—to New York Comic Con earlier this month. Thanks to the panel, we learned a bit about the mysterious plot, but considering io9 got some time with all of them in our studio afterward, we tried to squeeze out a bit more.

“It’s a particular sort of science fiction which is, it’s not space opera, it’s the world we live in now but there’s some central conceit which is very, very different,” Garland told io9. “So, in the same way that Ex Machina is sci-fi, the robotics are very advanced. The AI is very advanced. It’s kind of our world.”

Devs is focused on a Google-like tech company and its super secretive development division, which houses a quantum computer that Garland described as “much, much more powerful than they are now and maybe than they’ll ever be.”

“Quantum computers are very susceptible to all sorts of things like vibration and temperature changes. So this computer is housed inside a massive, truly massive floating gold cube based on a fractal shape called... a menger sponge,” Garland told us.

“It’s floating in a vacuum because that allows the temperature to be kept at the right temperature and for vibrations of the Earth not to be transmitted through to it. But it’s also very beautiful. So the idea is that the closer you get to the tech heart of this place, in a way the more magical and more beautiful it is.”

The trailer for the sci-fi series has not yet been released online, but from what we saw at the panel, the set for the main devs work area is absolutely huge and certainly impressive. Finding a place to house such a set was an interesting task, according to Garland.

“We found the biggest sound stage we could, which was in Manchester,” Garland explained at the NYCC panel. “There used to be some really big ones in London, which is fine, but Star Wars and Marvel have bought them all up for years...for years...for Pinewood. So in the north of England, there was a really massive soundstage, and so we built a huge cube and as much as possible we try, like everybody does, to shoot things real where possible.”

Working on more practical sets is something Garland said the cast appreciated. And the cast echoed that at the panel.

Actor Stephen McKinley Henderson (who plays Stewart on the show) said, “One thing I really remember...everything that wasn’t glass was either stainless steel or something that would leave fingerprints. And there were these people who came...wonderful...would come in and clean away fingerprints for each take....And you have to be quite mindful of how you entered and left where you put your hands. It was just amazing to see the beauty of the cleanliness of the space. And know that it was functional. If you touched the keys you really did get a response on the screens. I mean, it’s just amazing to have that kind of reality.”

Devs is set to debut on FX in the spring of 2020. Stay tuned to io9 for more about the show from our time with Garland and the cast at NYCC. Below is the transcription of what Alex said.


Alex Garland: It’s a particular sort of science fiction. It’s not space opera, it’s the world we live in now. In the same way that Ex Machina is sci-fi, the robotics are very advanced, the AI is very advanced. It’s kind of our world and the rest of it, there’s helicopters and cars. If you drink coffee it’s out of a mug. And the big conceit is that quantum computers have been built and they’re much, much more powerful than they are now and maybe than they’ll ever be.

The show is essentially set in and around a large tech company and it has a division within its company which is the development division. And the development division is using a spectacularly powerful quantum computer. So this computer is housed inside a massive, truly massive floating gold cube based on a fractal shape called a menger sponge.

It’s floating in a vacuum because that allows its temperature to be kept and for vibrations in the Earth not to be transmitted through to it. But it’s also very beautiful. So the idea is that the closer you get to the tech heart of this, in a way the more magical and more beautiful it is.


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