‘Making a Murderer’ Filmmakers Eye Second Installment of Netflix Series

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Courtesy of Netflix

The filmmakers behind “Making a Murderer” have taken preliminary steps to produce new installments for Netflix’s true-crime documentary series.

During a Stranger Than Fiction panel discussion at New York’s IFC Center on Thursday, “Making a Murderer” directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos said that they have spoken to Steven Avery’s new lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, about the prospect of filming and have continued to record their conversations with Avery. The 10-part “Making a Murderer” docu series revolved around questions about the judicial process behind Avery’s 2005 conviction for the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach, as well as the related convictions of his nephew Brendan Dassey.

“From our perspective this story is obviously not over,” Ricciardi said. “It’s real life and (Avery’s and Brendan Dassey’s) cases are both still pending. We have no idea when the magistrate will make a decision in Brendan’s case. We do know that two potential outcomes are that the judge could order Brendan’s release or he could order a new trial. So we are on the edge of seats about that. To the extent that there are significant developments, we would like to continue documenting this (case).”

However, the duo’s return to Wisconsin to film Dassey and Avery could be problematic. Panel participant Stephen M. Glynn — Avery’s civil lawyer – said, “There is a lot of hostility toward these two women (Ricciardi and Demos) in Wisconsin. The theory is that have played Wisconsin unfairly. But among those people who think and are a little more educated and thoughtful about these sorts of issues, there is appreciation.”

Joined by Glynn, production adviser Maureen A. Ryan and editor Mary Manhardt, the helmers discussed the 10-year process of reporting, editing and releasing “Making a Murderer” and the questions it raised about the criminal justice system.

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Ricciardi and Demos explained that after reading a story in the New York Times about Avery’s plight, they wrote him and fellow subjects letters, which eventually got them in the door.

While it sounds like it was an easy enough process, Ryan called skillful letter-writing the secret weapon of the docu world.

“You can’t underestimate the power of well-written, heartfelt letter in the world of documentary filmmaking,” Ryan said. “Filmmakers constantly get ‘no’s’ from so many people they want access to. I find that the directors who can write these kinds of letters are able (to gain entry) to a world that everyone else got a ‘no’ for.”

Manhardt, who started working on the project in January 2015, was introduced to Avery’s world via a rough cut of the first five episodes. She said that she knew immediately she wanted the job.

“I was transfixed by the rough cuts, which is not often the case,” the editor said. “Sometimes when you watch a cut you see a seed of something developing, but with this one, it was already there.”

But cutting together a series with episode arcs and cliffhangers as opposed to a 90-minute feature documentary was admittedly an adjustment for Manhardt.

“The cliffhangy aspect of this series was hard to get,” Manhardt said. “As was the fact that in a streaming situation you don’t have to reset at the beginning of each episode. So the way it is going to be viewed changes the way you cut in subtle ways. The fact that you are not having to reset and remind the audience where we were at is big.”

It’s been just 10 weeks since the series was released. Since then the directing duo have been bombarded with media attention as well as scrutiny about their motives, which Demos called challenging.

“To read an article that calls our integrity into question and more or less accuses us of leaving things out (of the film) when there are 12 factual errors in the first two paragraphs of the article is frustrating,” Demos said. “So we just have to sort of disengage from that and try and have more meaningful conversations (about the topic).”

“I’ve never really dealt with the press before except in the context of making the film,” Ricciardi added. “So to be the subject is different, but we are grateful that people have watched and engaged with the series because we made it to promote a dialogue. I can’t keep up with all the headlines and the tweets and I certainly can’t engage with all of it. The series has in many ways taken on a life of its own.”

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  1. briscola says:

    This show distorted the facts more than the the police changed the evidence. Shows like this one start off great but then after you invest the time to watch 10 episodes and are very bitter over the outcome you find out it is very “produced”.The evidence and testimony that the show left out to make it more shocking should be a crime in itself . Exmpl… Avery *67 Dialed Halbach’s Phone On The Day She Was Murdered * Halbach Had Allegedly Said She Was Uncomfortable Visiting The Avery Residence * Avery’s DNA was found on the car under the hood but the show left that out * In the months leading up to Halbach’s disappearance, Avery had called Auto Trader several times and always specifically requested Halbach to come out and take the photos. * The bullet with Halbach’s DNA on it came from Avery’s gun, which always hung above his bed. * Past criminal activity also included threatening a female relative at gunpoint.

  2. Amy Foster says:

    I would love to see a second season! They are both innocent this Wisconsin court system is ridiculous and corrupt please pursue more filming of what’s Happening

  3. Maggie says:

    After watching this , I felt for that poor man serving 18 years , time he can never get back, see his children grow up . No matter if the local people dislike this man or the fact he is different from the LOCALS.. That’s life, everyone has the right to be different. Like or hate he still Served 18 yrs in prison for a crime he did not commit.

  4. I’ve written an unbiased piece about the issues raised by a second series http://rosiegreenfield.weebly.com/

  5. Eric says:

    I tried watching this series, but got so disgusted by the prosecution I had to stop. No wonder they don’t want a sequel. After all, the police and prosecutors look like the biggest criminals in the state.

  6. Tommy says:

    It is impossible to look at this case objectively without it appearing that the prosecution was culpable. But that is because they were. Now the cat is out of the bag and justice might eventually be done and the real murderer caught and prosecuted.

  7. Bill says:

    Gee, two people come to town, paint the locals as hicks and give the entire narrative from the defense’s point of view, resulting in thousands of otherwise uneducated about the case people demanding new trials and also calling said residents hicks.

    What could POSSIBLY have engendered rancor?

    Meanwhile Avery’s defense counsel’s comment is exactly what you’d expect – “But among those people who think and are a little more educated and thoughtful about these sorts of issues, there is appreciation” – or, “if you only KNEW our client you’d know he was innocent.” Awesome PR job.

    • squck says:

      OH,please—this wasn’t some “hicks/rubes vs. big city people” nonsense—this was a real (and very good) documentary, not some “reality show” BS. As someone who watched the entire series, I can say that both sides were given more than equal and fair time, and yeah, there were definitely some questionable things done in both cases against Avery. I think he’s guilty (for the second case) but that dosen’t mean that the prosecutors and police should let off the hook for some of the conflicts of interest and the ways they handled the case to begin with.

    • Making a Murderer presented both sides. Very fairly. Which is more than we can say for the local news during the trail and investigation of Avery. The prosecution did some pretty deplorable things in the media and it was detrimental to the case. It is upon my observations that since Making a Murder showed both sides people are basing their conclusions off the facts presented. Not sure how that is wrong. That is how our justice system works. Both sides present the evidence and then a verdict is made. Perhaps you should try it. The truth of the matter is how could millions of people have such strong opinions about how this case was handled if there wasn’t something obviously severely wrong? If it was as cut and dry as you seem to think then why are the majority of those who are educating themselves on the case outraged? I’ve read most of the trial transcripts and I’m even more outraged. So take that with a grain of salt. Perhaps you should actually listen to both sides instead of just one? If you were being tried for a crime would you want the jury to hear just the prosecutions side? Perhaps you should look in the mirror to see the true bias? Just a suggestion.

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