“Room 104,” which launched July 28 and airs Fridays through Oct. 13, depicts a different story each week, set in the same rented room.
The HBO television show “Room 104,” produced by brothers Jay and Mark Duplass, employs myriad storytellers to depict the sordid history of a graying roadside hotel room. Two of the raconteurs tapped for the task were Emerald City writer-directors Megan Griffiths and Dayna Hanson, whose paths to the acclaimed show were as different as a boxer’s punch and a dancer’s pirouette.
Instead of a recurring cast or continuous plot, “Room 104,” which launched July 28 and airs Fridays through Oct. 13, depicts a different story each week, set in the same rented room. Dabbling in horror, surrealism and comedy, the series dips its toe in a variety of waters.
“The show is all over the genre spectrum,” explains Griffiths, whose episodes, “The Missionaries” and “The Fight,” air Sept. 8 and Oct. 6, respectively. “The ‘Twilight Zone’ is a good comparison.”
An established film director, Griffiths has worked with Hollywood elite like Toni Collette, Thomas Haden Church and Johnny Depp. She is well versed in telling a story on the silver screen, evidenced by 2013’s adorable romantic comedy “Lucky Them” and 2012’s heart-wrenching drama “Eden,” which followed a kidnapped young woman through her narrow escape from a lifetime of torment.
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Griffiths met the Duplass brothers through their film work in Seattle — much of it with noted director Lynn Shelton (“Humpday,” “Your Sister’s Sister”). While most of Griffiths’ experience is on the big screen, she said she stretched “a lot of new directorial muscles” while on set of the HBO series.
Actual muscles came into play for Hanson’s episode, a dance-focused vignette titled “Voyeurs,” which airs Sept. 1. Hanson, known for her work as a choreographer for both stage and screen, zeroed in on a story about a distracted maid who cleans the room. The episode is without dialogue, but set to music.
“I knew it was going to be very different than anything I’ve seen on television before,” says Hanson, who has worked in dance for three decades, “by virtue of using dance as the primary expressive language. In a half an hour, you really have to stay close to the story. You don’t earn that break to just watch bodies moving. All the dance has to move the story forward.”
While shoots for each episodes lasted just a few days, Hanson rented her own hotel room to “practice bed choreography.” For her episode, she says, there was very little improvisation and everything was “extremely tight” on set. And since “Voyeurs” is unique in its presentation, Hanson remains aware that it might not be for all HBO audiences.
“We knew the episode wasn’t going to be for everyone because it’s so different,” Hanson explains. “But there was a moment on set when I felt like it wasn’t just me who was excited about how the script was coming to life. The crew’s inspiration really struck me — it made me hopeful that the episode might reach more than dance fans.”