Netflix has launched the new season of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, which promises to be “the most unpredictable, unclassifiable, and unexpected yet”. With it comes a suite of additional imagery by renowned Magnum photographer David Hurn, who was invited to take pictures on the set of the final episode, Demon ’79.
Directed by Toby Haynes, the episode follows a shop assistant in the north of England who discovers a mysterious talisman. From there it spirals into a “darkly comic, bizarre kind of fable”, according to Brooker, who explained in a statement that “typically, Black Mirror has focused on tech dystopias or media satire, whereas this story has a stronger supernatural element, harking back to 1970s horror.”
Hurn was invited by Netflix to shoot on the set of the new season. “My brief was basically to produce 70s looking pictures,” he tells Creative Review. “As this episode was set in the 70s, I got to shoot in black and white – the 70s colour – this was easy.” Hurn has been photographing since the mid-1950s, and his direct experience of making work during the period in which the episode is set lends an authenticity to the work, rather than feeling like a pastiche.
His images zero in on the episode’s main cast: theatre performer and I May Destroy You actor Paapa Essiedu in full 70s glam, alongside A Streetcar Named Desire star Anjana Vasan, dressed more demurely in her character’s shop assistant uniform. These are joined by a handful of environment shots showcasing some more of the period set design and costumes. The photos were created for Netflix’s editorial platform Queue, and will be available for use on Netflix channels worldwide.
Hurn has worked on sets before, capturing everyone from Bond to the Beatles, “so the thought of re-working in this field after 30 or 40 years was pleasing rather than daunting,” he explains.
Of course, in that time, TV productions have become increasingly ambitious. “I was surprised by the amount of people – so many clipboards – at least as many as a major film set of earlier times. What was most obvious for me was how equipment had advanced and was so much smaller,” he says.
“I think the producer and director had faith in me and just let me get on with it. My day was very relaxed and comfortable, I simply wandered around making sure I didn’t bump into anything or end up in shot – I feel I made mini friends with a couple of very capable actors and a writer. So pictures were easy.”
Black Mirror season 6 is out now on Netflix