PASADENA, Calif. – A sexual assault scene in an upcoming YouTube drama series was re-shot and revised after a female showrunner joined the project.
Executive producer Lauren LeFranc said she wanted to focus more closely on the experience of the victim, a 16-year-old played by actress Maddie Hasson, and make the assault “visceral and real.”
The pilot episode of “Impulse” was both shot and revised before the sexual misconduct scandal broke in Hollywood last year, snaring some of the industry’s biggest players including Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.
The emergence of the anti-misconduct #MeToo movement and the new YouTube drama is a coincidence but a welcome one, LeFranc said in an interview following a Q&A with TV critics Saturday. The series’ debut date was not announced.
“We’re hoping that because of the conversations being had that people are going to give a show like this more credit and see there’s a voice here,” she said, “rather than falling on the sidelines like some previous shows and films that have spoken out about sexual assault have come and gone.”
She was determined that the assault not be depicted as a “neat and tidy” incident that the character, Hassan’s Henry, easily moves past, Le Franc said. It’s also pivotal to the sci-fi drama because it triggers the first “teleportation” for Henry and remains central to her young life, she said.
Hassan (“Twisted,” ”The Finder”) called it “very important to us that this be a real story, even though it’s fiction and has the veil of science fiction.”
It’s a chance to give abuse survivors a voice and the chance to feel less alone, Hassan said.
The drama at its heart is a coming-of-age story that focuses on Henry, the young man who attacked her and is left paralyzed by the violent aftermath, as well as Henry’s mother (played by Missi Pyle, “Gone Girl”) and others in Henry’s world, its producers said.
Executive producer Doug Limon, whose credits include the film “Bourne Identity,” said the idea of a character who can teletransport — based on the theoretical movement of objects from one point to another, without crossing the physical gap — might seem to make for a superficial show in which Henry is “flitting all around,” but the contrary is true.
Henry, whose full name is Henrietta, keeps getting sent back to the small town she is desperate to escape, allowing an exploration of her and her life that gets “deeper and deeper,” Limon said.