When it comes to the art of film, director Tamra Davis is no stranger to pushing boundaries and exploring various genres. With a career spanning over five decades, Davis has directed music videos, television series, documentaries, and comedy films, working with notable names like Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, and Dave Chappelle. However, when the opportunity arose to direct an episode of Apple TV’s series, The Afterparty, Davis found herself drawn to a new type of storytelling: the whodunit mystery drama.
The Afterparty, created by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, along with writer Anthony King, takes on an Agatha Christie-style approach with each episode focusing on a different murder suspect. The directors of each episode were tasked with filming in a particular style, paying homage to various genres of filmmaking in Hollywood. This unique storytelling method intrigued Davis, and she eagerly agreed to direct episode six of season two titled “Danner’s Fire,” which aired on August 9 and revolved around Tiffany Haddish’s character.
In a recent Zoom interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Davis delved into the filming process of “Danner’s Fire,” which stands out from the other episodes of The Afterparty’s second season. However, she also let slip that she is the director of the series finale, teasing the possibility that THR might have the scoop on who killed groom Edgar.
Davis was invited to be a part of The Afterparty season two production family due to her admiration for the show. After meeting with Miller and King, she was assigned to direct an episode. Davis had previously worked with producer Michael Cedar, which further enhanced her experience on the show. Having worked across different genres, including comedy, drama, and documentaries, Davis was comfortable approaching comedy. She emphasized the importance of starting with a strong script, with Miller and Lord being known for their comedic prowess. In the case of “Danner’s Fire,” Davis was particularly excited to work with Tiffany Haddish, whom she admired for her stand-up and book, feeling a connection to her background in Los Angeles.
When it comes to directing comedy, Davis believes in creating a positive and lighthearted atmosphere on set. She ensures that she comes prepared, ready to laugh and have a good time with the talented comedians she works with. She sees her role as providing a playground for the actors to showcase their comedic skills, supporting and facilitating their performances. While the script provides the foundation, Davis also allows room for improvisation, capturing ad-lib moments that enhance the comedy. In “Danner’s Fire,” some of Tiffany Haddish’s best lines were improvised, eliciting genuine laughter from the cast and crew.
As for the episode itself, each episode of The Afterparty represents a different genre or era of film. “Danner’s Fire” was described to Davis as a ’90s erotic thriller, reminiscent of films like “9 1/2 Weeks,” “Basic Instinct,” and “Body Heat.” Davis embraced this style, playing with lighting, design, and a sexy rapport between Haddish’s character and Michael Ealy’s character. It allowed Davis to recreate those classic cop scenes while giving Haddish a powerful role akin to those played by actors like Michael Douglas.
What made “Danner’s Fire” unique was that it had its own story separate from the main murder storyline of season two. Alongside the flashback scenes of Haddish’s character narrating the events, there were concurrent live-action scenes where the other characters were desperately trying to find the antidote for a poisoned suspect. As a director, Davis had to navigate shooting these two different storylines simultaneously but found joy in the editing process, watching how actors like Sam Richardson and Tiffany Haddish brought their characters to life.
In conclusion, Tamra Davis’s involvement in The Afterparty season two allowed her to explore a new storytelling genre and work with talented comedians like Tiffany Haddish and John Early. She embraced the challenges of directing comedy by creating a positive and supportive environment on set, while also allowing room for improvisation to capture those genuine moments of laughter. Davis’s episode, “Danner’s Fire,” stood out as a ’90s erotic thriller, adding a unique flavor to the series. With the revelation that she is also directing the series finale, viewers are left wondering if The Hollywood Reporter might have the inside scoop on who killed groom Edgar.