Convicting a Murderer, a followup to the Netflix true-crime series Making a Murderer, has begun production in Wisconsin. After 10 years of painstaking filming, Making a Murderer debuted on Netflix in 2015 and almost immediately stirred a public debate over the possible wrongful murder conviction of Steven Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, for the grisly 2005 murder and mutilation of photographer Teresa Halbach. While it seemed like an open and shut case on the surface, the series raised significant questions about the integrity of the case and possible motives by local authorities to target Avery.
The true-crime murder-case angle of Making a Murderer immediately drew comparisons to the podcast Serial and the HBO series The Jinx. Enhanced public scrutiny in the wake of the controversial show seemed to show results: in 2016 Brendan Dassey's conviction was overturned and he was ordered released from prison later that year (Dassey remains incarcerated pending an appeal to the Supreme Court). Meanwhile, Steven Avery was denied a new trial in 2017. Now, a followup series is on the way.
Convicting a Murderer is now officially underway. The series is independently financed, and all eight episodes will be directed by Shawn Rech, whose 2014 documentary, A Murder in the Park, covered a similar case. Chicago attorney Andrew Hale is producing the series, which evidently does not yet have distribution and is unconnected to Netflix or the creators of Making a Murderer. According to the press release, Rech states:
“When ‘Making A Murderer’ was produced, many on the law enforcement side of the story could not, or would not, participate in the series, which resulted in a one-sided analysis of the case. This docu-series will examine the case and the allegations of police wrongdoing from a broader perspective. It will also share with viewers the traumatic effects of being found guilty and vilified in the court of public opinion.”
Rech will apparently have "exclusive, unprecedented access" to the prosecutors and state investigators of Avery's case, including District Attorney Ken Kratz and Lead Investigator Tom Fassbender. With a new level of access, Rech insists: "We’ll present all of the evidence in the Avery case from the perspective of both the prosecution and the defense and see if viewers feel the same way they did two years ago following the first season of ‘Making A Murderer’.”
Making a Murderer made waves alongside other true-crime releases, such as FX's The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and the Netflix documentary, Amanda Knox. Many audiences responded strongly to what was presented as a vicious miscarriage of justice, with petitions calling for Avery's release prompting even the Obama White House to respond that the president cannot pardon a state criminal offense. New episodes and/or a second season were promised in 2017, but never appeared.
At first glance, Convicting a Murderer might seem to be just what the show's followers have been waiting for. However, it seems that Making a Murderer's filmmakers, Moira Demos and Laura Riccardi, are not involved in this incarnation of the story and have, thus far, not commented. With a distinct emphasis on Shawn Rech's access to the prosecution (members of whom were indeed interviewed for Making a Murderer), this new series might prove itself sympathetic to the state's case. If so, are we to have a competing documentary series over the Avery case?
Source: Transition Studios
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