Del Toro will join the ranks of directors like Michael Mann and Martin Scorsese, who have developed series, directed pilots, and otherwise worked to infuse their sensibilities into the DNA of HBO shows at their earliest stages. Boardwalk Empire, for example, has long moved on from Scorsese’s active shepherding, but it’s still a show operating on a foundation he set with his opulent pilot.
In this case Del Toro is overseeing a “Hitchcockian” adaptation of Nutshell Studies, a book that collects the research and photography work of Corinne May Botz concerning a rather fascinating criminologist active in the 50s who shaped how crime scenes are investigated to this day. Frances Glessner Lee was the woman’s name, and she turned an interest in criminal investigation into a whole new craft- reconstructing crime scenes as impossibly detailed miniatures.
The models display an astounding level of precision and detail: shades can be raised and lowered, mice live in the walls, stereoscopes work, whistles blow and pencils write. My photographs highlight the models’ painstaking detail, as well as the prominence of female victims. Through framing, scale, lighting, color, and depth of field, I attempt to bring intimacy and emotion to the scene of the crime. I want viewers to feel as if they inhabit the miniatures – to loose their sense of proportion and experience the large in the small.
The site also features a gallery of preview images from the book.
Obviously this is a great backdrop for Del Toro to do some focused, hard-edged television work that will also refreshingly take him outside of fantasy to explore very human-level disturbing stuff. The period, Hitchcock-influenced crime element would be more than enough to justify his time, but adding in the twist of Lee’s obsession with miniatures (that are used to this day as investigator training aides) makes it wholly in his wheelhouse.
He’ll be working with novelist Sara Gran to adapt the book. There’s no time table as of yet, but I would expect to see this move at a more steady clip than many of Del Toro’s projects.
Oh, and if they’d like some free, brilliant advice: retitle the show Murder She Miniatured.