MR. ROBOT

Mr. Robot is an US techno-thriller television show that centers around Elliot Alderson (played by Rami Malek), a hacker with mental issues that is recruited by the leader of a hacker group called fsociety, a man who goes by the alias Mr. Robot (played by Christain Slater). Mr. Robot wants Elliot to help start a revolution and help take down E Corp, an conglomerate that Elliot believes is a menace within society.

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Video on the hacking techniques and tech used in Mr. Robot - video by Codenistein

Ownership:

Mr. Robot is created by Sam Esmail and picked up and distributed by the USA Network, but distributed by Amazon for UK audiences, who have become a competitor in the online streaming market with their Amazon Prime service, and are well known for online shopping (where they can fund project more money unlike their competitors like Netflix), and also have a cloud network where photos can be stored. The company is vertically integrated.

The way the drama was advertised was mainly through billboards and posters that were plastered around cities,especially in New York. These posters would mainly consists of Elliot's face and with some form of text, referring to the idea of the public having their liberties and freedoms being stolen from them by some form of higher-ups (example of this being the poster to the left), and also referencing the current political climate (like Trump's campaign to become the next US president after Obama), which is how the show branded itself throughout the run of the show by staying topical.

The show is also praised for its technical accuracy.  

For a show about hacking, the most important aspect is that it must be how real coding, techniques and machinery work within the real world. Hacking in films and other various forms of media has always been portrayed as having a 3D visual interface, but real world hacking involves a console or terminal as it is more productive.

 

However, Mr. Robot does not follow the 3D trend and sticks to the realism of hacking. An example of this is when AllSafe is hacked via a Rootkit ("malicious code that completely takes over [the] system. It can delete system files, and stop programs.") disguised as a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service). In order to fix the issue, Elliot has to go to a server farm to redirect all the information from the infected servers while the rest of AllSafe's tech staff have to disconnect the servers to wipe and reboot the system that will kill the virus they spread during the attack. ​

 

Representation of these sequences like this in Mr. Robot make the show considered as one of the most accurate depiction of computer hacking in all forms of media because of attention to detail, as Sam Esmail hired people in the field to make the cyber industry in the world of Mr. Robot more accurate.

 

Unlike Netflix who occasionally releases viewership ratings for their shows, Amazon's viewership is usually counted by third party analytics, which is the case for Mr. Robot. For the first episode of Mr. Robot, viewership added up to 1.752 million viewers, while the entire season averaged around 1.391 million. 

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Screenshot of DDoS/ Rootkit sequence in the pilot episode

Production:

As mentioned before, Amazon only had broadcasting rights for Mr. Robot and later added the show to their Amazon Prime streaming service after the release of the second season onward (although the first season was also added). They didn't produce or create the show. That credit belongs to the USA Network, who are a commercial company and rely on other international companies to broadcast their shows. The show also is produced by Anonymous Content,who are also a American company who have more of a international presence than USA network. The production budget for the show has yet to be revealed.

USA network has produced other shows like Suits, The Sinners, Colony and The Purge, while Anonymous Content helped produce shows like True Detective and 13 Reasons Why. In Mr. Robot, there are 10 episodes in the first season (32 episodes in the entire series).

The cast itself is made up of mostly unknown actors (and crew) that have mainly appeared in either short films, like Carly Chaikin, or in foreign films and shows, like Martin Wallström. The only recognisable actors would be the two leads - Rami Malek (appearing mainstream films like the Night at the Museum films as the Pharaoh, the remake of Olboy and the last Twilight film as a  vampire) and Christian Slater (a famous B-List actor from the 80s and 90s). The exact number of crew involved in Mr. Robot is unknown.

The idea for Mr. Robot came from a combination Sam Esmail's fascination with hacking culture and also the Arab Spring - young Arabic people retaliating against the government using social media (Esmail is of Egyptian decent). Esmail has also stated that the main character, Elliot, is a 'thinly-veiled version' of himself.

A pilot for the show was ordered back in April of 2014, and then a 10-episode series in December of the same year.  Production on the show began on April 13th, 2015 in New York, where the main sets were around Coney Island and Silvercup studios. Since the show is set in reality, there was not much use in terms of using CGI.

 

Editing for the show was done by Franklin Peterson (who edited the first three episodes of the show and the finale of season 1), where he experimented by combining 'jump cuts, various lengths of takes and shuffling scenes around in the episode' to create a sense of confusion within the episode to reflect Elliot's point of view.

 

What's interesting is that the cinematography, compared to other shows, where the rule of third places objects and characters in a way to connect the continuity within the editing between each scene, displaces the characters out of the frame. The cinematography was done by Tod Campell . Many viewers have described (like the video below by Ryan Holligner) it as the reflection the character's disconnection from society itself.

Besides streaming networks like Amazon Prime, Mr. Robot is also avaliable to buy digitally on the Google Play store, Youtube, iTunes, etc. DVD's of the series also became avliable on January 12th, 2016

After airing in the US on June 24th of 2015 (and stopped airing September 2nd (the episodes were released episodically)), it aired in multiple other English speaking countiries soon after, with Amazon previously broadcasting the show in the UK on October 16th, 2015, while Canada's Showcase  broadcated the show on September 4th, 2015 and Australia's Presto on August 14th, 2015. Before  that however, the pilot episode was aired May 27th, 2015.

Video about the cinematography and framing within Mr. Robot - video by Karsten Runquist

Short video on rule of thirds/ framing and editing in Mr. Robot - video by James Manning

Scene from episode 1, season 1 (eps1.0_hellofriend.mov) showing off Peterson's constent use of jump cuts, which makes you somewhat confused on where you are exactly in the scene because of how muddled up Elliot's mind is.

Video by Misdirection

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Key themes presented in Mr. Robot - video essay by Ryan Hollinger 

Above shot gives an example of Campell's out of frame cinematography. This scene depicts Elliot in his apartment, where he is crying about his crippling loneliness.

 

As the scene progresses, the camera pans closer to Elliot, but never centers Elliot within the frame in terms of the rule of thirds; he is instead constantly being put to the side of the frame.

This possibly symbolises how distant Elliot feels from society because of the metal issues that he has (that being social anxiety, depression, paranoia and delusions).

Marketing:

Mr. Robot has went above and beyond when it came to the marketing. Ever since its marketing inception on the day the pilot was released in May 27th of 2015, the marketing campaign aims to target hacking culture and American politics, with examples of the pilot itself. The first episode was released on multiple video streaming platforms like Youtube (where it gained 182,000 views as of June 10th, 2015) free of charge without being monitised, continuing the idea of an anti-capitalist show that shy's away from advertising the traditionalist capitalist way. And while the show premiered with commercials, it had very little commercial interruptions, by carrying 'a mere two-and-a-half minutes of ad inventory'. Not to mention in season 2, USA Network pumped up the marketing even more.

As mentioned before in the ownership section, USA Network also used the traditional use of posters and billboards depicting Rami Malek's (Elliot Alderson in the show) face being covered by anti-capitalistic statements like "Your Privacy Has Been Deleted" and "F**k Wall St.".

However, the later seasons of 2 and 3 up their game (even though the specification focuses on season 1, it's still pretty cool). USA Network created a 13 minute vr experience for the preview of the upcoming season 2 (planned to be released on July 13th, 2016). Then, a 'faux press conference' of Obama talking about fscoiety (the hacker group in the show) was released roughly two months before the season premiered. The most coolest advert was when Amazon implemented a Amazon Echo skill where owners of Amazon Echos can say "Alexa, give me the daily Five/ Nine" and the Echo will give news of events that occurred in season 3 (as it was released after the release of the third season).

Even after the third season had finished airing, the Mr. Robot twitter account is still active and promoting the show and referencing the real world, like this tweet about National Raspberry Pi Day. Official merchandise has also been released, like a book called Redwheel barrow which was a key part of season 2, as it was estinalially Elliot's journal that he wrote in through the season (and the book hinted at future events of season 3 as well). It also had a fun easter egg where there was a qr code in the journel where it could be scanned and redirect you to a website to play a few games and see cool easter eggs within the world of the show - click here for the website).

Ever since the release of the series, fans have contently made artwork about the show (and sometimes even selling them) and depicting their characters in their own interpretations of the show (like Tyrell wanting Elliot to be his lover (as seen on Tumblr pages)). The fandom isn't too big or crazy to make headlines (like the Rick and Morty fan base when they raided McDonald's for Sezchwan/ Teriyaki sauce), although at SDCC (San Diego Comic Con), fans of the show usually come in large packs dressed like Elliot with hoodies and fociety masks (which is the most popular choice - although sometimes, fans come and dress up as individual characters instead of fsociety members like Mr. Robot or Darlene.

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VR experience promotion for Mr. Robot Season 2 (released on July 21st 2016)  - video by Jaunt

Amazon Echo skil - Daily Five/Nine - Click here to go to the promoted website. Released October 25th, 2017 (Season 3 first aired October 11th, 2017)

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Photos of Mr. Robot Cosplayers at San Diego Comic Con 2016

All photos are clickable and you'll be redirected to the original site where the artwork or photo originated from.

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Tie-in book from Season 2, where Elliot writes about things that happen during season two