You may have shut the door on the world for a weekend to binge-watch ‘Making a Murderer’. But filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi devoted ten years of their lives to working on it. Their ten-part series goes behind the scenes of the case of Steven Avery, the man convicted in 2005 of murdering 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach. Avery’s conviction came two years after DNA evidence exonerated him of a sexual assault for which he had spent 18 years in prison. Partners in life and work, Demos and Ricciardi even upped sticks to Wisconsin for a year and a half while making their doc series. We caught up with them to find out where they are at with season two.
What have been the major developments since season one?
Laura: ‘One of the most obvious is that Steven Avery now has a new attorney, Kathleen Zellner, who seems to have a distinguished career turning over wrongful convictions, and in many of those cases actually solving the crime. Steven is excited and grateful to have new counsel. And we’ve been talking to Kathleen Zellner about the potential of filming with her and continuing to follow the story.’
What about Brendan Dassey’s case?
Laura: ‘Technically speaking, Brendan’s case is where it was when the series finished. His habeas petition is sitting on the federal magistrate’s desk. Everybody is awaiting the magistrate’s decision on his case. There’s really no schedule or timetable for it. His lawyers told us they might have one or two days’ notice.’
Has Steven Avery seen ‘Making a Murderer’?
Laura: ‘No. He put in a request to the prison warden, but it was denied.’
How did you first hear about the case?
Moira: ‘It was November 2005, and we saw Steven Avery’s story on the front page of the New York Times. The headline read: "Freed by DNA, now charged in new crime," which instantly leapt out to us.’
You made the series with a tiny budget. You moved to Wisconsin for 18 months and worked day jobs to make ends meet. What kept you going?
Laura: ‘It was not an easy ten years for sure. When we made the decision to pursue it in January 2006 obviously we didn’t know how epic the story would be. At that point Brendan Dassey wasn’t part of the case. By August 2007 what we had captured with our camera felt like something so important to be preserved. So many important pieces of the story were being missed. At times we started feeling like the history was being forgotten or even at times rewritten. We felt a great burden. If we didn’t make use of all of our research and footage and find a way to do this right, all that stuff would be lost for us.’
What personal sacrifices did you have to make?
Laura: ‘We put this above all else for a decade. It wouldn’t have been possible if Moira and I were not a couple in real-life. That enabled us to work. The downside was that at other times things suffered. Starting with our personal relationship, and other relationships. We missed lots of family functions, celebrations and milestones of people we care about.’
Moira: ‘If Laura had been working this hard on a project for someone else I would never have seen her!’
'Making a Murderer' is available to watch now exclusively on Netflix.
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