“High Maintenance” creator Ben Sinclair is shuffling around set in his colored socks while shooting one of the final scenes for the third season of his HBO anthology-style series. The fact that he’s filming inside a Brooklyn yoga studio is probably only partly to blame.
His directorial style is flexible, laid-back, detail-oriented and quite fitting for a show about marijuana.
“We were going to film another episode [today], but one of our actors became unavailable so we had to cancel it,” Sinclair says in between takes one afternoon last month, adding that the unnamed actor “fell ill.” “We wrote this one really fast. This was a last-minute addition and usually, because we pull from life and stuff like that, our lives right now were this, so we pulled from this.”
The premise of the scene filming inside Abhaya Yoga Gowanus lifts from that last-minute cancellation, paralleling reality in more ways than one.
“Girls” star Jemima Kirke is a Brooklyn actress — both on the screen of “High Maintenance” and off — whose project is impacted when an actor needs to be replaced onset. Kirke plays herself in the episode, only a “higher maintenance” version, and shares screen time with season one’s marathon dance teacher, Gloria (Alex Auder).
“We’ve pulled some of our most fun episodes out of a last-minute writing session, which I guess is because we don’t have time to second guess ourselves,” Sinclair says.
He writes alongside his ex-wife and show co-creator, Katja Blichfeld. Together, they created the premise for the series in 2012, when it first appeared online as an eight-to-12-minute web series.
Each episode tells its own story, offering a window glimpse into the lives of New Yorkers who call upon their local cannabis dealer The Guy, played by Sinclair.
The upcoming season, Blichfeld says, will be mostly about “moving on,” for both its central and individual pop-up characters.
“Whether that be moving on from a relationship, moving on from a career, moving on from death, life; it’s just about all right, the worst happened, now what? How are we going to continue after the worst stuff has already happened?” Sinclair adds, explaining that these revelations stem from both real-life political and personal references.
Though it’s only the series’ third season, The Guy has technically been riding his bike around the city with a pack full of pot for years. Sinclair and Blichfeld are now at the point of wondering how long he’d realistically remain interested in dealing.
“He’s trying to figure out what the point of living is, you know, a thing that happens to a lot of people in their 30s,” Blichfeld says.
As far as New York City’s changing pot regulations — which made it so that smoking marijuana in public could result in a summons instead of arrest as of September — the co-creators suggest The Guy’s storyline might not be widely impacted.
Keeping tight-lipped plot wise on the typically closed set, they tease there’s at least one season three episode projected to touch on the subject, but that it isn’t expected to be an overbearing theme. “It’s definitely something we think about,” Sinclair says.
“Now, since we’ve introduced The Guy’s biography into the episodes, how much do we really want to see [about him]? How much do people need to see? We’re testing the limits of that, while also trying to stay curious about people who aren’t connected to the overall concept of the show,” he adds.
The Guy is set to return to his drug-dealing ways early next year. An exact return date has not yet been announced by the network.