“It gives some more information around the story, giving little clues or different sides of the characters such as her and Jodie’s friendship, what’s happening in her life.”
There is also a Facebook page – ‘Awatahi Community News’ – with articles linked in some way to characters and the series’ backstory.
“One of the things about doing 15-minute episodes is that we couldn’t put in everything we wanted to – this gives you a bigger view or maybe will confuse you more,” says Marshall.
Another unique side to the show is that Detective Carter is not seen in the six episodes at all aside from touches of her hair, shoulder or hands.
As de Lautour explains, it really puts the person who is viewing the show in the seat of the detective.
“It brings into play your previous prejudices, or thoughts around that specific crime or that specific person. Each person viewing will have a different experience, not just because of the order they watch it in, but because they are ultimately different people.”
“It’s a different device that we were trying, and I think that it’s worked. It was a risk – particularly because we got one of New Zealand’s best actresses to play the role [Tandi Wright] – but you will see her face in the reveal episode,” says de Lautour.
Inspiration for Alibi
Marshall and de Lautour name-check Scandinavia dramas The Killing and The Bridge, Jane Campion’s hit Top of the Lake and HBO’s True Detective as a bunch of shows that inspired Alibi – but say they wanted this series to show a slice of life in small-town New Zealand.
“With the ambiguity of real-life crimes and the fascination – we wanted to create something that was gritty and grounded and true to life and kept you guessing,” says Marshall.
“We wanted to show different elements that can exist when you’re outside of a big town, and what people do to survive and the influences at play.”
Neither Marshall or de Lautour are from small towns – Williams is from Upper Hutt – but Marshall says something they were aware of when writing is that they didn’t want it to be generic or generalized, or have an Auckland-centric view.
"We wanted to show the stuff that’s not normally on our screens."
For the series, de Lautour directed with Marshall and Williams producing, and Marshall also doing a cameo as teacher Natalie Park’s girlfriend.
The trio didn’t tell the majority of the cast who the murderer was – though the writers and heads of departments knew – and following cast and friend screenings in Los Angeles and Auckland, say it was interesting to see the theories coming out.