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NYCC 2019: Why the 'scale and scope' of TV drove Alex Garland to make Devs

By James Comtois & Matthew Jackson
Devs - Sonoya Mizuno

Ex Machina and Annihilation director Alex Garland is making his television debut with the eight-episode miniseries Devs, and at New York Comic Con on Saturday fans got a first glimpse at what the filmmaker and his talented cast have in store for the FX series. When an attendee of the Devs panel at the Hammerstein Ballroom asked Garland, well known for his film work, why he wanted to give TV a try, he noted he was really interested in having eight hours to tell a story instead of two.

"The scale and the scope was really attractive," Garland said.

Garland, who also wrote the Danny Boyle films 28 Days Later and Sunshine, also mentioned feeling frustration with part of the filmmaking process where he'd make a film, hand it off to a distributor, and have the distributor ultimately decide not to distribute it.

"Maybe this isn't the right space for me," Garland said of the business side of filmmaking, admitting that his work "is not mainstream."

“On a personal level, I thought, ‘Maybe television is a better home for me.’ And on a writing level, I wanted the eight hours," he added. "I feel like everything I have learned up to this point I have put into the show. I couldn’t love it more.”

That said, Garland noted he's still interesting in making films, while also saying that he enjoyed a considerable amount of creative freedom and control making Devs. Despite the sense of freedom that came with the move to television, Garland will not necessarily stick around there. Devs is planned as a miniseries that concludes after its eight episodes.

"I like stories that end," he confessed.

Devs_Nick Offerman and Sonoya Mizuno

Devs will follow Lily Chan (Sonoya Mizuno), a young software engineer working at the cutting-edge Silicon Valley company Amaya. When her boyfriend dies of an apparent suicide, Lily investigates in the hope of proving foul play. What she finds will lead her to Amaya's "enigmatic" CEO Forest (Nick Offerman being his usual captivating self) and the top-secret development divison of the company, known as Devs. What follows is the unspooling of "a technology-based conspiracy that could change the world."

In a brief 15-second teaser released by FX after the NYCC panel, we get just a taste of Forest's technological vision. Check it out:

Devs | Season 1: Ring Teaser | FX

Garland wrote and directed all eight episodes of Devs and also served as an executive producer. In addition to Mizuno and Offerman, the show's cast includes Jin Ha, Zach Grenier, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Cailee Spaeny, and Karl Glusman.

A self-confessed "science nerd," Garland said he got the idea for Devs by thinking about determinism, the belief that everything that happens in the world is a result of cause and effect.

"This suggests there's no free will," said Garland. This led to him thinking about quantum computers, which could in theory predict the future.

We'll see how this weird mix of philosophy, technology, and conspiracy all plays out when Devs premieres on FX in 2020.

Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of New York Comic Con 2019, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.