HOLLYWOOD – New Netflix True Crime documentary Open and Shut ‘better than Making a Murderer’.
Due to drop over the Holiday season, Netflix’s Open and Shut aims to rival such true crime hits as Making a Murderer and The Jinx. We spoke with director Alice Koppel and Nigella Mispink.
The Set Up
How did you conceive of the show?
AK: We knew we wanted to reveal something about the workings of the American Justice System in th 21st Century. And so we hired some drones and filmed a lot of court houses from the air.
NM: Also parking lots and wheat fields.
AK: Then we started to look at actual cases and interview photogenic lawyers who were snappy.
NM: We knew we had to try something different. Making a Murderer’s a huge hit but you can’t do that again. Just look at Season 2 of Making a Murderer.
AK: Plus Steven Avery isn’t returning our calls. And he’s in prison!
So this is the case of Mike Stephens.
NM: I don’t want to reveal too much, but Mike Stephens was accused of murdering his wife. He was a relatively prosperous middle class guy. He allegedly stabbed his wife to death with a knife in a supermarket.
AK: The murder was witnessed by about fifteen people and there is video footage from the store’s security cameras. The police arrested him and he confessed almost immediately.
NM: Not to give too much away, but when we investigated into his private life and the marriage between him and Isabel (his wife was called Isabel) we found a history of domestic violence and repeated public altercations.
AK: The police collected the evidence thoroughly and made literally no mistakes.
NM: The discovery process was fair and the defence lawyer Jim Task said that the prosecutor respected the defendent’s rights and that there was no coercion. Oh and this is really important: the prosecutor…
AK: A man called Clarence Wilkinson.
NM: Totally no high pitched Southern accent.
AK: He’s like Brooklyn accent.
Without spoiling the show what can you tell us about the verdict?
AK: He was tried and the trial had no real surprises. The Jury returned a guilty verdict and Mike was sentenced to life imprisonment.
NM: He’s currently in jail and has expressed no interest in appealing the verdict. Also because he pled guilty so…
And so if the show is as much of a success as you think, what about a follow up season?
AK: We tihnk that there is a lot we could do with the blood spatter evidence which wasn’t really examined because of the guilty plea.
NM: We believe that it will prove that Mike really did commit the crime.
AK: Which along with the other physical evidence, the witness statements and the video footage…
NM: And the confession.
AK: … make for a pretty damning case.