Ben Stiller executive produces Escape at Dannemora, a story of two inmates who are serving life sentences for murder but escape in 2015 from Clinton Correctional Facility with the aid of Tilly Mitchell (Patricia Arquette). Mitchell is a married woman working at the prison who was involved in a love triangle between the two prisoners, Richard Matt (Benicio del Toro) and David Sweat (Paul Dano).
The show’s finale aired on Sunday with a 99 minute run time. Mitchell helping the prisoners escape shows how possible it is for someone to cheat the system. “The reality is if you talk to these people who work in this system, and that’s one of the reasons why this happened, is the fact that a place like Clinton still exists and it’s very antiquated and outdated, and the systems don’t work,” said Stiller. “In terms of the people who are living up there, they’re trying to make ends meet. The prison is a very important part of the economy up there. It’s actually the only economy. There are multiple prisons within a 75-mile radius.”
For Stiller, Escape at Dannemora was his debut as a limited series TV director. “To me, it was more about just being excited about telling the story and really, if it had been a movie, if it had been a five-part series, a ten-part series or a seven-part series, I felt like it was a story that I wanted to tell as a director,” said Stiller.
Stiller appreciates having the television platform to help him tell a better story. He continued, “you have a much bigger canvas to play within television with something like this, so I really had a great time. Definitely challenging, I’d probably do it a little bit differently, take a break sometime in the middle of shooting, which of course I never want to do, but the shoot went on for so long and that was probably the toughest part of it. But just to have a chance to tell the story is what I felt very fortunate to be able to do.”