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Here’s How VFX Artists Brought The White Lotus Opening Credits to Life

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Season 2 of The White Lotus has given viewers male nudity, threesomes and awful rich people aplenty—but for many fans, the satirical drama’s most widely appreciated moment is its title sequence, with its catchy-as-hell theme tune and rich visuals.

In anticipation of tonight’s season finale, filmmakers Mark Bashore and Katrina Crawford from the studio Plains of Yonder spoke with Vanity Fair about the artistic influences that went into the show’s unskippable opening credits, and the many allusions to the plot and characters that are hiding in those frescos.

“It’s eye-catching, but it also has to be sort of cheeky and erotic and profound,” says Crawford. “The surface is not always what represents what’s underneath.”

Classical art and Greco-Roman mythology played a huge role in the conception of the credits, and Crawford and Bashore reveal that the trompe l’oeil at the Villa Tasca in Palermo, Siciliy were a major inspiration.

“At times, the imagery had a lot of metaphor in it, but also didn’t have enough to make a true arc and take things where we wanted to take them, in terms of mischief and things you’ve never seen before, especially on ancient paintings,” says Bashore. “So that’s where the technical challenge really came in: How do we paint new paintings, or paint in with these and make them look legit and feel like they somehow belong?”

The team had a lot of fun finding artistic references which they could pair up with each character to appear alongside the cast names in the titles, such as the couple on a donkey which show up alongside Jon Gries to represent Tanya and Greg’s Vespa journey, and the dog cocking its leg against the nude statue for Theo James. “It’s funny, but what men do best is lift their legs on things,” says Bashore. “Sometimes the simplest things, like a dog lifting his leg at the bottom of a statue, can do a world for a shot.”

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