Can you talk about some of the scenes with Bess, her mother Farmer, and Russell; especially when she can’t see them? Did you film those twice?
We ended up shooting a number of sequences. Those sequences with her mom and also those sequences when she meets Russell and Farmer. We would shoot them at different passes and then be able to literally take them out of the scenes. We would shoot the same shot, we did it as very simplistic motion control. It wasn’t really motion control, we actually literally counted as we moved the dolly. When we took the people out and replaced them, there wouldn’t be any shift in parallel access. We actually shot them multiple times. When we shot Bess, Farmer, and Russell within his office and we used all those mirrors and had Russell appear in the mirror, but not in the real space. That was really playing with the idea of to the audience he was there, but to Bess he wasn’t. It was trying to come up with different ideas about how someone’s there and then they’re not there. How can you construct scenes which are visually interesting, which allows the audience to see something that the characters can’t? We obviously rehearsed them a number of times. They knew where their eye lines were. Basically, choosing numerous takes of the same action.
Can you talk about the casting process, such as Shannon Tarbet as Bess, Aidan Turner as Russell, Ben Walker as Farmer, Matthew Broderick as dad, and Chloe as the mom? What was the casting process? How did you land those people?
The script was good itself when I got it. I loved the script and when we sent it out to various people that we were interested in, the response was fantastic. Basically, most everyone else wanted to do it. We wanted to create an ensemble cast, which was a combination of American and European actors. We always wanted to get a sense of people who had a lot of experience, but also people who are very new.
“…we wanted to create this mixture of characters and personalities which was reflected in their physicality as well.”
We got Matthew Broderick, who’s been in around 200 movies. Then we’ve got Shannon Tarbet and that’s her first film that she ever did, she came from theatre. It was a real combination of different kinds of characters. Part of the reason we cast Shannon was because she just did such an amazing audition and she really came alive. Having a combination of different qualities of actors, people who are more theatrical, some more film-based, some TV-based, I think created an energy. In the casting process, we had so many people who were interested in doing it, but we wanted to create this mixture of characters and personalities which was reflected in their physicality as well. Many reflected a bit in the real characters on the page are basically a group of characters who are nominally that relate to should get on but don’t or they have slightly dysfunctional issues getting on with each other. It’s all about identity.
It’s really people banging into each other and sometimes they don’t connect or don’t really understand what the other person wants. In the faux relationship between Farmer and Bess, neither of them really understands the relationship that’s really going on between them. One person loves the other person, but they don’t even realize they do, and so it is a kind of a misstep. In that casting process, talking to the actors about who we thought these people were, and little playlists for each one of the actors and a couple of films or photographs, not to describe their character, but I felt that this is something that they would like or something as a token. That was a really good jumping-off point, to work with them, and so we worked with them.
We worked with all the actors actually on location. We ended up going up to Hudson to the actual locations and read the dialogue and then acted the scenes out, just with the actors, without any of the crew, just because we thought that’s how you did it. The actors would respond to that, really responded to the fact that they would be living for a few days in these places and getting to inhabit the spaces they would actually live such as the Krafft house, the hospital, the apartments, office, and the streets all around the Hudson. In terms of the casting process, that was something that was very attractive to actors.