It feels like one take but you must have shot loads to get the powerful performance you’ve captured?
Yes there were a lot of takes with different characters. I wanted to capture the most authentic performances I could.
What was your method for casting the actor or did you already have her in mind?
The emphasis was entirely on street casting. We cast the net wide around Europe. I was looking for characters with stories in their faces who could exhibit true emotion without self-consciousness. Benedicte was one of my favourites. We found her in Paris. There’s such depth to her face and she’s such an interesting lady on so many levels.
Lighting plays a key role in creating a curiosity about what she is looking at – an accident out the window perhaps – as well as supporting the emotional performance. Did the lighting evolve in post or was it carefully planned in pre-production for the shoot?
The lighting was carefully planned beforehand. For me it was an integral addition to the idea and shoot. It was designed to reflect the magic of television in its purest form…the sensation of being psychologically and physically absorbed in the imagery of the action, being bathed in both its colours and stories.
The changing colours were also intended to reflect the changing emotions and moods we experience as viewers. The lighting was preprogrammed on rotation to ensure it wouldn’t intrude upon the characters’ spontaneous reaction to the footage they were watching. Its effect on the subject during takes was actually quite hypnotic.
Were there any key influences that you used?
We used a version of the technique pioneered by Errol Morris in films like The Fog of War. I’ve admired him and the techniques he employs to capture raw emotion in his documentaries for a long time. I’d always wanted to use the Interrotron system. It allows the filmmaker to capture an unmediated, spontaneous response from the subject. So the emotion you are witnessing on camera is true. No premeditation. In this take, Benedicte was watching emotive news footage and responding to it genuinely in real time. I didn’t want to fake the emotion at any point so this system was invaluable.
I’ve always liked the idea of breaking down the barrier between the viewer and the actor. Being given the chance to do that by CHI via this Samsung commercial felt like a real privilege. We were all really excited by the process.