For this installment of The Art Of The Scene, director Yorgos Lanthimos talks about the witty opening to his film during the famous Fox Searchlight fanfare, and how that opening sets the tone for the entire movie.
Lanthimos also takes us behind the scenes of setting up the carriage fall that we see early on in The Favourite, as we’re first introduced to Emma Stone’s character.
He also talks about working entirely with natural lighting and candlelight for his evening scenes in the film.
The movie begins and I don’t know how many people notice it and it’s very subtle but during the Fox Searchlight fanfare. There are all these sounds that play tonally the fanfare. It’s that feeling where you think is that the tune or the sounds.
I worked with my sound designer and we wanted to do something different because the film actually starts with a musical piece. We wanted that fanfare to be subtle. Johnnie Burn who I’ve worked with before looked at creeks and sounds and bunnies in their cages to emulate the fanfare and it’s so very subtle. You wonder if that’s actually what it is. I love that it sums up the whole film. I love that whoever gets it, gets it, and some don’t.
It opens with this loud music and then quickly there’s a sharp quick dialogue which is representative of the film. It sets up the relationship. It starts off very royal, official and formal. As soon as the ladies-in-waiting go, it becomes relaxed and they’re witty and funny and you get it right away.
Falling Out Of The Carriage
That was a complicated scene because the main actor is someone who you want to focus on. Having Emma is a great gift because she stands out. She glows in that carriage and we actually tried to dirty her up for the scene. We were shooting in a small space without a lot of suspensions so it was challenging to get the right shots.
Technically, it was challenging because we dragged the carriage with an electric car so that the sound wasn’t intrusive. We had to find the right background.
We then had Emma falling out of the carriage and so to make that safe we dug a hole in front of the palace and we filled it with mattresses and covered it up with fake mud. She did it in two takes because we also only had two versions of her costume. It was one of the two times we used two cameras so we could catch her fall and be close.
We rehearsed it with her and her stunt double, but it all worked out.
The weather in London is not always grey and raining, but it was OK for the shooting because we had a lot of sunny days.
Working With Candlelight
This was challenging because we had to work with candles. There were limitations. Also, this was a historic house and there was a limit to how many we could light in a room at one time and how close it was to the wall and tapestry. We had to get around all of that. In the end, there were just a handful of scenes where we switched the light on.
Robbie Ryan is the kind of person who loves a challenge. So, he loved it and it was fun to work with candlelight for the film.
Olivia Colman Eating Cake
She is just amazing. She’s someone who can be so sad and tortured and funny and turn that around in a second. I liked having the servant running with the vase for her to throw up in. That scene is where we combined a lot of the film tonally.
You’re watching this woman who’s suffering and at the same time, it’s ridiculous to see her where she’s feeding her bunnies and she’s so lonely and bored. She’s also depressed. Only an actor like Olivia can pull that through and get the complexity of that through and make you feel for her.