Me (center, in vest), Ellen Page (far left),
Shiloh Fernandez (second from left) and the other actors playing members
of The East in their hideout, which we described in the script as a
“mansion reclaimed by the wild.” It was originally supposed to be a
rundown house in the woods, but we ended up shooting in a former
“alternative lifestyle” nightclub in downtown Shreveport, LA, that our
production designer Alex DiGerlando transformed into what you see here.
He even added the tree.
Brit Marling (who plays Sarah) being trailed through the woods by
cinematographer Roman Vas’yanov and his crew. Like me, Roman is
young, but he surrounded himself with seasoned professionals. It was a
terrific marriage, and we became very close over the course of the
Alex DiGerlando and I built this charred-out wall in some open attic
space. He also designed and executed the wallpaper, and the contrast of
the lace-trimmed hoodie Brit is wearing against the stylized
wallpaper—with the ambience and texture added by the
fog—made this one of my favorite shots.
This is from the first day of filming. The scene called for Ellen
Page (who plays Izzy) to lie on the ground naked. Everyone was wondering
how she was going to handle it. She came on set and dropped her robe and
without a second thought lay on the freezing cold field. The bar was set
pretty high after that. Here’s Ellen, wrapped in blankets, and Brit
taking a breather between takes.
I learned in film school that point-of-view makes all the difference.
So even though this scene is to be Izzy’s big showdown moment, we shot
it from the perspective of Sarah (Brit, here with Alex Skarsgard as
Benji). I wanted to make sure we also captured it from Sarah’s privileged
Roman Vasyanov, Alex DiGerlando and I were driving around Shreveport
when we passed by an abandoned, boarded up house. We went to explore the
space and discovered this great cellar space. Alex brought in the
fluorescent lights, the toilet Ellen is sitting on, the electronics and
presto! We had The East House basement. We dug a hole in our main set,
put a trap door above it, and added a couple steps. The actors went into
the hole and appeared in this basement—even though the two spaces
were a couple miles apart. Low-budget movie magic.