The East


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 shoot.


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 point-of-view.


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.