Making a movie in the middle of a pandemic was a tough job.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Antoine Fuqua and star Jake Gyllenhaal talk about what it was like filming their new thriller “The Guilty”.
A remake of the 2018 Danish film of the same name, the film takes place in a 911 dispatch call centre, where Gyllenhaal’s demoted cop character receives a call that puts him to the test.
Taking place entirely within the call centre, with the actor mostly speaking on the phone for the running time, the crew decided to make things work when the COVID shutdowns began in 2020.
“What seemed advantageous at the time ended up being a bit of a curse,” Gyllenhaal says. “They were talking about shutting Los Angeles down almost every day. So, because Antoine subsequently tested negative for days afterwards, we decided to get a van that was outfitted with screens and park him a block away, hardwired to the stage where we were shooting. We’d FaceTime each other after these 25-minute long takes. He’d give me direction, I’d take it down, we’d do another take. We never saw each other in-person the entire shoot.”
Having worked with Fuqua before on “Southpaw”, Gyllenhaal adds. “Because of our relationship and because I trust him so much, I’ll go anywhere for him. I just knew, somehow, when we are challenged, Antoine and I always get better.”
For Fuqua, directing from inside a van became a challenge all its own.
“I had to have eyes on set [and] our main cameras, and a way to communicate with my actors via Zoom and phone, when it needed to be private,” he says. “Jake and I would only physically see each other from behind the studio wall. Jake would climb on a ladder and I would open the door to my van, and we would communicate. I definitely missed the close contact with my crew, but everyone stepped up and we found a way.”
He adds, “Watching Jake pull off his performance was difficult in the best way. Acting is also listening, but the difficulties of having to perform under COVID and the technical challenges was a challenge that Jake handled beautifully.”
‘The Guilty” premiere at TIFF next month, before hitting theatres Sept. 24, and then lands on Netflix Oct. 1.