The images of “Severance”: Ben Stiller on the inhuman world of Lumon

Stiller: Jeremy Hindle had constructed the set in such a way that all the corridors were connected and took up the entire soundstage. In fact, everything led somewhere and there were lots of little jogs and side hallways that you could walk through that felt like a maze. We knew we were going to get a sequence of Adam getting off the elevator and walking towards MDR the first time we saw him go there, and I wanted to make sure you felt like it was a really long walk. And also it was really confusing. We talked a lot about the possibility that it would be different every time someone went to MDR, there would be like a different route, so you could never figure it out. But then it was also a question of the reality of the show. And we ended up deciding that there should be a route to get there, but we shouldn’t necessarily know what it is.

So when we were working on this sequence at the very beginning of filming, we shot different shots of him walking down the hall with a blanket in front of him, behind him, his point of view. And then at the end, I said, let’s just make a plan where we stay on Adam the whole time. It’s going to be really, really long, but let’s see how it feels.

Won : I think the hallways are one of the most visually difficult parts of the series to hack. Every time we had a hallway sequence, we had to take a minute and be like, we have to talk about it with the AD, with the art department – ​​we need everyone…. Every time we ask ourselves, how can we make it new? How do we make it different? We had to use many different devices.

Stiller: But no Steadicam.

Won : Yeah. No Steadicam was important. In fact, a lot of people in the film world have asked me if it’s Steadicam, and I’m like, no, it’s a rickshaw or a cart.

Why wasn’t Steadicam important?

Won : It wouldn’t. If you look at it, there’s never any top-down action, it’s very sturdy. When you’re an actor and you add a human to control the camera like that, it’s not as precise. And we wanted that robotic feel. [On the severed floor] when we pan, when we move the camera, we didn’t want it to feel manipulated by a human. There was a sort of rigid oversight that was part of that as well.

Stiller: We ended up having to do Steadicam a bit later in the series a few times, but it was our rule, whatever would happen. One thing about the hallways that I always stressed about was the sound. Like the walk in episode three, when they’re walking towards Lifetime – it’s really tough when there’s a lot of dialogue and the actors are walking. Everyone is working hard to soften the bottom of the shoes or put some felt on them or things like that, but they couldn’t put on noise-cancelling blankets. When I think of hallways, I just think for season two we need to find a way to make sure footsteps don’t get in the way of the sound.

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