Elisabeth Moss & Mark Duplass Tease The Secrets Of The One I Love, The League And More
The One I Love was a family affair. Watching the film, you might notice that it has only three actors--albeit three very well-known ones--and predominantly takes place in one location. The feature directorial debut of Charlie McDowell was a low-budget affair that was shot in just 15 days and with the help of family and friends. We've already told you how McDowell's girlfriend Rooney Mara contributed by pulling together costumes, but his step-dad Ted Danson helped out by playing the couples' counselor to Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss.
The script was not set in stone. McDowell and screenwriter Justin Lader worked out the story together, but to help keep the film feeling authentic and intimate, they allowed the actors to improvise a lot of their dialogue. But this is not the brand of improv favored by the Apatow mafia, an endless series of one-liners and lunacy looking for what pops. Instead, they began with a "scriptment," McDowell explains, " which is a script and a and treatment. Itís basically, every scene is very detailed-ly written in terms of the intricate plotting, where it goes and where the characters are emotionally and where theyíre heading. Then what was kind of off the cuff was just the dialogue."
Duplass explained how this worked using a scene involving Russian nesting dolls as an example. He said:
"Let me kind of walk you through how that happened. We knew we wanted a scene where the two characters would be connecting. We knew we wanted something that related metaphorically to the plot of the film and the Russian dolls were interesting for that reason, and then we knew we wanted Sophie to have really cool insights into women.
The script allowed shifting on set. Because of the delicate character work The One I Love requires, Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss had the rare opportunity to shoot most of the film in chronological order. To that end, sometimes the scriptment would change based on how an improvised scene turned out. Moss recalled, "Me and (Mark) and Charlie and Justin would get together and be like, 'I feel like sheís going in this direction a little bit too much and I donít want that impression to be given, so I think we need to--' and weíd literally take out an entire plot point because of what we just shot. So, it was this constant maneuvering through it and building this thing as you went along. Iíd never been part of anything like this."
McDowell confirmed that this workflow kept the screenwriter (Justin Lader) on set, and how that was an advantage that allowed the film to grow in an unorthodox but suitable manner. Duplass loved this style of working, and said, "It was great. It allows you to shuck and jive and keep your movie from falling on its ass, in my opinion. Because, again, youíre like 'In scene 13, they were more connected than I thought they would be, so we can afford to make scene 14 a little more disastrous, because weíve got a bedrock now.' We tried to shoot as much of the emotional scenes in order as possible, without giving too much away. There are quite a few effects in the movie and those had to be shot in a certain order to make it efficient, but in general, we tried to be able to build upon what was previously happening in the narrative."
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