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The titular online reality game at the heart of Nerve is one that's inspired by reality and the trials and tribulations of the internet. In the platform, you're either a paid watcher or a player, and if you're the latter you have to partake in increasingly risky games of truth or dare that result in you getting paid handsomely. In order to make Nerve and the participation of its users seem as realistic as possible, directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman watched a large number of high-octane viral stunt videos that they then used as inspiration for their action set-pieces. And it was through these viewings that they realized that they were way more intense than any action movie they'd ever seen.
Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman made this admission to me when I sat down to speak to the duo earlier this month while at the New York press day for Nerve. I asked them about the specific viral videos that inspired them, which led Ariel Schulman to explain,
I think when we first pitched on the movie - they had this concept, they had this script, we brought in a bunch of those Russian kid tower climbers. I don't know why it's so popular in Russia. But we'd been watching those, and they were more exciting than any action movie we'd been watching -- expect for John Wick.
We were like, 'If we can convey this kind of urgency in a Hollywood movie that would be great. Especially if it's about the internet, then it should look and feel like that.'
Those of you that haven't seen those videos, can click here to watch them (Warning: They're not for the faint-hearted). But how did the pair then go about adapting these videos for the big-screen? Rather helpfully, both Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost broke it all down:
Ariel Schulman: That's a good cinematic process. What is it about that video that feels so good, that's somehow more exciting than a scene in Mission: Impossible or something? And how can we do that? So you try to break it down, 'It's the go-pro that's attached to his forehead. What's the shape of that lens? What's the frame-rate? How many parts of his body are visible? How many cuts are there? What's the sound-design? Why do I feel like he could fall at any minute? Even though I'm pretty sure he lived because he posted that video?
Henry Joost: Or someone did. It's a lot about point of view. Putting the viewer in the perspective of the person who's doing something. That informed the decision to put a camera in Dave's helmet during the motorcycle, where he's riding blind-folded, so it gives you the experience of being blind-folded.
You can check out a snippet of my interview with the delightfully affable filmmaking pair of Nerve directors by watching the video below: