1917, an upcoming World War I film, already looked good. But after watching a short behind-the-scenes video on the making of the movie, I have to say I’m really excited about this one. Not only does the camerawork look stunning, the entire movie is going to be one continuous shot cut together to make the film play in real-time, in the style of films like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948) and Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman (2014).
1917 was directed by Sam Mendes and tells the story of two British soldiers (played by George MacKay and Dean Charles Chapman) who have to go on a journey to warn their fellow soldiers about an attack.
The behind-the-scenes featurette, which is available on YouTube, includes discussions with Mendes as well as the director of photography, Robert Deakins (Blade Runner 2049), who explain some of the fascinating hurdles. One big hurdle, they explain, was the inability to really light anything since there are so many 360 degree shots.
“The dance of the camera and the mechanics all have to be in sync with what the actor is doing. When you achieve that it’s really beautiful and exhilarating,” Mendes says in the short film.
“Sometimes you have a camera being carried by an operator, hooked on to a wire, and the wire carries it across more land and it’s unhooked again and that operator runs with it and then steps on to a small jeep, which carries him another [365 metres], and he steps off it again and goes around a corner.”
You can see a bit of what he’s talking about in the film, like in this clip where two camera operators pull a camera off a dolly arm. It looks like quite an undertaking.