"We had to do something extreme". The director of ‘Succession’ reveals his trick to record the impressive church sequence of the penultimate episode of the HBO series

I think you already know the “drill”: new monday and new chapter of ‘Succession’. The HBO series has broadcast what will be its penultimate episode and, although this has not been as stressful as last week’s, it has been very charged with emotions on the surface. Of course, from here, spoilers.

church and state‘ has been focused almost entirely on the funeral with all the pomp of Logan Roy amidst a) an increasingly complex and treacherous merger and b) significant discontent, including riots, over Mencken’s (Justin Kirk) victory in the election as we saw last week.

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So even though we don’t have so much stress, we do find ourselves with a moment in which so many emotions come to light that had been moderately repressed in the “longest week”. and this before even set foot in the church where the funeral was to be held. A ritual in which the HBO series returns to demonstrate that both at the level of script and direction they have no rival.

Record everything, everywhere

As happened with episode 3, with the death scene (or rather the live reactions to the news) aboard Connor’s (Alan Ruck) wedding yacht, Mark Myloddirector of this episode, wanted to capture in real time everything that was happening in order to present all the “emotional flow” that a scene like this requires.

As stated in the “Inside the Episode” of this ninth chapter, the sequence represented a logistical challenge:

“I thought the structure was very intriguing and emotionally tense. With all these hyper emotional scenes, there is trust involved. The challenge was getting the mix right in the church between the epic and the intimate, a really logistical challenge of just having it all recorded. We had a large number of pages in the church and very, very limited availability (…). With our usual way of shooting on two cameras, there was no way to do this huge number of pages and with so many incredibly important things, unless we did something extreme.”

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For this he decided to return to one of the most televised techniques in the world: multi-camera recording… but not so much with the typical three-camera structure of, for example, a sitcom but something more “big” like variety shows:

“The solution for me was to go back to my early days as a director, when I would do multi-camera, sketch shows, and even a big live variety show, where there were eight cameras with lots of external broadcast signals. And the learning from that was being able to shoot with a large number of cameras to record a lot of terrain very quickly.

So we designed a four-camera system, where the cameras didn’t record each other. So one camera could be on whoever was doing the elegy, another camera on the brothers, another capturing reactions… and again, we did it with the “roll and reload” system that I talked about in the episode. 3 so he could execute him just like we did in that scene of the death of Logan and the brothers finding out.”

There is no “pre-duel” anymore

Roman Succession

Thus, Mylod proposed a similar execution face to potential the emotional flow of all the characters attending the funeral. The idea of ​​continuously recording the entire sequence (which also means charging the cameras since they roll on celluloid) made it possible to build the emotions of each one in an impressive way:

«We did a continuous take several times from the moment the coffin was brought to the church, going through the procession, the eulogies… we executed it as a big block. That was an attempt to give the cast as much emotional flow as possible, something they always benefit from, in my opinion.

We rarely talk to the cast beforehand about a very emotional moment. It doesn’t benefit them. They have their process where it’s built and prepared in their heads and I don’t want to interfere with that. Once the shot starts, it becomes its own animal and you respond to what you’re seeing. I am completely guided by acting, it is raw and our modus operandi is to harness it as much as we can.»