I know this film uses some of the same techniques producer Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) has used on other films, including a thriller that debuted at Sundance.
Susco: Yeah, Aneesh Chaganty's film Searching. It's a great movie. We were all in post at the same time so all our editing rooms were next to each other. It was really interesting to watch how other people were using the format in different ways. Aneesh's film has time cuts and a score. They actually pre-edited that movie before they filmed it, which is sorta the opposite of what we did. It was a wild experience to play around with this and realize everyone was flying by the seat of their pants a little bit. It was new to all of us. It was all really experimental.
The look of the film is so dense in the way it replicates the multi-tasking experience of using a computer. What was the biggest challenge in making the movie?
Susco:The biggest challenge was casting, and we were really fortunate to have a great casting director John McAlary, who in a very short period of time found people who were prepared and eager to take on a challenge like this. We went through 47 and a half pages of dialogue in the first day of filming. We did all the dialogue in four days on the first round of production. That takes some serious actors and I was really blessed to work with them. We were cognizant from the beginning that if the movie didn't feel authentic it wouldn't work. So that was one of the biggest challenges.
And in post we really embraced the idea that post-production is going to be even more of a rewriting experience than it is on a conventional film, and really leaning into the fact that the process meant we could literally try every single idea we have. And we did. We tried hundreds and hundreds of ideas. Fortunately, we were aided by working with Andrew Wesman, who was the editor on the original film, and he had evolved the workflow technologically speaking so we could do more things quicker and try more things at a speedier rate than in our first go around. Just adjusting to that was a challenge.
But it was also really fun! Once you realize it's sorta limitless in its mutability. You could invent whole sequences and scenes that you've never written or filmed out of full cloth and put them in the movie. You could do it in an hour. It was wildly adventurous. It was a challenge but also a real blast and an education.
Can you think of an example of something you invented full cloth in post production?
Susco: Yeah, one of the sequences was when Matias has the face to face direct phone call with [the film's villain] the Charon whose computer he took. We had a different version of that in the original script form of the movie, where that tension escalates and you realize there's something scarier than the scary bad guy and that there's something even he's afraid of. [Originally] it happened over text and as we were assembling a version of it, it didn't feel as scary as it should be.
I think it was Andrew who said, "This could happen visually. What if he's so scared he calls them?" Then we wrote that scene, we filmed Colin our actor doing it live and that scene was followed up originally with them being confronted by [hacker collective in the film] The Circle to prove their identity, and in edit we realized that should all happen at exactly the same time. The Circle should appear while they're having that face to face phone call. So the fun of the editorial process was being able to play around and stack things that are happening and finding out where the tension could come from.