The unbroken shot that makes up “Silent House” is a unique visual gimmick, but there’s another big factor at hand: the close camerawork that almost never leaves Elizabeth Olsen’s side, giving us an intensely personal perspective throughout the film. As harrowing as that camerawork is to experience as an audience member, it doesn’t compare to how it must’ve felt to film it firsthand.
Talking to MTV News, Olsen tried to explain how the filming process broke down, and how comfortable she was with the closeness by the end of shooting.
Asked how close the camera was, Olsen stuck her hand out about a foot away from her face. “The DP [director of photography] who shot it, Igor Martinovic, he does lots of documentaries so he’s really good at not getting a shadow or reflection anywhere,” she said. “He and I felt like we were dancing together the whole time. It felt like this choreographed ballet.”
Martinovic has previously logged experience as the DP on “The Tillman Story” and “Man on Wire,” documentaries acclaimed for their camerawork and personal feel. Given the singularity of “Silent House”’s style, that experience served well on set and for his collaboration with Olsen.
“I so truly enjoyed working with him,” she said. “We had this amazing dialogue where we literally would be filming a take and he’ll tell me to walk faster or walk slower because we can’t use editing either, so we have to figure out the pace while we’re working.”
“He’d be like, ‘Head over there,’ and so I’d put my [lamp] there,” she added. “It was really interesting to do that and also because we enjoyed working with each other. It almost was cooler to not have the crew around. It was almost something that you benefitted from, truly playing make believe by yourself.”
Think about all of that when you’re watching “Silent House,” and how awkward you might feel having to emote with a camera a foot away from your face. That’s what makes Olsen and Martinovic both professionals rather than some college amateurs fumbling around. Still, kudos for movie magic.
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