I also found an interview with Elle Callaham where she talked about Liz.
When I spoke to Elizabeth Mitchell about the movie, she told me a little about how the two of you worked together to craft the characters. Tell me a little about how you worked with the cast to bring these characters to life.
Well, I think that the characters that I write are just a starting point. I love the actors to bring their own experiences and ideas and intentions to the characters that they’re bringing to life. So what I’m bringing is just a baseline, and they kind of go from there.
Elizabeth brought so much calm control to Martha that I really loved because I think, in the representations of women we’ve had in the past in film, they are also often categorized as being very reactionary. Martha is very proactive and very calm and just strong. That was a version of a strong woman that I hadn’t seen in a while, and I really enjoyed her take on it.
Elizabeth also mentioned that the emotional climax of the film, the scene where Martha says goodbye to her daughter Claire, was largely improvised due to a bat problem on location. What did filming this scene look like on your end?
That scene is so special to me. I mean, we did have to move our shooting schedule around because there were bats in our location. We had to move all the scenes outside for the day while we moved the bats out. So we had to jump into that scene.
As a director, it wasn’t a situation that I really didn’t like putting actors in a situation that they haven’t prepped for, because you have a plan, you figure out — I mean, being an actor is hard enough where you have to shoot out of order. Your character is all over the place, and then you have to track where they are in every scene, because you don’t shoot it chronologically.
So already jumping to a new scene, especially the ending scene where you’re having this climactic moment between a mother and daughter, with 30 minutes’ notice is not the most ideal situation, but I think it really made the scene work. I mean, I think the most emotional conversations you have with people are spur of the moment, and what you really want to say just shines through.
So we had a script and we didn’t really have that much time to prep, so we just kind of rolled and just went with it. Elizabeth just channeled Martha and I think the lines that made it into film weren’t even the original written lines. We just kept rolling and figured it out as we went through that scene, which was really fun. It was very emotional, but it turned out really great. Also, it’s a night scene, and we shot it during the day, so they’re in a tent. They were real troopers about it. Pure professionals.