How do you tell the story of coronovirus epidemic? How would the events of the past year – both sinister and intangible, global and intimate, diffuse but interconnected – inevitably detest for future audiences?
Historically, epidemics have found a way to resist collective memory. After the bubonic plague in London, it was more than half a century before the arrival of a permanent literary account of Daniel Defoe’s “A Journal of the Plague Year” in 1722. The flu pandemic of 1918, which killed tens of millions of people worldwide, left a remarkably small footprint on 20th-century literature and film.
This epidemic will be different. Contemporary television show about life during Kovid-19 Already available, offering a preview of how you can remember the moment, even if it remains far from resolved. Recently, he was associated with the first major feature film to be set during the epidemic – “Stop it“(HBO Max), in which an unhappy couple (Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor) use forced downtime to plot an unfair heir at the London department store Harrods.
I called “Locked Down,” Steven Knight (writer-director of “Locke”), as a screenwriter in Gloucestershire, England, to talk about what he wrote about this era, archaeologists dating back to this era and earlier Has exposed the value of. Emptying the “news” of history. These are parts of the conversation.
When did you first think of writing about the epidemic?
Steven knight It was the late summer season, about six weeks before shooting began. I started writing an exchange between two people on Zoom just for fun. It was an idea like “Locke”, [the 2014 Tom Hardy film that takes place almost entirely during a long, late-night drive], You can take the limit and do something with it. At the same time, I was talking to Doug Liman [the director of “Locked Down”] About another project, and we started talking about Zoom and Lockdown and how it was affecting us. And then we started imagining that we could make a film, and were talking about plots, and Harrods, and then we just did.
There are some zoom scenes in the film, but it apparently changed from that initial idea. What did you make in a different direction?
Knight We thought it would be a good idea to cut between zoom and live action, so you can see the characters moving into the real world. But we still wanted to maintain it until we reached Harrods. We had such great actors, I think it would be a shame to confine them to just the head and shoulders.
Do you always know who the characters were?
Knight I knew that I wanted a relationship that would outperform one person with another. In the normal world, they would be falling apart, but, due to the crisis, they are forced to live together. Their identity is defined by what they do for a living: one delivery driver, the other’s really good performance in a marketing company. What happens when those definitions become less important because they are no longer working? Do they go back to when they fell in love? This is what I wanted to explore, as well as the madness going on in London at the time.
What aspects of life did it feel important to include in the midst of an epidemic? Were you keeping a note?
Knight What was interesting to me was that the vocabulary changed, the way new words and phrases were created. People were responding to a completely new situation, so you get expressions like “social disturbances”, “new normal” or “Cidid-friendly”. Even the way people talk and the way they behave on a zoom is something new. The idea of what your background is, or who you are, is identified by the bookcase behind you. If you were an archaeologist digging in this time period, then you would see all these small changes in the culture.
Was there a moment with the screenplay when you were convinced that the film would work?
Knight At a certain point I came to know that a large department store in London emptied all its expensive stock. They feared there would be riots and looting, and so, over a period of five days, all this stuff was taken out in a kind of panic. I got to talk to people at Harrods, and they said that they have franchise managers from places like Gucci, who are carrying millions of dollars of goods in plastic shopping bags and going to black cabs.
When reality gives you such an unusual chaos that is normal, a situation that no one has been through before, writing about it can be quite euphoric – it’s like stepping on fresh ice. It also felt like an opportunity offering some opportunities, who find an opportunity. There is not a good crisis about Churchill expression.
Was there many drafts of the script?
Knight No, I did not have time. For better or worse, I would write the first act, and the production crew would start preparing to shoot it, and then I would write the second act, they would start preparing for it, and so on.
Was it challenging to work in this way? With no safety net?
Knight I personally love it. It’s like a theater – it’s almost live. You just have to take it out. And it seemed the right way to do it in this situation, because we wanted to prove that it could be done. This is ridiculous, now these are all new ways and techniques of filming [during] Kovid. But we were doing it before.
I think when most people think about their lives in the past year, sticking at home in sweat or pajamas all day, it doesn’t seem particularly cinematic. What about that experience you lent yourself to watch onscreen?
Knight I am always attracted to the situations that surround people. I think if you let two people get stuck in the elevator for a long period, their conversation will increase so much. There is something about that environment that gives you a shortcut in which people are down. And the thing I’m interested in is the way people talk, what they reveal when people are in that type of situation.
There is a French filmmaker whose name I have forgotten who said, “If you point someone at the camera and ask them to talk about themselves at the end of four minutes, you will be convinced That they are crazy. ” In daily life, we are delivery drivers, or we are marketing personnel, we are the thing defined by our roles. But when all of that goes uncontrolled, when everyone is just still and can’t go anywhere, then they are really, I think, starting to surface. I am sure this happens in huge feats and crises and war. But when it happens in these small situations, such as in “Locke”, where it moves a man from one place to another, that’s the isolation I see as a microscope.
The other big question that hangs on a project like this is its timing. I think many people are not sure they want to see the spring of 2020 again. How did you face that problem in writing the story?
Knight I believe in what you write. If you already have a conversation, “Is this going to be popular?” I don’t think I can do that. At the time when we started it, I was writing a lot of other things as well, but this thing kept coming up. The great thing is that people have a choice. If it is painful, then I fully understand that is the case for some people. But I’m hoping for something like this – it’s a human reaction to adversity throughout history. Either way you try to make sense of it, or you look for a silver lining.
What is your appetite for watching movies about the epidemic?
Knight Well, I think it’s going to be like all other things like the Second World War: novels, movies, comic books. We were very keen to be the first. We may not be the best, but we are the first, and we have done this even when it was fresh and raw. History tends to organize things, find patterns, and discard things that do not fit the pattern. And I think that as it goes on, it will probably be a scene that had its beginning, middle and end, and that some things were inevitable, while others were never going to happen. But, in the midst of it, like a war, you do not know who is going to win. You do not know what is going to happen. And I think it is important to capture that phase of uncertainty as it really was.