The director of Don’t Look Up, Adam McKay, reveals why he made changes to his signature filming style for his latest sci-fi-comedy feature. The Netflix feature stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as astronomers Dr. Randall Mindy and Kate Dibiasky, respectively. The supporting cast boasts an impressive ensemble including the likes of Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Rob Morgan, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Mark Rylance, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, and Ariana Grande, just to mention a few. The film has received generally positive reviews and picked up some early awards traction, including recognition as one of the Top 10 of 2021 from AFI and the National Board of Review.
The plot of Don’t Look Up revolves around DiCaprio and Lawrence’s Michigan State astronomers as they discover a potentially planet-destroying comet and subsequently embark on a large-scale media tour to warn humanity of the fast-approaching threat. With the imminent danger of the comet looming in the background, the film unfolds as a satire of the indifference of the media and the government. Following its release on the streaming service, Don’t Look Up accrued the most hours viewed over the course of a week in Netflix’s history.
In the most recent behind-the-scenes featurette video for Don’t Look Up released by Netflix Film Club, McKay reveals why he decided to switch over from his signature handheld style of filming for his latest feature. He states that he wanted the film to feel “cleaner” and “bolder,” and have a “pop of colour and energy,” by using techniques that made the faces of the characters “really hit on the screen.” He also mentions that, while he stuck to a “fairly traditional” style of framing, he gave himself room to “blend the two” methods whenever the “chaos” in the story ensued. Check out his full quote below:
With Don’t Look Up, I made the choice very early on not to do the docu-style handheld. I kept it a little cleaner, a little bolder. We tended to use slightly wider lenses to let the characters’ faces really hit on the screen. I wanted it to have a little pop of colour and energy. And if you look at our framing, it’s fairly traditional. But when you get into the kind of maelstrom and the chaos of our insane culture processing it, that’s when we kind of let it fly and we tend to blend the two. Which is kind of the way the world feels now. The world feels like it’s pummeling you with punches while at the same time, pretending to be very classically composed.
Adam McKay is well-known for prominently utilizing the handheld camera style for most of his films, made more evident by the fact that he cites American director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum) and English filmmaker Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People) as his main sources of inspiration. He mentions that, since his 2006 directorial effort Talladega Nights, he has constantly attempted to enhance his style of filmmaking with each project by “shooting as well as we possibly can.” Many would argue that Don’t Look Up is where his vision truly comes to fruition, as he perfectly manages to combine the more conventional moviemaking approach with his unique style.
McKay is responsible for making some of the best comedy films of the last few decades, with the likes of 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, 2008’s Step Brothers, and 2010’s The Other Guys. However, 2015’s The Big Short marked a turning point in his career as the Oscar-winning film presented him with the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, such as Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt. The fact that Don’t Look Up is primed for awards season contention will only boost McKay’s reputation as one of the top directors working in the industry today.
Next: Why Adam McKay’s Next Release Will Be Nothing Like Don’t Look Up
Source: Netflix Film Club