Graphic of a two-headed lizard from eXistenZ

Transcript: Cosmopolis: The Limo

PETER SUSCHITZKY: We spent so long being in the limo that we felt enclosed even when we were outside it. I think the idea was not to let the outside world intrude too much into the lives of the characters. I knew going into that film that it would be the most difficult film that I’d ever worked on, simply because the space was so restrictive. Or, I knew it would be so restrictive that to bring the changes, make one scene feel a little bit different from the preceding one, would be very hard. Fortunately, I was able to operate the camera from outside the car by remote control, because I don’t think there would have been any room for me, the camera, and the actors.

MICHAEL O’FARRELL: It was really funny. I went to see David on set and it was during one of the riot scenes. We were of course down at the lakeshore and it’s all green screen. But he had a couple hundred people in there for the rioters and he saw me coming in from the back and he went “Mike! Mike, come over!” And I went over and “Hi David, how are you? It’s great to see you again.” “Yeah. See all this? You’re not going to hear any of this!” (LAUGHTER) And I went “...right.” “No, really!” “O.K. So I’m here to record these people, you realize that, as effects tracks.” “Yeah, yeah. Go ahead and record them, but we’ll never use them.”

So it was really interesting from square one, the push and pull with me. And he’s made allusions to it in the press a few times about how nervous I was about losing the car sounds. And I wasn’t really, but it was a question of where do you go with it? Because the car does degrade over time. There’s that whole sequence where the riots happen, and so it’s very subliminal but the car is degrading and it’s getting noisier in that car. So it starts off dead silent, which was a real trick for Orest, especially. And then it starts growing. But you don’t notice it. So by the time he’s at the garage and things are going to hell in a handbasket, the car is actually making a fair bit of noise. It’s very subtle though, how it all worked out. And it worked out really well, I thought.

OREST SUSHKO: Yeah, it does sneak up on you. Again, when we ran the first reel, and we had a certain amount of city in there, David would say, “Can we go quieter? Can we go quieter?” And I’d look over at Mike. Mike would start to kind of thin the herd on some of the material there and we’d go even quieter. And David would say, “Are you O.K. with that?” And I’d say, “I probably need just a little bit more here for support, just to cover dialogue.” Because at that point we’re just sitting a lot - 99% or 100% - on production dialogue and some ADR. So certainly for the ADR, we need just a bit of coverage.

But yeah, it’s challenging going quiet like that, but as Michael said it does work and there’s huge power in that. And there’s measured doses of the outside world when Robert opens the limo door and walks into the cab to meet his wife, you hear the city just wham in. And I think that’s one of the coolest things that you don’t get the chance to experiment with that kind of dynamic a lot. So again, it’s that rise from nothing to huge [and] back to nothing. It’s really refreshing.

MICHAEL O’FARRELL: It’s unnerving. It really puts you on edge I think.

OREST SUSHKO: Yeah. I remember David came in to hear the first reel when we played it all back and I remember him commenting on the sounds that we had. We sort of played the limo with some interior perspective of the city. Mike’s sitting next to me. I remember David makes a comment after we ran the reel, he says, “Orest, it’s Proust-ed.” Meaning that the entire limo is cork-lined. So, ergo, let’s go for playing very minimalist in terms of sound design and stuff inside the limo. So there’s a power in that silence and I’m really glad he took it in that direction because it kind of allowed us to explore new ground.