SXSW 2019 VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Helen Hunt, Jon Tenney & Adam Randall On Movie ‘I See You’
Oscar winner Helen Hunt and Jon Tenney co-star in a new independent thriller film called I See You, which premiered at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, this month.
The pair discussed the film alongside its director Adam Randall exclusively with uInterview.
“The film begins with the disappearance of a young boy, it’s the second boy who’s gone missing within that week and we follow the investigator who’s looking into what’s happened,” Randall explained.
“It’s strangely reminiscent of a case that happened 15 years before,” he added. “Equally, we’re at his home with his wife and looking at the problems that are happening within their marriage due to infidelity, and also the increasingly strange goings-on happening inside the house that seem to have a supernatural element to them.”
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Hunt, 55, added there are some terrifying plot “twists” throughout the film.
“Usually, you say ‘cut’ and I talk to a director and go, ‘Did we get the intention that we wanted?’ And this time, Adam would say ‘cut’ and we’d go, ‘Was that scary? I think it was scary. Ok, let’s move on,” Hunt added as Randall and Teneny laughed. “The goal was super clear, and I liked that.”
Tenney quoted Randall in describing I See You as a “puzzle piece” and also appeared careful of not revealing too much about the film’s plot.
Tenney added that despite the tense mood of the movie, the atmosphere on set was very relaxed.
“It was a really chill atmosphere, which was great,” he said. “You felt easy and comfortable and oddly not rushed, even though we had a short schedule.”
Tenney then turned to Randall and praised the director for not rushing the film and keeping the story’s “subtleties” during the shoot, which lasted only 20 days.
The two actors and Randall emphasized how they really strived to make almost every scene — even something as small as the scrubbing of a frying pan — as “tense” and chilling as possible.
Randall revealed that the last scene they shot for the film was one of the most difficult, because it was filmed in the woods at nighttime and in the cold just hours before sunrise, and Hunt was feeling mildly sick that day.
Randall said he felt that for this particular film, he felt he needed a cast that “was brave enough” to not be immediately liked by the audience.
“You’re not automatically going to be liked by the audience because you’re sort of slightly removed from them,” he explained. “So there was this sort of courage in that [sense] that I was really looking for that [Hunt and Tenney] both have.”
Q: What’s the plot of the film?
A: Randall: So the film begins with the disappearance of a young boy. It’s the second boy who’s gone missing with in that week. We follow the investigator who’s looking into what’s happened it’s strangely reminiscent of a case that happened 15 years before and then equally we’re at his home with his wife and looking at the problems that happening within their marriage due to infidelity and also the increasingly strange goings-on that are happening in the house that seem to have a supernatural element to them.
Q: How do characters fit into the plot?
A: Hunt: There are some twists in the plot that make me afraid to speak that’s what’s happening right now it’s here’s what I can say about working on it is that usually you say cut. I talk to the director and go did we get the intention that we wanted. It’s important that she and this time Adam would say cut and we go, ‘was that scary? I think it was scary that was pretty scary. Ok, let’s move on like the goal was super clear and I like that. [Tenney]: Yes, I play, I can’t say anything … I don’t want to spoil everything because there is, as Adam said earlier, it’s a puzzle piece so you don’t want to give away all the pieces of the puzzle. But I am the lead investigator of the the missing boy at the beginning, so you follow that case and and yeah there’s strange goings-on in the in the house that you question.
Q: What was the atmosphere like on set?
A: [Tenney]: Well I can say as an actor working with Helen and Adam was it was it was great because as tense as we want the picture to be there was no tension on the set. It was a really, really chill atmosphere, which was great you felt easy and comfortable and and oddly not rushed even though we had a short schedule. But it was great I have to say and that I think it allowed everyone to do to do good work and you were interested in the subtleties which was it’s always nice. You know, it was a 20-day shoot which was shorter than we expected, but I think you know we were very focused on making the exact same film as if it would have been a 30 day shoot, you know, in terms of how to make it suspenseful. Ok, you know, I don’t wanna keep repeating the same thing but it’s difficult film because we don’t want to give anything away but certainly the way that we plan the shoot from very first reading it almost immediately just started to write down shots and a kind of visual palette for the film. It was very much thinking about particular stuff – how do we create this sense of dread from the very top you know how does it feel like there’s a sort of black cloud hanging over the film. So it was really about the shooting style and then the way that this sort of camera is related to the actors. [Hunt]: I mean it first of all we talked for a year or so I felt like very much on the same page with you that was fantastic. Little subtle things like how do you make the cleaning of the frying pan tense. I remember feeling like with another director that we wouldn’t have trusted it like that’s not enough. But I felt like we said that’s what we wanted to do we’re gonna do that, and I’ve known Jon forever and his work forever, so I knew that we were gonna you know be like-minded somehow in the work so that’s really what makes a short indie possible to have it be a fun creative place to be.
Q: What did you enjoy most about the shoot?
A: [Tenney] Well, see this isn’t this is gonna be again a dodgy answer because I don’t want to give things away, but I enjoyed that I was watching Adam construct the sequences in the in the piece the structure of it all is what I really loved as opposed to like one particular scene. It was the way they fed into each other, so it actually made things very cohesive because sometimes when you’re doing a film things feel disjointed because you shoot out of sequence and out of order and you’re doing little tiny pops. For some reason, this all felt very, very cohesive in the making of it. I mean you know I can tell you what the hardest [thing was]. There’s was the last day we shot in the woods, and we had a lot to shoot but we only had that day so that was difficult because you’re literally fighting the sun. You know, it’s not like you can just keep going. Helen had a terrible cold, so I mean it was really you know 3:00 in the morning in the middle of the woods. We thought this is it we’ve got to the end of this you know when the sun’s up.
Q: What attracted you to the project?
A: [Tenney]: I mean not to be over simple, I just thought it was cool. For sure I needed to like whoever was directing. Then right away I sat down kind of like we’ll see and, not that the script wasn’t wonderful, it was, but I just wasn’t sure it was the thing I wanted to do next and then I sat down with Adam and thought, ‘Oh he knows the things I’m worried about he already is addressing and he knows exactly what he wants it to be. He’s walking against some subtle line that I think is is good yeah.’ I was the last to join and it was Helen and Adam – [they] were huge selling points and I remember when I first met you Adam it was I felt like our first meeting was like a work session so that was really we met and then we met again and continued the work session. It was I just thought well let’s just keep on going it was it felt very easy and exciting and they’re both really smart and smarts good.
[Randall]: Obviously, huge fans and that sort of thing, but really in terms of this specific project the characters when you first present them you don’t quite know who they are and you don’t quite know what’s going on beneath the surface and that’s really important. You gradually start to figure them out over the course of the film so you needed first of all cast with the ability and the complexity to make sense when first watching it. But also in retrospect when you know who they really are so you know it’s a huge challenge it’s and sort of really in the moment you have to be aware of both how you’re coming across for as you’re watching for the first time but also once you sort of uncover certain things that when you look back at or think back to it, it makes sense. They also needed cast who are sort of brave enough to be you’re not automatically going to be liked because you’re sort of slightly removed from them so there was sort of courage in that you know that sort of I was really looking for that these two are obviously both.
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