Kari Skogland has made a handful of films that most people haven’t heard of – Men with guns, Chicks with sticks, Fifty dead goand more – but her professional focus was rarely on film. She has worked on some of the most eye-catching and notable television shows in the past 30 years, including The story of the maid, Queer As Folk, The L word, Boardwalk Empire, The Borgias, Longmire, Vikings, House of cards, and the Walking Dead. She is also a film writer, producer on shows like NOS4A2 and Sons of freedomand the CEO of her own production company, Mad Rabbit.
So it’s no wonder she’s directing the new Marvel Cinematic Universe series from Disney Plus The falcon and the winter lotwhich probably plays out like a five-hour film over six episodes. She’s the kind of capable industry veteran who is called in to take the reins on all types of series, though she’s leaned towards drama and action, both front and center Falcon and winter soldier. Polygon recently video chat with Skogland to talk about how she approached directing the show and how she uses her camera position to shape the show’s emotions.
Many of the action films that Skogland saw as inspirations for the show won’t surprise viewers: “I’ve studied all kinds of films that looked like they were sonically out of the way, but they all teach me something. “She says.” We went to the obvious places, like Deadly weapon
But Skogland also wanted the series to have a deeper emotional aspect than some of those nifty ’80s films, so she watched a lot of low-key emotional dramas as well Midnight cowboy and Simple driver on David Lean’s sprawling epics: “All these films that were unique,” she says. “You have to train your synapses. You put it in a saucepan and stir it, and hopefully what comes out of it when you make decisions is something unique. “
She says one of the greatest inspirations for The falcon and the winter soldier was the French film The untouchablesabout a rich quadriplegic who hires a young man from the projects as his caregiver. “I was very inspired by the vulnerability the characters showed,” says Skogland. “It’s a spectacular film. I think this helped me feel safe as I was exploring some of the weak spots with Bucky and Sam. We could walk that path and really get into them and feel for them. Because their weak points actually made them stronger. “
Part of exploring these vulnerabilities had to do with the placement of the camera: in scenes with Sam Wilson, aka the superhero Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie, the camera is generally further back, showing wide open spaces, and capturing Sam’s surroundings. “He has an expansive world,” she says.
But in scenes with the more concerned antihero Bucky Barnes, played by Sebastian Stan, the camera moves uncomfortably close. “Bucky, I got the feeling, was in a prison he made himself, and I wanted to convey that through framing. We took extreme close-ups of Bucky reading the inside of his brain. It’s a very extreme use of focus, the plane of focus. You can be by someone’s side, maybe behind them, with the plane of focus only on part of their face, and that made us feel like we knew what they were thinking we were on their minds. “
Says Skogland Falcon and winter soldier is more of a character-based story than previous Marvel films, and focuses on men who are “two sides of the same coin but still feel very different”. She says having six episodes to tell her story was an important part of building tension between them. “They’re starting to look for the characters in other ways,” she says. “We can see them without suits and we come into their life and it becomes very real. We can ask and sometimes answer the questions that we don’t get when we only have two hours to tell a story. “
The problem with a movie, she says, is that the characters are always in “world economy” mode so they don’t have time to deal with their personal lives because they feel like they are “on the ball.” to drop let them do it. “
Skogland says another enjoyable aspect of working on the show was creating space for improvisation. Says Mackie and Stan are real friends who didn’t need much guidance to play joking rivals: “Believe me, they pretty much take care of it themselves. They are great together. We took a close look at their interviews and the various press conferences they attended and I was very encouraged by what I saw. And part of what I had to do was just get out of the way and let them do what they do. A lot of it was improvisation and ad-libs because they can do it easily. I see the script as a roadmap. It’s always malleable, it’s always something where you can come up with new ideas. And they are very good at it. “
She also wanted to try new ways of dealing with action sequences than before and address Falcon’s fighting style in new ways. “I did a lot of extreme sports videos,” she says. “Technology has changed so I could use smaller cameras that we humans, the GoPro of everything, can use. I was able to jump into this world, which meant we could get coverage that we hadn’t really seen before. And we were able to hire a team that can do some amazing things in squirrel suits. “
“I wanted to see Falcon fly like we’ve never seen him before. The most important thing for me – actually with both of them, but especially with Anthony – was that we flew with them. That we really had the feeling that we weren’t looking at the him, but fly With him. The same goes for the fight sequences and the choreography, as much as possible. “
Putting emotion into the action sequences is “pretty complicated, after all,” she says, but it was a necessary part of the story. “I wanted to feel the emotional charge in the fights, especially for Bucky who doesn’t want fight. He comes from a place where this fight for him is over. So it was very important that we embrace the emotional space he is in. ”