[Editor’s note: The following interview contains some spoilers for “Fair Play.”]
All Chloe Domont wished to do was direct. However movie directing assignments aren’t handed out to NYU Movie College grads, so she apprenticed in tv to make a dwelling, beginning out as a author’s assistant, ultimately shifting onto being the one girl in an in any other case all-male author’s room on “Ballers.”
That intense, life-changing expertise impressed her directorial debut “Honest Play,” which she wrote throughout the pandemic. The fundamental define: a younger hedge fund govt (Phoebe Dynevor) is so completely satisfied along with her boyfriend (Alden Ehrenreich), who additionally works at her hedge fund, that they comply with get married. They preserve their forbidden relationship secret on the agency, going as far as to take completely different routes to the workplace. However when she’s out of the blue promoted over him, changing into his boss within the course of, the dynamic swiftly adjustments.
The film is intimate, attractive, and violent — and rapidly acquired financed. And after “Honest Play” premiered on the Library in Park Metropolis final January, it ignited a bidding struggle for worldwide rights, which was gained by Netflix for $20 million.
That very writing room was the rationale Domont wrote “Honest Play,” she advised me on the Toronto Worldwide Movie Competition, which performed the film forward of its theatrical launch this week (it begins streaming on Netflix subsequent Friday). “You’re handled like one of many boys,” she mentioned. “And so that you’ve acquired to behave like one of many boys. And when you don’t act like one of many boys, there’s a threat that you simply lose your seat on the desk. It by no means rose to the extent of sexual harassment. It was extra like: ‘Are you powerful?’ It’s a little bit extra hazing. Like, you’re a man. They did it to youthful males, too.”
After the “Ballers” author’s room, Domont graduated to directing episodes of the present and different collection. Which was lots higher. “Whereas I used to be directing TV, I used to be in search of this story to inform,” she mentioned. “‘Honest Play’ got here to me from my stand up in tv. And I put that within the film, as a result of I felt like that that was an necessary factor to point out. And, at instances, there was a whole lot of disgrace. I used to be exhibiting how girls must play ugly to outlive in that type of workspace.”
And but, directing tv is an episode by episode dedication overseen by the showrunner.
“You’re nonetheless a day participant,” she mentioned. “I knew TV was not, particularly as a director, not my medium. I’ve tales I need to inform and and so I all the time knew that the purpose was to change over. I wished to ensure that once I did inform the story, that it was the suitable story. I had written different scripts, however I didn’t suppose they have been ok or well timed sufficient or pierced by sufficient and it took life expertise to comprehend that no, ‘Honest Play’ is the story I want to inform.”
Domont began with the thought of the unraveling of the connection. “The concept that there’s an influence flip. I had no concept what backdrop it was in opposition to, or how precisely it was going to implode,” she mentioned. COVID supplied uninterrupted writing time. “The very first thing that got here to me was the scene when Emily will get promoted,” Domont mentioned. “And, the concept her first response isn’t pleasure, it’s worry. And when that scene occurred: ‘OK, that is what I want to put in writing from. It’s that.’”
The filmmaker has met her share of poisonous males in her romantic life — although not, she mentioned, the “beautiful man” she is seeing now. “I met him by his mom, who was the breadwinner of the household. I knew that he might deal with it,” she mentioned. “In my private life, there are males that adore me for all my traits, however in addition they on the identical time can’t assist however really feel threatened by them in a roundabout way, due to the best way they’re raised. It’s that intersection and juxtaposition, that’s the place the battle is, not simply in relationships, but in addition in work, too. What’s fascinating artwork to me is you’re taking your expertise and also you dramatize it, otherwise you put it in new territories, you’re nonetheless exploring one thing new, but in addition, I get excited when folks push it, however are nonetheless grounding it inside the realm of actuality.”
Domont determined to discover the world of excessive finance, particularly, a hedge fund. “I wished to set it in an workplace setting,” she mentioned. “That might really feel extra common for ladies. I had a bunch of associates in that area, who confronted emotional highs and lows. They may begin out their day the place the whole lot’s going nice. After which proper earlier than shut, out of the blue they made a nasty wager. And the whole lot’s crushed.”
Once more, Domont’s expertise within the author’s room knowledgeable her analysis strategies. She took a gaggle of hedge fund guys out for drinks. “I acquired them drunk,” the filmmaker mentioned. “And I requested them a bunch of questions. Finding out that world was like studying a international language.”
When Domont confirmed the script to her UTA brokers, they despatched it to Star Thrower and Ram Bergman and Rian Johnson’s banner T-Avenue at MRC, for producing and financing. It’s simple to see the attract: The film subverts the standard sexual attraction style, whereas pushing it into “what would you do?” territory. “They acquired it to the suitable producers who actually linked with it,” she mentioned. “And it moved surprisingly rapidly, and so they signed on just like the day after they learn the script. So it was thrilling.”
When it got here to casting the lead, Domont wished to seek out an actress who, just like the character, was “a rising star in her world,” she mentioned, “somebody that wasn’t already established. And I felt like Phoebe was a rising star. She was a rising star in TV, however she hadn’t had a movie second but. So I used to be making an attempt to suppose outdoors the field when it comes to casting than the 12 names that you simply get.”
And clearly, throughout her time on “Bridgerton,” Dynevor has proven that she will deal with intimate scenes. “However for me, what I used to be in search of essentially the most was, how current is she? How dialed-in is she, and for me, it was extremely clear that she was completely current,” Domont mentioned. “There was a vulnerability there, but in addition a fierceness. I additionally favored the best way that you can learn misery in her eyes. That was extremely necessary. I felt there have been locations I might take her that she hadn’t been, and I might push them.”
For her accomplice, Domont was in search of an actor who was the alternative of the character. “Alden is an extremely robust, versatile actor that started off with a whole lot of pop,” she mentioned. “I I liked him in ‘Hail, Caesar!’ I knew that it was going to take a assured man to play that stage of insecurity. And a whole lot of different male actors I spoke with, you can inform they have been already insecure about going to these insecure locations. And that’s by no means going to be an excellent recipe for this film. However Alden got here in tremendous assured, so snug in his personal pores and skin. And he’s all in regards to the craft and and there was by no means any query: ‘Why does this character goes to those locations?’ He’s simply able to dive into the fabric.”
Due to her TV expertise, Domont wished to maintain capturing on inside units, so Bergman pushed for them to shoot in Jap Europe, the place he and Johnson had constructed units for “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Thriller.” (Exteriors have been shot in New York.) They constructed the workplace, the loos, and the condominium. “I just like the management,” Domont mentioned. “I like with the ability to construct issues precisely as you need after which have the area to shoot it. We constructed when she goes looking for the shirt. It was superb. We have been in a position to construct the whole lot. I had a particular concept for a way I wished every of the areas to really feel claustrophobic in several methods.”
For the couple’s scruffy East Village condominium, “the thought is that they might stay collectively in part of city that they wouldn’t run into [people from work] in Chelsea or Midtown, or on the West Facet,” she mentioned. “And visually I wished a unique texture than the all-glass Midtown workplace, I wished one thing a little bit grittier. They usually’re additionally younger, too. So it’s earlier than they each made some huge cash. They’re nonetheless these forms of finance bros and women. They work all day and so they celebration all evening, after which they simply crash for a number of hours earlier than they do all of it once more, the subsequent day.”
When it got here to filming, the producers tried to seek out a number of simple scenes for the neophyte director to begin with. “There have been like two,” she mentioned. “We have been simply in it for the remainder of the shoot. I wished to deal with this prefer it’s a ticking time bomb and this strain cooker. And this ballooning stress. And as soon as the balloon does pop, it turns right into a dogfight. That’s how I wished to go about making this film.”
More often than not Domont used one digicam, favoring lengthy takes, however generally used two to seize simultaneous reactions. The intercourse scenes have been filmed in two components: “often the efficiency aspect earlier than the intercourse half,” she mentioned. “So we have been simply making an attempt to shoot it for efficiency, and we might shoot the whole lot up till the intercourse half. We’d deal with that like a stunt. We had an intimacy intimacy coordinator, and we additionally had a stunt workforce there too. In order that was useful for me, it was useful for the actors, so that they didn’t have to fret about efficiency. After which worrying about the place their head was going to land or something like that and security sensible it simply made a whole lot of sense. We didn’t do many takes of the intimate components.”
Essentially the most tough scene to shoot was the toilet sexual assault. “It took us all day to shoot and we had a crane in there and issues moved slowly,” mentioned Domont. “We shot Phoebe’s aspect first and her efficiency would lead and no matter occurred on his aspect, so it was a difficult factor. We have been enhancing the movie whereas we have been capturing, so I had my editor edit that scene and ensure. ‘If we don’t have this last scene, we don’t have a film. Let me know if this works.’ So he lower it collectively, after which we discovered that there have been some issues lacking. We went again, as a result of we constructed the set, and we might do this.”
Clearly, it was an awesome feeling, being in cost. “Particularly after years in tv, the place you do have the true voices over your shoulders and also you’re serving another person’s imaginative and prescient,” Domont mentioned. “I felt like I used to be lastly in my component. I used to be burning and able to inform this story. I had spent a whole lot of time honing and honing and honing my craft in TV. I really feel grateful for the TV experiences, as a result of I really feel prefer it taught me to turn into an expert earlier than I acquired to make my first movie. Loads of first-time filmmakers, they’re not skilled but. And they also don’t know learn how to make fast choices and sacrifice the issues that aren’t as necessary to guard the issues which can be essential. TV taught me how to do this.”
Additionally, she had robust producers behind her. “They knew learn how to give me the assets,” she mentioned. Which additionally helped when it got here to orchestrating the sale at Sundance. They saved the film low on the radar, and let it communicate for itself. Why did they go along with Netflix? “Their pitch within the room,” she mentioned. “They’re those who’re going to place in essentially the most effort behind behind getting this this movie out into the world and the worldwide attain that they have been going to provide us movie. In the end, I would like as many individuals to see this movie as potential.”
Subsequent up: Domont turned down some big-studio affords, however selected to stay to writing her subsequent three deliberate movies. For now, she’ll keep unbiased and stick along with her producing workforce. Why repair what ain’t broke?