How Did Soderbergh Shoot an Entire Movie in Just Two Weeks?

There's a new movie coming to HBO Max with huge stars and an A-list director. It was shot in just a couple of weeks. 

We all know Steven Soderbergh has a penchant for working fast, but who knew he could assemble a film that stars Meryl Streep, Dianne Wiest, and Candice Bergen that finished principal photography in two weeks? 

In the film, the lead actors all play longtime friends who reconvene on an ocean liner. It's a dialogue-driven movie that relies heavily on improvisation. 

I guess it's fitting that the title of the movie will be Let Them All Talk.

The cast recently sat down with Entertainment Weekly to give them the details of the new movie. 

The movie is based on a Deborah Eisenberg short story, and she actually got screenwriting credit here as well.

Though the dialogue was mostly improv, Eisenberg was there to help them work out specific scenes. 

“She was always there. She was there all the time, and she was so generous, and you could ask her anything,” Wiest said. “She would tell you what might come up next, and remind you, because we shot in sequence, which was another incredible gift that Steven gave.”

That sounds like an awesome collaborationreally freeing for everyone involved. 

Just read how Streep improved one crucial scene! 

“One night, the next day I was supposed to be giving a lecture, and the auditorium was going to be filled with real people,” said Streep, who plays an acclaimed novelist accepting a prestigious award in the movie. “And there was no lecture in the script! I said, ‘Well, what is she gonna say about this author from another century?’ And so overnight, [Eisenberg] produced this enormous bunch of ideas, and a biography. It was a very rich kind of bible from which to draw. But it was terrifying every night, because you just had to get ready and think [of], you know, what you’re gonna say.”

It's definitely an interesting approach.

Streep told Entertainment Weekly, “I told [Soderbergh] he was gonna ruin everything for every director, and every production designer, and everything else, because he made the movie for 25 centsI know that’s what I was paid. Then it was made in two weeks, and it was a free ride on the boat.”

Bergen appreciated the approach.

"I think [Soderbergh]’s the most fearless filmmaker, and his intellect is so piercing," she said. "He was doing the camerawork, so you sort of watched his brain right behind the camera, spinning like a top. It was really interesting. And short.”

So how do you make a movie like this? 

Streep said, “I mean, they would give us the outlines of a situation, and then we knew where we had to end up. But they didn’t tell us how to get there.”

Aside from securing the boat and getting actors to work for very little, which can happen when you are famous and they are also famous, you need to really pare things down to only the essentials. 

As Wiest told EW, "The only equipment was sound equipment. Steven held the camera in a wheelchair and just rolled along. None of the lights, and the trucks, all that stuff that goes into making movies, there’s none of it. There was Steven and this new camera."

This sort of guerrilla filmmaking seems to go perfect with Soderbergh, who shot the horror Unsane on an iPhone and did the same with High Flying Bird

I can't wait to see what he has in store for us this time. Let Them All Talk is set to launch on HBO Max in December.

Let us know what you think in the comments.      

Your Comment

6 Comments

The answer is that the movie will be absolutely unwatchable, just like almost every other Soderbergh movie. Not that complicated.

November 5, 2020 at 12:31PM

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I never saw anything "unwatchable" made by soderbergh.
He's a genius.

November 5, 2020 at 2:35PM

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It's the motivated reasoning that he's a "genius" that's allowed him to survive for so long. Go watch Kafka and King of the Hill and Bubble and Haywire and see if your genius label survives.

November 5, 2020 at 3:03PM

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I have mixed feeling about Soderbergh.
He is really doing great innovative things. Shooting movies on iphones etc.
But in the end his films are not very good.
You can look at them and think "Wow this was shoot on an iphone"
But when the novelty value wears of you are stuck with a crappy film with a crappy story.

November 6, 2020 at 2:47AM, Edited November 6, 2:48AM

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Joe Sand
Actor, Writer, Director, Editor
415

Unsane was kinda cookie-cutter, B-schlock, but that was what he was going for anyway. High Flying Bird was way more interesting to me. It had a really well written and tight script with great performances. And the way older, completely improvised Schizopolis is one of my favorite movies.

November 6, 2020 at 3:52AM

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Auke-Jan Weening
Dissapointment
350

When you break it down you have:
12 days of shooting. Which means...
8 pages a day. Improvised.
No crew other than Sound. Sunlight is your Gaffer.
The actors work for scale, and a cruise.

It's improbable to think he COULDN'T produce this film in 12 days.
We used to make them in 12 days, and shot them on 35mm.

November 12, 2020 at 11:16AM

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