“Welcome To The Blumhouse” is a collaboration between Amazon Studios & Blumhouse Television and consists of four great films which will be released throughout October. One of those movies is “The Lie” by writer-director Veena Sud and starring Peter Sarsgaard, Mireille Enos and Joey King. We had a virtually sit down with Veena Sud and talked about her latest film, what’s like to make an adaptation and working with Peter Sarsgaard and Mireille Enos.
Liselotte Vanophem: Hi Veena, how are you doing?
Veena Sud: I’m doing fine, thank you.
LV: Congratulations on your amazing movie. Where did the idea for this story come from?
VS: The idea was actually based on the German film “Wir Monster” by Sebastian Ko and my producer Alix Madigan had the rights to the remake. She and I had been looking for a project, and so I watched it, and I was blown away by that movie. I knew that I wanted to make the American adaptation of that movie.
LV: How did you give your twist to the original film?
VS: I watched the film once and then I put it away. After that, I start to think about the people, and I spend a lot of time thinking about who each character is. As a writer, to understand the story and get to know why it drives me to remake it and not to make just a transcription of some else’s writing, I have to find inside each character the parts of myself that need to be expressed or to be seen. The conflicts stayed with me from the original story.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the mom, the dad and the child. I’m a parent myself I spend a lot of time thinking about what it might feel like if my son had done something like Kayla in the film. It’s an extraordinary story. The minute I put my pen on the paper and start writing what the mum and the dad would do in this particular situation. It came very naturally to me.
LV: When writing the story, did you already wrote the characters with some actors in mind?
VS: I knew that I wanted to work with Mireille [Enos] and Peter [Sarsgaard] again. They’ve done an extraordinary episode [“Off the Reservation”] of “The Killing” together in which Peter played a death row inmate and Mireille the detective who put him on death row, and it was about the day they spend together before his execution. Just to see these two actors inhabit that space together moment by moment during that day was just extraordinary. At the end of the day, Mireille said to Peter, ‘next time we work together, let’s do a love story’. This movie is sort of a love story. Love for your child and love for your ex-spouse so yeah I knew I wanted Mireille and Peter.
LV: It probably wasn’t the love story that they had in mind.
VS: No, exactly. It’s not a rom-com or anything. The other thing about making an adaptation of “The Lie” is that from the moment the story is being told from the lens of another human being, it brings new elements to the movie. In the original German film, the father of the missing and murdered girl is a neighbour and friend, and he’s also a white guy. As an American, I really wanted to talk about race, the justice system and how someone who’s a victim because of race is being seen as a perpetrator. That was an essential shift from the German film.
There are other elements in terms of engagements with the parents that I changed quite radically and I found that those because of those changes, the successful adaptations don’t become just a transcript. I can’t inhabit what Sebastian felt when he wrote it; I can only inhabit my reality.
LV: When filming this movie, what was the scene that stood out for you the most?
VS: The breakfast scene at the end of the movie between all three. Everything is falling apart, everything is done, but nothing is said apart from ‘Aren’t you hungry?’. We see Mireille and Peter falling moment by moment into the feeling of extreme despair. Seeing that was truly a thing of beauty. I think I left the camera run for a solid half an hour. I didn’t cut, and I just said ‘again and again and again’. The dance between the actors and the camera operator was just phenomenal. Magic can happen on set. It’s not like you go ‘I have the logistics, and now it’s a race against the clock’. Sometimes magic does happen, and the entire crew could feel that.
LV: Speaking of racing against the clock. You shot in the snow and during snowfall. That must have been a challenging time because of the snow and because of the lack of light. How was it to film in those circumstances?
VS: We were shooting in mid-winter, and with the least light, you will ever get in a year. We were also in historical low temperatures for Toronto winters. During those temperatures, your mind can’t cope with how cold that is. While that was one of the biggest challenges, it was also a gift. We just had to do it because there was no room for ‘let’s do this or let’s try that’. The snow itself allowed the quietness to descend onto the set. It also brought beauty to the film. The woods are quiet, there’s snow, there’s also that Christmassy feeling, and then there’s a child’s body. I always loved that idea of the paradox.
LV: One last question: what’s next for you?
VS: What’s next for me is a sci-fi movie. It’s in development right now and just at the beginning, but I’m very excited to step into the land of sci-fi. I can’t say much about it, but it does involve the aftermath and climate change.
LV: Thanks a lot for this interview and good luck with the movie!