‘Nomadland’ | Anatomy of a Scene

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‘Nomadland’ | Anatomy of a Scene

The director Chloé Zhao narrates a scene from her movie featuring Frances McDormand and David Strathairn.

Hi, I’m Chloé Zhao. I am the writer, director, editor, and one of the producers of “Nomadland.” “Hi, may I help you?” This scene was shot in the Badlands National Park where Fern is doing a summer camp hosting job. This is a situation where we mix professional and non-professional actors. There are two actors in the scene. There is Fern played by Frances McDormand. Then there’s Dave played by David Strathairn “This is going to be really exciting.” Some of the people that are playing the tourists, they’re actually tourists at the National Park. The one thing I think is interesting to talk about in this scene is everything is scripted and staged. But through casting, cinematography and the editing, our goal is to make you feel as if this is really happening. As if she just showed up and improvised everything. The time of day is very important in shooting a scene like this in the Badlands. The texture of the rocks in the Badlands looks very different, the colors throughout the day. So it’s that last 25 minutes when the sun already go behind the rocks. It was of the most intense magic hour hustles in the film. Fran has such an interesting body language that I love, that we wanted to bring into Fern. She reminds me of Buster Keaton or Chaplin. You just love seeing how she walks and runs and interacts with the space. And I think that it brings a little bit of humor to it. Frances is the one that came up with those white sneakers that she was wearing. “Find anything interesting?” “Rocks!” And then she’s got these little pink socks, almost like a child getting lost. It’s the first time that she’s really embracing being a traveler. And enjoying the exploration. So in this scene she’s exploring, but she’s also lost at the same time.

Recent episodes in Anatomy of a Scene

Film directors walk viewers through one scene of their movies, showing the magic, motives and the mistakes from behind the camera.

Film directors walk viewers through one scene of their movies, showing the magic, motives and the mistakes from behind the camera.

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