Writer and director Lucy Tcherniak does not shy away from difficult subject matter. Where fires have burned and bombs have popped, Tcherniak finds a way make stories bloom from the rubble. She first gained attention with her short film Lay Me Down (2014) and has gone on to direct the critically acclaimed series The End of the F***ing World (2017) and Wanderlust (2018) for television.
When conducting interviews to humanize your characters, how do you go about the process of getting subjects to open up to you?
I think going into research interviews with an open mind and trying not to have any preconceived ideas or judgements is key. The most important thing is to put someone at ease and really listen to them. I guess it’s kind of similar to how I like to work with actors and crew on set. For me, the most successful creative collaborations are when egos are left behind and everybody’s heard.
One of the most talked-about episodes of Netflix’s Wanderlust was the fifth episode, which you directed, where Joy visits her therapist Angela. The two share the screen for the majority of the episode, almost the length of a real- life therapy session. How did you keep the energy throughout such an intense and intimate scene? What was the filming process like?
That episode was like nothing else I’d ever shot before. Thankfully, I had Nick Payne’s brilliant writing and the incredibly talented Toni Collette and Sophie Okonedo on my side. It’s such a long, complex and emotionally draining scene. I worked closely with Toni and Sophie during prep to find natural divisions between emotional beats, but during the shoot we often found it was working better for them to keep going longer than planned. We were sometimes doing 15 or even 20 minute takes! I had to balance this unconventional shooting approach with the very particular way I wanted to use the camera, gradually zeroing in on Toni’s character Joy, as her therapist does the same.
Can you tell us anything about the upcoming feature you’re working on?
Only that it was one of those rare scripts that leapt off the page for me as soon as I read it. It’s a truly wild and compelling story and I’m very excited to be telling it, all the more so because Julianne Moore will be playing the lead. I’ve forever been such a fan of hers, so I’m feeling incredibly lucky to be working with her on my first feature.
Photographer: Carlos Serrao at Beauty and Photo.
Hair: Sheridan Ward using Orbie at Cloutier Remix.
Makeup: Kristin Hilton using Hourglass Cosmetics at The Wall Group.
Manicurist: Merrick Fisher using Chanel Le Vernis at Opus Beauty.
Photographed at Hubble Studio
Producer: Amy Ground.
Production Coordinator: Thalita Mangin.
Lighting Director: Ron Loepp.
Digital Tech: Damon Loble.
Cinematographer: Monica May.
Sound Design: Mey Chen.
Illustrator/ Collage Artist: Alice Isaac.
Assistant: Jacob Khan.
Grips: John Brunhold And Brian Beverly.
Electricians: Garrett Lara And Ernie Rosas.
Prop Designer: James Lear.
Prop Assistant: Wyndam Garnett.
Location: Hubble Studio, Los Angeles.
Post Production Stills: Rare Digital.