There’s a sequence half-way through Hold The Dark that is so enthralling, so engrossing and so action-packed that it immediately deserves to be recognized as one of the best movie scenes of the year.
But the drama in front of the camera was almost rivaled by that behind it, as it turns out that Jeffrey Wright accidentally shot steadicam operator Fernando Moleon in the foot while filming the sequence.
Luckily for Wright a big blast of air was all that was dispersed from the weapon. But, as he explained to me recently over phone, he was still very apologetic.
“We shot that over the course of several days,” Wright originally explained. “Jeremy had it completely choreographed going into it.”
“There was nothing that was random or not considered except for a couple of vehicles that didn’t react how they were meant to on the ice.”
“That just made it all the more real when they didn’t. I think the danger of that scene exists solely on the screen, although I did accidentally shoot our steady-cam operator in the foot with a shotgun.”
“It was just a deep heavy blast of shotgun air. But I was still deeply embarrassed by that. Aside from that we all came through it untouched.”
After making this startling revelation, Wright then went into detail about the real purpose of the scene and why it has struck such a chord with viewers.
“For me there is a kind of devastating unrelenting factuality to it. It is what it is. That said, what I feel that scene is about is the end of the sequence. So the backside of the sequence.”
“In which everything becomes stylized, everything becomes heightened, and what we glorify in that sequence is the moment that Badge’s character Marium rediscovers his family.”
“That’s what the scene is juxtaposed against. It is about the loss of hope, the loss of love, the desperation of nihilism, but that’s the stylized, glorified moment of that.”
“As Jeremy describes, the other end of the scene is the quietness, the straightforwardness of the exchange between Cheeon and Marium. In which his sense of abandonment and betrayal and all that stuff is brought to bare.”
“In the middle there is just this chaos and inhumanity that provides one of the phases of the crucible that the audience and Core is put through on this journey toward a strange redemption.”
I also had the chance to speak to director Jeremy Saulnier about the sequence and his overall approach to “Hold The Dark,” and he made sure to point out that he used old school means to make the film feel authentic.
“That meant a lot of in camera, traditional filmmaking.”
“So doing the action sequence, I picked out where every bullet landed, was planting those chargers, I wasn’t doing any CG, it was all real stunts, pyrotechnics, a real machine gun.”
“So a lot of safety, a lot of choreography and rehearsals with stunt people. That was just a good time behind the camera, although it was certainly a devastating scene in front of the camera.”
“It was a really cool challenge to use helicopters scouting for locations, storyboarding for things to the frame.”
“It was a really cool thing. I have been wanting this for a really long time. So I didn’t have any issues with the big, scaled up action, highly kinetic parts of the film.”
“Hold The Dark” is now available on Netflix.