How Steven Soderbergh and Ed Solomon Straightened Out ‘Full Circle’

Director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Ed Solomon first collaborated on the murder mystery Mosaic (2017). The work could be viewed as a self-selecting adventure-style story using a smartphone app, or as six videos. -episode HBO miniseries.

“Mosaic” was controversial, but the two learned a lot through this work. The next collaboration eventually resulted in his six-part series Full Circle, which premiered on Thursdays on Max, but they said he would do another show with two separately filmed versions. I had envisioned. One is told in a classical, linear way and the other presents the story. The same event is told from different perspectives, and its meaning changes depending on which path the viewer chooses.

the idea is Green light for 2021Solomon then began writing two versions of the same story told in different ways. Then, last spring, reality hit.

“When I got the schedule and saw the number of linear-only days and pages, I thought, ‘This is physically impossible,'” Soderbergh said in a recent joint interview with Solomon. He added, “I had a hunch about ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ that it was going to be a legendary folly.”

Soderbergh decided to abandon the forked version. But then he had to tell Solomon about it. In addition to six linear episodes, Solomon had already written a 175-page book.

“It wasn’t the lunch I was looking forward to,” Soderbergh said. But it turns out that Solomon had already agreed with him. “It was too much,” he said.

There’s no better way to spend an afternoon than talking about movies and TV with two people who love making and watching stories. Soderbergh’s career includes blockbuster hits (Ocean’s Eleven, Magic Mike), daring whimsy (The Girlfriend Experience), and the bizarre Liberace biopic (Behind the Candlestick). Diverse. Solomons has films such as The Wonderful Adventures of Bill and Ted and Men in Black, often with a comical undertone.

Both of their efforts lean towards decidedly noir, and sandwiched between the two series is HBO Max’s 1950s crime special No Sudden Move (2021). The premise of “Full Circle” was inspired by the 1963 Akira Kurosawa suspense film “High and Low.” What if there was a kidnapping but the wrong child was taken?

Even without branching, the story brings many twists and layers, hopping back and forth between the two families in an unlikely tangle. One is the Manhattan family of celebrity chefs played by Dennis Quaid (Claire Danes plays Shotcall’s daughter and Timothy Olyphant plays his son-in-law with a mysterious past). The other, headed by a crime patriarch (CCH Pounder), is rooted in the Guyanese community of Queens. In the center stands a rogue post office inspector played by Zazie Beetz (“Atlanta”).

Soderbergh and Solomon’s methods and history of close collaboration have helped them to profit and adapt the show as it progresses.

Fardut Sharma, the UK-based actor who plays Pounder’s right-hand man, said in a recent video call that “scenes were being rewritten and lines were being added while we were performing.” “It was my first experience working in America, so I thought this would be normal, but a member of staff told me that this was not actually normal practice.”

Mr. Soderbergh, 60, and Mr. Solomon, 62, had a lengthy conversation in Mr. Soderbergh’s office in the Tribeca neighborhood of lower Manhattan. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Steven is known for being a fast worker, doing his own editing at the end of each day’s shoot. What do the authors consider?

Ed Solomon We got together most weekends, mostly on Sundays. You will receive a text message saying, “Are you nearby?” This meant “I’m going to the office in the afternoon.” [Laughs.] and we just talked. “Where is this going? And what does that mean for what we got?” We were constantly re-evaluating. Writing continues when filming begins, and continues while editing takes place. Thank you very much for being so flexible.

Steven Soderbergh You have to swing in both directions. You can’t say to Ed, ‘Rethink this’ or ‘Redo that’ without looking directly at your own work. “I’m throwing away what I’ve thought hard and shot.”

solomon Sometimes the show goes beyond the original idea, and that’s part of the fun.

“Full Circle” relies more on details than backstory. Quaid’s character, Chef Jeff, has a ponytail that speaks volumes for his personality. Did you make a deliberate effort to lose weight?

Soderbergh You might have a tendency to spoon viewers into a character’s backstory before getting into the story in earnest. It’s what I resist as a viewer, and what I’ve tried to resist as a filmmaker. Most of what I watch, both movies and TV, are too long. My motto is that if it still works, it’s better to remove it. I want to keep this as bare as possible.

The loose, sometimes hairy vibe is reminiscent of 1970s noir films. Were they part of your influence?

Soderbergh I’m after some kind of found precision. I want to build what was conceived, and I want to feel like it’s happening in front of me for the first time. I wanted that feeling when I was watching Sidney Lumet’s detective movie The French Connection in the ’70s.

What attracts you to noir?

Soderbergh It’s a very cinematic form of storytelling. The conflict is clear and interesting. As the pressure builds in the conflict between people’s dreams and desires and reality, shifting loyalties and distrust, they inevitably lead to outbursts of physical or emotional violence. It’s a very sexy genre to work in as a director.

solomon It’s an exciting place for me to write when people are hiding their truths from others but are pressured by circumstances to try harder and harder to keep it from coming out. .

Soderbergh Genres are a great system for effectively communicating ideas. It’s built to have a sort of superficial narrative layer and an underground themed space where you can place whatever interests you, and that’s what makes it fun.

Zach Ryan’s score is interestingly jarring. Why did you set such a rich music for such a painstaking thriller?

solomon First we talked about Douglas Sirk.

Soderbergh I like the juxtaposition of its visual aesthetic with the sonic aesthetic of ’50s melodramas. I didn’t want a hip, trendy score. I wanted something very classic and emotional. It’s not typical for me to do this sort of thing on the face or ears to the music, trying to raise the emotional state of the character you’re watching.

solomon I never told you this. I had a theory that the score was doing the work that the original branching narrative would have done while this alternate crime story was going on. It was all about the inner life and emotional experiences of people.

Any mismatch between format and content is risky.

Soderbergh I’ve seen the style of very accomplished filmmakers very well developed, very detailed and you can feel the intelligence and the work. It exposes the fact that the scripts they shot aren’t as good as their work. Your talent should match your ambition. You need both, but if both are missing, it won’t happen to you. I’ve seen people with talent but not enough ambition. There are many people who are more ambitious than talented. The universe tends to catch up with them eventually.

Do you feel that writers’ strikes are making people think more about how movies and television are made? Are you reflecting on the way you create?

Soderbergh That’s something I often think about. My entire career has tested my ability to improve and optimize my work processes. It’s about getting to the best version of something as quickly as possible with minimal drama and ego. I don’t think the work we do is necessarily important with a capital “I”, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter either. I want to be in a space where it’s taken as seriously as it needs to be for it to be good. If you take it too seriously, it leans into indulgence, because that’s not what I want.

solomon I believe that human-made art has an atmosphere that cannot be imitated. The problem is, these are the people who are making the highest level decisions with only the bottom line: “How can we get rid of as many people as possible?” They are incapable of judging what is good art and what is not. My concern is that if we don’t draw the line now, many people will continue to lose their jobs.

What makes you wary?

Soderbergh You need a certain amount of fear to stay alert.

Where was that pocket on “Full Circle”?

Soderbergh Story complexity, schedule complexity. I need a sense that things could go sideways if I don’t do my best. You have to find a balance that allows you to be self-critical without being paralyzed. You have to make a decision, but you also have to tell yourself: It should get better. ”

solomon On the other hand, I want to become a better writer. I would love to know how much you learned about yourself on this project. Once I’m out of my limit, I’m going to push myself to the point where I’ve learned something.

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