How Olivia Wilde Created a Fantasy Musical Scene for ‘Booksmart’ | Anatomy of a Scene


I’m Olivia Wilde,
director of “Booksmart.” So at this moment in
the film, the girls have just reached the party,
and it’s sort of like Dorothy arriving in Oz. They come through the doors. They’re finally here. Molly, played by
Beanie Feldstein, spots Nick, played
by Mason Gooding. Everyone else
seems to disappear. And what follows
is a fantasy that reveals that Molly has been
the most romantic person in the room this entire film. The most interesting
way to use the language of filmmaking
is to illustrate, cinematically, something
emotional about a character that we can’t see
on the surface, that we can’t
explain with words. And I wanted to pay homage to
the great films of the 1940s and ’50s in Hollywood
that use dance. In order to achieve it, it
took an incredible amount of collaboration
between all departments. Our Steadicam operator,
Chris Haarhoff, who had shot
“Birdman,” so I knew he could handle long,
extended Steadicam shots, shot this in one shot
that would take us through the entire house. It was very difficult. There was also the
added complication of the lighting
design being cued by the actors’ choreography. It was an effort on behalf
of the entire crew together, and no one more
than the actors themselves, who learned this
intense choreography designed by Denna Thomsen. And Mason Gooding had never
danced before in his life. And when they
nailed it, everybody erupted into
applause, and there were tears, tears, tears. You good? Yeah.