Home MoviesMovie News ‘Mother, Couch’ Director Penned a Guide for the Crew, But the Cast Chose to Wing It

‘Mother, Couch’ Director Penned a Guide for the Crew, But the Cast Chose to Wing It

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Filmmaking Collaboration


In the world of filmmaking, communication is key. Director Niclas Larsson understood this well during the production of his film “Mother, Couch.” While Larsson was meticulous in his approach to ensure every scene was just right, he took a unique path to convey his vision. Instead of bombarding both cast and crew with a plethora of details, he penned a book he endearingly called “The Storm” to provide a roadmap for the production. However, it’s the unexpected twist in this cinematic tale that adds intrigue: while the crew embraced “The Storm,” the cast, including acclaimed actors Ellen Burstyn and Ewan McGregor, chose to sail their own creative ships, opting not to delve into Larsson’s comprehensive guide. This decision resulted in a delightful blend of spontaneity and collaboration that enriched the film, highlighting the artistry that can emerge when actors and filmmakers find harmony on the set.

A Tempest in a Book

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) serves as the backdrop for this fascinating behind-the-scenes tale. Niclas Larsson, making his feature directorial debut at TIFF with “Mother, Couch,” sat down with FilmSweep’s Editor-in-Chief Steve Weintraub to reveal his unique approach to guiding his team through the film’s production.

Larsson’s decision to create “The Storm” book was born out of necessity. He expressed frustration with his crew’s occasional difficulty in fully grasping the nuances of his script. As Larsson described it, he had reached a point where he was “so sick and tired of them not understanding me fully.” Thus, he embarked on the task of crafting a comprehensive guide that would break down every essential detail for his crew. This book also served as the foundation for the film’s shooting schedule, ensuring everyone was on the same page, even when filming scenes out of sequence.

“We didn’t shoot in order, so we could go from Storm Two, which was the beginning of the film, and people were like, ‘Alright, I’m prepping Storm Six over here. Do you want to go and check it?’ It was a very easy way to communicate with my crew about where we were in the movie because, I mean, you know, it’s one location, but it’s also so many locations,” Larsson explained.

The Cast’s Unique Approach

Now, let’s pivot to the intriguing twist in this cinematic tale: the cast’s decision to forego reading “The Storm” book. The likes of Ellen Burstyn and Ewan McGregor, along with their fellow cast members, opted to rely solely on the script’s contents. Rather than burden themselves with an additional source of information, they chose to explore their characters and the story in their own way. This unorthodox approach allowed the actors to infuse their performances with spontaneity, breathing life into the characters that Larsson had meticulously crafted.

Larsson recounted how he approached Burstyn and McGregor about reading the book, only to find that they “unanimously” agreed not to. This decision gave rise to a beautiful and unexpected synergy between the cast and the crew. Larsson elaborated, “We’re like, ‘Alright, should we know here exactly where we’re going?’ I’m like, ‘No, explore it. Let’s go explore this scene. Let’s see where this takes us.’ And because I wrote The Storm book before shooting, sometimes I had to change The Storm book. I’m like, ‘Alright, they actually discovered something in the scene that I didn’t see coming.’ So, it was a beautiful kind of translation between the actors in front of the camera and the crew.”

“Mother, Couch”: A Unique Family Reunion

“Mother, Couch” weaves a quirky tale of familial bonds and absurdity. The story follows three estranged siblings—David, Gruffud, and Linda—who embark on a peculiar reunion with their mother, who staunchly refuses to leave her perch on a couch at a furniture store. The film’s ensemble cast, including Ellen Burstyn, Ewan McGregor, Rhys Ifans, Lara Flynn Boyle, Taylor Russell, Lake Bell, and F. Murray Abraham, brought their individual interpretations to the characters, contributing to the film’s vibrant tapestry of emotions and humor.

In the world of filmmaking, where every detail is meticulously planned, the decision to embrace spontaneity and creative exploration added a unique layer of artistry to “Mother, Couch.” Niclas Larsson’s “The Storm” book served as a guiding light for the crew, while the cast charted their own course, ultimately resulting in a film that beautifully marries careful planning with the magic of unexpected discoveries. As Larsson’s debut film graces the screens at TIFF 2023, it’s clear that “Mother, Couch” is not just a story about a stubborn mother and her children but also a testament to the beauty of collaboration and the unpredictability of creativity in the world of cinema.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Filmmaking Collaboration

Question: What is “The Storm” book mentioned in the article?

Answer: “The Storm” book is a detailed guide written by director Niclas Larsson during the production of his film “Mother, Couch.” This book served as a comprehensive resource for the film’s crew, breaking down every necessary detail for each scene and providing a foundation for the shooting schedule. It was created to improve communication between Larsson and the crew, ensuring that everyone understood the nuances of the script and the film’s vision.

Question: Why did Niclas Larsson decide to write “The Storm” book?

Answer: Niclas Larsson decided to write “The Storm” book because he was frustrated with the crew’s occasional difficulty in fully understanding his script. He wanted to provide a clear and detailed reference guide that would help the crew navigate the complexities of the film’s production, especially since the shooting did not occur in chronological order. The book served as a tool to streamline communication and ensure that everyone was on the same page.

Question: How did the cast of “Mother, Couch” approach their roles differently from the crew?

Answer: The cast of “Mother, Couch,” including Ellen Burstyn and Ewan McGregor, chose to approach their roles differently from the crew. Unlike the crew, they opted not to read “The Storm” book, instead focusing solely on the contents of the script. This decision allowed them to bring their own interpretations and spontaneity to their performances, exploring their characters and the story in a more organic way. It resulted in a beautiful collaboration between the actors and the crew, as unexpected discoveries during scenes sometimes led to changes in the book itself.

Question: What is the central premise of the film “Mother, Couch”?

Answer: “Mother, Couch” revolves around the story of three estranged siblings—David, Gruffud, and Linda—who come together for a reunion with their mother. However, the twist in the tale is that their mother adamantly refuses to leave a couch at a furniture store. The film explores themes of family bonds and absurdity, infusing humor and emotion into the narrative.

Question: What impact did the cast’s decision to not read “The Storm” book have on the film’s production?

Answer: The cast’s decision not to read “The Storm” book had a significant impact on the film’s production. It allowed them to approach their roles with a sense of spontaneity and creative exploration, contributing unique interpretations to their characters. This unorthodox approach added an element of surprise and collaboration to the filmmaking process, as the actors sometimes discovered unexpected nuances in scenes that prompted changes to the book itself. This synergy between the cast and the crew enriched the film’s artistry, resulting in a more vibrant and dynamic cinematic experience.

Question: Who are some of the notable actors featured in “Mother, Couch”?

Answer: “Mother, Couch” boasts a talented ensemble cast, including renowned actors such as Ellen Burstyn, Ewan McGregor, Rhys Ifans, Lara Flynn Boyle, Taylor Russell, Lake Bell, and F. Murray Abraham. These actors brought their individual talents and interpretations to their roles, contributing to the film’s compelling performances and overall cinematic quality.

Question: How does “Mother, Couch” balance careful planning and spontaneity in its production?

Answer: “Mother, Couch” achieves a unique balance between careful planning and spontaneity in its production. While director Niclas Larsson provided a meticulous guide in the form of “The Storm” book for the crew, the cast chose not to read it, opting for creative exploration based on the script alone. This dynamic allowed for unexpected discoveries and improvisation during filming, enriching the performances. The film’s success lies in its ability to combine Larsson’s vision and planning with the organic creativity of the cast, resulting in a cinematic experience that is both well-crafted and filled with artistic spontaneity.

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