Editors Note: This article contains spoilers for No One Will Save You.
The Big Picture
- No One Will Save You is a low-budget sci-fi thriller that manages to look visually stunning despite its limited funds.
- The sci-fi and horror aspects of the film heavily rely on visual effects, with most of the budget allocated to that aspect of production.
- The director, Brian Duffield, had to find a balance between the number of visual effect shots and the cost.
No One Will Save You is a great example of bang for your buck, with the mid-budget sci-fi thriller from Hulu and 20th Century Studios looking magnificent despite the low cost of making it, and fans were able to get a special insight on the making of the movie after Collider’s Editor-in-Chief Steve Weintraub held a special Q&A with the film’s director Brian Duffield. Weintraub asked Duffield about finding that balance of visual effect shots and using them sparingly or intelligently, noting that the film did not have the freedom of a blockbuster Marvel movie, as well as how closely he had collaborated with DNEG, the visual effects team, to achieve what they’d set out to do.
“Yeah, most of our budget is visual effects. I think we’re like a M3GAN movie if there are just 400 aliens instead of M3GAN. It was really hard, but I think that was also the fun of it, to some extent. Even the studio, if there would be something divisive or something, they would be like, ‘Well, that’s why the budget’s this low,’ but not in a bad way, like in a way where it’s just like, ‘This is a low budget, so let’s fucking go for it.'”
Weintraub then asked if that was part of the reason why the film could afford to have such a lack of dialogue — just two lines are spoken in the entire film — which Duffield confirmed.
“I had so many meetings where it was just like, ‘Hey, this set piece is probably 12 shots, it needs to be eight.’ Every time you see an alien, it’s X amount of dollars, and we had to know that going in and shooting. Then we had so many weather issues or issues that every movie has, but then the problem is, ‘Well, I can rewrite it to be shorter on set,’ like I had to be like, ‘I have to figure out how to be shorter, but also it has to be this many shots or less.’
It can’t be more shots, or it can’t be more complicated shots because if it gets more complicated, it gets more expensive. So we had the DNEG team being like, ‘This will probably cost more if you do this kind of move.’ And so that was also a very dizzying part of it, but also, that’s the fun of making movies. You’re winging it. You plan for two years, and then you get to set and none of the plans are applicable anymore, and you’re like, ‘Well, there better be aliens in this movie at some point.'”
The Value of a Dollar in Making ‘No One Will Save You’
The movie looks exceptionally good for its limited budget, and Weintraub was keen to find out how smart the team was with its budget and in particular, how deceptive the cost of some shots could be when they seemed more simple than one would think. Sometimes, those not in the business may think you can shave costs by obscuring the views of CGI-produced images but as Duffield notes, that can actually blow the cost up further.
“There were a couple of times where I was like, ‘I’m gonna be really clever, and you’ll see alien shadows and stuff that’ll cost less than an alien,’ and it doesn’t. So then that made me feel stupid. I should have just shown the alien because I’m paying for the alien,” he said. “It’s maybe a little cheaper, but it’s not like you would think, like, ‘Oh, it’s 20%,’ and it’s like 85%. So there’s that, and then there’s so much visual effects in the movie. They did so much for not an insane budget. This movie was significantly cheaper than, like, Cocaine Bear, which I produced, and that had a bear doing coke in the broad daylight. This was a little easier because it was at least covered in darkness, but DNEG really worked hard.”
Duffield even admitted wanting to scale back the number of times the aliens would be on screen but actually had to be told by the studio that it wasn’t necessary, a rare change in terms of filmmaking. He explained:
“Sometimes I feel like, should you lose an alien? And then even like the studio would be like, ‘Well, what’s the fun in losing an alien?’ But you’re really stretching the dollar as far as it’ll go. Even stuff like shadows cost. There’s a cost to it, and you would think, ‘Oh, I could do this practically or something,’ and then you’re very quickly like, ‘Oh, you can’t do it practically because it feels like you’re just moving a cardboard cut out around.’ It’s all challenging, but it’s all so fun.”
No One Will Save You is streaming now on Hulu.