The Big Picture
- Director Niclas Larsson wrote a book he called “The Storm” to provide detailed information to the crew during the production of his film Mother, Couch.
- The cast of the film, including Ellen Burstyn and Ewan McGregor, didn’t receive “The Storm” book and instead focused on what was already in the script, which allowed them to bring a unique interpretation to their roles.
- Larsson appreciated the collaboration between the actors and the crew, as unexpected discoveries during scenes required him to make changes to “The Storm” book, resulting in a beautiful translation between the two.
This year’s Toronto International Film Festival is underway, running through September 17. The annual event spotlights hundreds of films throughout its run, featuring premieres for new and seasoned filmmakers across a variety of genres. Among the lineup is Niclas Larsson, who made his feature directorial debut at TIFF with Mother, Couch. To promote the film, Larsson stopped by Collider’s media studio at the Cinema Center at MARBL, where he revealed that he didn’t want to give the cast or crew too much information during production.
When speaking with Collider Editor-in-Chief Steve Weintraub, Larsson talked about how he decided to disperse details about each scene of Mother, Couch. The crew gained the most information after Larsson said he “was so sick and tired of them not understanding me fully in my script.” So, Larsson wrote what he dubs “The Storm” book, which breaks down every necessary detail for the crew and also serves as a base for the shooting schedule. He explained:
“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.”
The ‘Mother, Couch’ Cast Only Knew the Basics
The cast, which features the likes of Ellen Burstyn and Ewan McGregor, was another story. Unlike the crew, they didn’t receive The Storm book, or much else, really — but it ultimately worked in their favor. Larsson shared that he asked Burstyn and McGregor if they wanted to read the book, revealing that the trio “unanimously” agreed not to, instead opting to focus on what was already in the script. Moreover, doing so allowed them to explore the story in different ways, bringing a “beautiful kind of translation” to the screen. Larsson said:
“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 follows three estranged siblings — David, Gruffud, and Linda — who reunite to visit their mother. However, they face just one little hiccup: their mother refuses to move off a couch at the furniture store. Along with Burstyn and McGregor, the film stars Rhys Ifans, Lara Flynn Boyle, Taylor Russell, Lake Bell, and F. Murray Abraham. Watch Weintraub’s full interview with Larsson below and don’t miss the rest of our coverage from TIFF 2023.