Directed by Sebastian Schipper, “Victoria” (2015) was shot in a single sequence shot. A unique take of more than two hours during which Laia Costa walks in Berlin before sunrise.
Victoria: taking more than two hours
Filming a scene of a few minutes in the sequence is one thing. But making a whole film like that is quite a feat. However, some feature films have even succeeded, and without special effects. This is the case of Victoria (2015), which, unlike other films that used digital effects to hide cuts (birdman is for example a fake sequence shot, contrary to The Russian Ark), needed a single take of 2h14!
The film takes place in Berlin and features Victoria, a young Spaniard who nightclubs spell. There she meets Sonne and his group of friends. They decide to continue the evening a bit before dawn but their escapade will end badly.
For the filming of Victoria, director Sebastian Schipper only needed to activate his camera over three days, between 4:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. He and his team made the first take just after rehearsals, then a second ten days later, before the third, 48 hours later, was satisfactory for the filmmaker. Thus, everything that we see in the film takes place in real-time.
To be able to achieve such a feat, Sebastian Schipper first had to make some adjustments so that the different places that Victoria must cross are close enough. And thus facilitate the work of the cameraman who operates using a Steadicam. In particular, the director had to do build the nightclub decor where the film begins because no club was nearby.
A tense and improvised shooting
In addition, the experience was special for the actors who had no room for error. All the more complex as they had a scenario of only a dozen pages with indications on the scenes, the places, and the characters. The actors, therefore, had to improvise the majority of their dialogues. This is particularly the case when Sonne and Victoria steal beers from a grocery store.
Laia Costa, the interpreter of Victoria, still had twelve non-consecutive days to rehearse with the other actors and the team. A rather short preparation finally because the director did not want a shoot where everything was controlled, where everything would be “perfect”, as he explained to Telerama as well as during the press conference at the Berlinale 2015.
All those before me who were tempted to make a film in a single sequence shot did so by trying to imitate a normal film. That is, with countless repetitions to achieve perfection, to control the uncontrollable. Victoria, on the contrary, speaks of the loss of control, of the sharing of responsibilities. It is an improvisation in the musical sense of the term. A punk improvisation.
An additional difficulty for the actress who has precisely used all this tension. Indeed, shooting so early in the morning, fatigue was inevitable. But it put Laia Costa in a state similar to how her character must have felt. This is precisely what Sebastian Schipper is looking for with the film. make it an experience for the viewer. That he can feel this feeling when leaving a nightclub, between night and day when fatigue and excitement intertwine.
As said above, you can’t afford to make mistakes when shooting in a single take of more than two hours. This, therefore, requires a great deal of concentration on everyone’s part. However, there have been a few hiccups during filming. For example, at the start of the film, when Victoria goes out to take her bike. Laia Costa can be seen looking away for a moment. Sebastian Schipper explains in the audio commentary that she saw him walking towards his car.
Also, in the middle of the film, after the robbery, Victoria must take the wheel to leave the scene with her acolytes. A chaotic moment on the screen as on the set. The director was present in the trunk to guide Laia Costa on which route to take. But because of him, she got involved in a bad street. The shouting of Sebastian Schipper giving instructions was cut out of the audio edit. Moreover, the cameraman present in the car had the good reflex of filming downwards so as not to see the film crew appear when the car passed in front of them. Thus, all this chaos we feel at this moment is real.
Finally, there is also oversight of Laia Costa at the very end of the film. When