Women Talking director Sarah Polley, stars Claire Foy and Ben Whishaw and the film’s two-time Oscar-winning producer Dede Gardner talked Saturday about creating a safe space on the set to explore trauma.
The foursome made up a panel for the pic Saturday at Deadline’s The Contenders Film: Los Angeles.
The film follows a group of women trapped in a cult-like religious community as they struggle to come together and find a way to survive as they face on going sexual assaults by the men around them. Gardner described how Polley worked to protect the cast and crew while creating an secure arena for exploring such serious subject matter.
“We made a lot of choices from the beginning,” she said. “We made the decision that we would only shoot 10-hour days and that everyone would be home to put their kids to bed. We had an amazing therapist who spoke to the cast and crew before we shot and during the shoot and was available any moment. Whenever there were kids on set, [Sarah] said, ‘The minute one of you isn’t having a good time, raise your hand and we’ll stop and we’ll figure that out.’ There were just a lot of guard rails, which seemed really natural.”
Foy, who plays Salome, said the environment was unparalleled in her experience. “We were very tactile and willing to go deep quickly,” she said. “We had a huge amount of trust. There’s no way any of us could have performed the way we did if we didn’t know we were all there to support each other. … I’ve never ever done anything like it in my life, and I really hope every job is like this. And I know very painfully it won’t be.”
The film already is garnering awards, with Polley set to take home Director of the Year at the upcoming Palm Springs International Film Festival. The award has become a bit of an Oscar harbinger, with the past two winners of both being Jane Campion and Chloé Zhao.
Women Talking premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and is scheduled for a limited U.S. theatrical release December 2 via United Artists Releasing.
Check back Monday for the panel video.