About the Production
Making Closed Circuit, a thriller rooted in the world of today, required knowledge and expertise not only about filmmaking but also about an idiosyncratic criminal justice system.
Working Title Films principals Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner had produced a number of successful contemporary thrillers, including The Interpreter. Since 9/11 in the U.S. and 7/7 in the U.K., Bevan found himself aware of how "the U.K.'s criminal justice system has changed enormously. This was something I had been discussing with my barrister friend Tim Owen, QC [Queen's Counsel]. Over the years, he has worked on fascinating criminal cases and I had mentioned doing a dramatic film in that setting. It's an arena not often explored on the big screen. Defence of the Realm, from 1986, was a film I had in mind as precursor because it is about a conspiracy inside the corridors of British power.
"I gravitated towards exploring what would happen today in a highest-priority terrorism case within the context of the British legal system. The ins and outs of its courts are actually quite cinematic; as Tim pointed out, not all legal work takes place in court. Deals get cut in offices 'behind the scenes,' and the outside world doesn't really know about it."
Bevan contacted another filmmaker well-known for acclaimed contemporary thrillers: Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things screenwriter Steve Knight. Bevan says, "I knew that Steve would be able to impart relatable characters into a compelling story while remaining in the realm of believability."
The screenwriter was eager to collaborate with Working Title on the idea. After conferring with Bevan and Owen, Knight began to hone his original screenplay around a U.K. terrorism trial's defendant's legal representation -- a barrister and a Special Advocate (SA).
Bevan remarks, "When the trial gets going, each is not allowed to know what the other one is doing; they're 'the defense team' and yet they cannot coordinate efforts. The evolution of the SA has been significant for the legal system."
Knight elaborates, "This was a change in the law for particularly sensitive, and usually terrorist-related, cases. In such cases, the defense barrister and the SA are not allowed to interact or even speak outside of court. This is to prevent secret evidence that the SA is given from being socially passed on to the defense barrister -- whether accidental or not. The person being tried, the defendant, will never have all the facts in front of him.
"I thought that if the defense barrister and the SA were a man and a woman who had a personal history that wasn't known to the world, this was ripe for a thriller treatment. There would be overlap among the legal profession, the workings of Parliament and of government forces, and human beings working at relationships."
Bevan adds, "In our story, the pressure sets in when the human element runs up against the conspiracy thriller element."
Knight clarifies, "Closed Circuit is a story of skullduggery and things gone wrong. I do feel that the British judicial system is in pretty good shape, but it needs to be examined every now and again. In writing this screenplay, I spoke to many people in the legal profession who care that it be just and right. I hope this comes across in our movie.
"Tim Owen's advice and influence were essential to my work on this script. I could check in with him about what was real and what wasn't."
The screenwriter's research included attending trials, during which he closely observed "people in pressure-cooker situations: someone facing 20 years in prison, for instance."
Work on the script continued over a two-year period. In 2011, producer Chris Clark, who had started his career at Working Title, joined the project. Clark had been with the company back when the idea took shape, and "Tim Bevan mentioned that there was now a script and showed it to me. It had a very modern take on paranoia, as there is a lot of fear in society today including at the government level. I loved how, as the story progresses, the romance aspect complicates things in an unusual way. I thought Steve Knight had taken the original idea of a contemporary legal thriller and ran with it."
Knight admits that he found "the world of the legal profession to be particularly fascinating to write about because it is enclosed; this is not only in that you have a set of buildings, the Inns of Court, but also archaic traditions and methods of dress.
"In writing scripts, especially London stories, I try to find paths that haven't been trodden particularly heavily in movies before. Usually these are right under your nose, and as a writer you have to identify them and then try to tell the story."
Clark adds, "What Steve is brilliant at in his scripts like Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises is taking you into different parts of London, parts we may think we know something about but which we don't. He layers in complexities yet always makes the story entertaining."
John Crowley was approached to direct. "We were very keen to work with John, and had developed projects with him in the past," notes Bevan. "In the films he had directed, he was able to conjure up a lot of tension in unexpected moments. That's what we were looking for a director to bring to Closed Circuit; we wanted the audience's comfort to be challenged over the course of the movie, as a sense of unease seeps in and the heartbeat rate goes up.
"John is also well-known for his stage work, which shows his strength in eliciting subtlety from actors -- something that was absolutely appropriate for our movie."
Clark agreed: "I could see John directing our movie because of how he is able to tap into -- and how he is able to get actors to tap into -- psychological aspects of the characters. He always elicits truthful performances."
"John has a European sensibility," assesses Knight. "He and I spoke about structure, and I was able to make changes so the script worked better and it was ready for filming."
Crowley remarks, "When I first heard about the project from Working Title, my ears pricked up. I'm a fan of Steve's screenwriting. Thrillers are perhaps my favorite genre of film, and to do an intelligent web-of-conspiracy tale in a London setting felt like fresh territory. I wanted to try to make the film with degrees of authenticity in both location and story.
"I have always been curious about the law because it feels drenched in ritual and in a codified language. Of course, a lot of people in the legal world work hard to try and de-mystify it. Yet its structure remains a source of fascination."
The director committed to the feature not least because he feels that "there are a lot of people who feel very strongly that there are dangers to having closed court hearings, and that these fly in the face of due process. If you cannot have revealed, in open court, the evidence that someone has against you and have it tested, are you suspending something which is central to a fair legal system?"
While the title can be seen as referencing the closed sessions in the story's trial that exclude the defendant from the proceedings, it also refers to the fact that there are half a million Closed Circuit cameras visible in London -- and more that are not. Bevan comments, "Surveillance in the U.K. is greater than anywhere else in the world. At any time, people will know what we're up to..."
The filmmakers looked to cast actors who would believably incarnate the characters' intensity, secretiveness, and resourcefulness. Australian actor Eric Bana met all these criteria to star as Martin.
Bana remembers, "I read the script on a plane -- and was captivated by it. I thought it was original, strong, and smart." A meeting with the director quickly followed, and for Bana "sitting down with John and talking for hours cemented my passion for the project.
"My character of Martin Rose has worked hard in a profession that takes a real toll on people's personal relationships because of the amount of hours required in preparing for cases. Martin's marriage has failed, but he remains driven, competitive, and confident -- an expert in his world.
"The script gave me the confidence to play Martin, because Steve did such a great job with the dialogue and the language. There's no holding back with this vocabulary for these characters; they have command of the English language, and there's a dry wit among them."
Clark comments, "There can be a coldness to the legal and government arenas, but Closed Circuit has warmth in the emotions that break through for the characters. Audiences respond to authenticity, and our script makes use of the actual language of the legal profession."
Knight notes, "I enjoy writing for characters who in the real world would be articulate, because it gives you the dramatic rationale to have people speak their minds. The barristers I've met don't lack self-confidence, and I don't think they can lack self-confidence if they're going to be successful."
Bevan adds, "Eric is playing a man who is king of his game; at the start of the film, he is cocky. But then two things happen: the 'powers at play' of the establishments and institutions start to bear down on him, and the woman he has feelings for becomes mortally endangered. "I knew Eric could deliver the highly calibrated performance we needed, as it has to be credible how the character develops doubts and undergoes a 180-degree turn. Everyone always misstates that as 'a 360-degree turn,' but it is in fact a 180."
Crowley remembers, "The second Eric's name was mentioned to play the role, I got excited. I knew that he would be believable as a barrister."
Bana offers, "Closed Circuit is a grown-up drama where the level of danger is slowly amplified. What it reminds me of is some of the great movie thrillers of the 1970s."
"I adore those great films made in America by Sydney Pollack and Sidney Lumet," seconds Crowley. "However, there aren't any references to them peppered into our film because I feel you have to go make the film that wants to be rather than trying to make it like other films."
Bana adds, "The story we're telling is extremely relevant now, to how much we're watched and how much information is being controlled, and to the reduced lack of privacy in society in general."
To play Claudia, Martin's former lover who defiantly remains SA on the closely watched case, the filmmakers called on Golden Globe Award-nominated British actress Rebecca Hall. She had played a supporting part in Working Title's Frost/Nixon a few years earlier, and the company had long hoped to cast her in a bigger role. Bevan enthuses, "There's an everywoman quality about her, which I believe is important to have in a movie because men and women alike can identify with her. She conveys both strength and vulnerability."
Clark marvels, "You empathize with Rebecca's characterizations. Emotionally, she is such a nimble actress."
"She has a laser-like intelligence," comments Crowley. "I felt there would be a freshness to casting her opposite Eric."
Clark adds, "The character is highly organized and controlling, but she also has an idealistic streak. The pursuit of the truth is paramount for her. As the story unfolds, she has to deal with obstacles of a darker nature than she's ever faced."
Hall found herself drawn to the material. She states, "This script intrigued me so much that I started reading up on closed court proceedings. It remains a controversial issue. The screenplay also made me think about how much our lives are tracked and logged, which is not something that we can really control or change.
"On a character basis, the dramatic dynamic between two barristers in contemporary England fascinated me. They're working towards the same goal, yet not together."
Bana adds, "Martin and Claudia are sharing the secret that they've had a past relationship, which puts them in professional peril; they could be stripped of their ability to practice. That points up the drama in the story early on, because the audience is in on their secret."
"That makes it quite spicy," laughs Hall. "These two no longer speak, and when they're not allowed to have any contact with each other -- they start to.
"The story is engaging because you care about these characters, and smart because it is about concerns pertinent to the times we live in."
The characters' past romantic history was discussed by Crowley with the two actors, both together and individually. The director says, "Martin and Claudia are both sort of in denial about how important their relationship was; when we join them as they re-encounter each other, they disagree about its nature.
"I liked the task of starting with these characters in a fractured place emotionally and then, as the events of the story unfold, having them realize what they are to each other. I felt that this chimed with the film's larger themes of secrecy and transparency."
Knight says, "With Eric and Rebecca working so well together, the chemistry between their characters registers on-screen. I wrote his character as being very successful yet vulnerable; he drinks too much and is not particularly fond of himself, and I think that comes through in Eric's performance.
"Her character is very driven and has principles. Martin used to have those, and as Claudia begins to affect him they meet in the middle."
Three months before filming began, the filmmakers tasked Bana and Hall with gaining familiarity of the British justice system. "I threw myself into it as much as possible," reports Hall. "Hopefully, this informed everything I did when making the film."
Bana already had the advantage of having "married into a legal family back in Australia" with members in the justice system. He remarks, "People whose career is law are familiar to me, and I know their level of intensity and intellect."
Still, given the story's crucial specifics of the ins and outs of the U.K. judicial process, Bana and Hall were glad to be able to shadow Tim Owen, who had remained with the project as legal advisor in addition to being an executive producer. Joined by Crowley, they sat in on cases and learned about processes and intricacies relevant to the story they would be telling.
Crowley notes, "Speaking to barristers, you hear how the progress of a case can be like playing a card game. You never know what the Crown prosecution service actually has until it's revealed in closed session. Even then, you might wonder: 'Is the source dubious? How was this information obtained?'"
Hall marvels, "Every barrister I met was capable of speaking in complete sentences without hesitation, without saying 'um,' and without grasping for words. It's remarkable; that is their training, that is their life.
"There are links between being a barrister and being an actor, in standing in front of people and speaking rhetoric. But it's such a different mindset. The dexterity I witnessed was just brilliant; I watched one woman in a court case turn everything on a dime."
While Bana initially had Australia's judicial system front-of-mind, Hall found that "the go-to place in my head was American courtrooms. I think that's because the film landscape of legal thrillers is pretty much American. So I was glad to be able to concentrate on representing the British law world, quirks and all."
Crowley adds, "I was quite keen to try for an accurate representation of the British legal world. I do feel that people have in mind cliches from U.K. television dramas. The more I saw firsthand, the less it looked like those depictions."
Hall notes, "During these 'field trips,' there was rarely a question John didn't know the answer to. But when he didn't, he had the confidence to say 'I don't know. Let's ask somebody.' That's an attractive quality in a director, which for me instills a certain amount of trust.
"Since I couldn't watch an SA in chambers, I concentrated on watching defense barristers. With some elements specific to Claudia, I had to imagine -- as we do in the movie world. Being with Eric made it a lot of fun to do the background work."
Bana says, "I did 10 days' worth of advance research in the U.K. I then went home to continue research in Australia.
"One great advantage of being in the U.K. before production began was to get started on costuming with [costume designer] Natalie Ward -- this is probably the best-dressed character I've ever played!"
"I shopped a bit for Eric at Harrod's [department store]," says Ward. "But we had all of Martin's suits made; Eric loved the whole experience of going to the tailor. It helped him understand the QC's sense of importance. He would move to stand differently."
Ward and Hall visited the Chancery Lane shop of Ede & Ravenscroft, tailors whose business dates back nearly four centuries. Hall notes, "Ede & Ravenscroft is where barristers go to get gowns and wigs, but also their designer suits." Shop staffers advised the duo on customers' choices and habits, and Ward then had the production buy many of Claudia's costumes there.
Knight reminds, "There's a theatrical element; barristers are performers with costumes who have to stand up and advocate."
Bana elaborates, "Truthfully, it was a key part of the role; people in this world take their wardrobe very seriously. Watching proceedings, I was amazed at how individualistic people would be within a narrow [courtroom appearance] brief."
Another advantage for Bana was being no stranger to doing physical preparation for a role; for Closed Circuit, he had to learn to row. The sequence introducing Martin shows him "sculling" down the River Thames, and he is seen elsewhere in the movie rowing as well. A coach was hired in Melbourne, and Bana spent days rowing on the Yarra River before continuing his training in the U.K.
Knight reveals, "I wrote Martin as a rower because it puts us on the River Thames, which is one of the finest ways to see London. With regard to our story, going down the river you see the MI5 and the House of Parliament buildings -- staring at each other!" Bana took it all in stride -- and in stroke. He muses, "It's always fun to have a physical component with a character; that's an excuse for me to be active and learn a new skill. I had never rowed before. But it was even more physical than I expected.
"I can understand why it's so addictive, particularly for my character as it's a sport that suits him. What was harder than I expected was to get the technique down pat and act like someone who's done it all their life. It's difficult to master -- you can't think about much else when you're rowing -- but I would be up for doing it again on my own time."
For her part, Hall was intent on "replicating the very specific world that exists for our characters, for instance, the note pads and highlighter pens that Claudia would have in her briefcase. Also, you never see a barrister around London without a small wheeled suitcase because they have so many binders full of paperwork for their cases; this is one profession that can't go all into the digital age.
"Between the actors, the props department, and the wardrobe department, we honed in on all details with regard to the intricacies of the British legal system. One of the things that I love most about being an actor is that it gives you short-term immersion into a world you would never have experienced or inhabited."
With the two leads set, the filmmakers sought to surround them with "a great array of players," says Clark. "Eric and Rebecca are the stars, but in filling out the cast we wanted an ensemble feeling."
Irish actor Ciaran Hinds had been sought by Crowley years earlier for his first feature, Intermission. "The [shooting schedule] dates didn't work for him," remembers the director. "He's one of those character actors who lends such distinctive flavor to anything he does, and I was glad to finally get him in a movie of mine."
Hinds signed on to play the avuncular and "old-school" solicitor Devlin, who works alongside barrister Martin. The actor's interest echoed Tim Bevan's instincts for the material's potential. Hinds remarks, "The Americans do these very well, and here was a rare British one that tracks the law and a conspiracy. I felt this would be a proper grown-up film. I liked the script's look at people trying to prevent terrorism: are they on the right path? Are they backing the right horse?
"I also liked the dialogue in the script, particularly what is being spoken about in guarded ways outside of court. The phrasing is heightened; there's a little something underneath. I'd seen John's work in films and theater, and I knew he would be attentive to the lines and the emotions."
The actor was also eager to act again with Eric Bana. "It was a joy working with him on our first movie together, Munich," recalls Hinds. "We were part of a close unit in that. The relationship our characters have this time as colleagues is even more personal; they have great respect for each other, and have worked together for over a decade. Eric and I had to play the kind of connection you have with someone where you go in to work with them with a trust and an ease. We played it, and we have it. I hope that Eric feels the same way!" Bana affirms that he does, adding that "Ciaran is so gifted; his abilities helped us really get at the nature of the Devlin/Martin relationship. He's a powerhouse."
Academy Award winner Jim Broadbent topped everyone's list to play the Attorney General. The character -- never identified by his own name -- is the chief legal advisor of the Crown and, as the actor explains, "is the representative of the government who interfaces with the law."
Broadbent had starred in the acclaimed production of The Pillowman that was staged by John Crowley at the National Theatre. Accordingly, says the actor, "John was the big draw for me to do Closed Circuit. He's a very practical, imaginative, and honest director. I have complete faith in him."
He adds that "what attracted me to Steve's screenplay was its grounding in reality. It's relevant and topical, with insight into an issue that is unfolding in front of us and I'm sure will continue to do so. The screenplay dramatizes threatening situations, but it also has irony and humor.
"What was great fun for me to play was that my character communicates more in human terms than with legal jargon...and he's never quite saying what he thinks."
Crowley remarks, "Subtext is more often dealt with in the theatre than on film, but Steve gets the specifics in. It's that art of saying something without saying it; the meaning of what you're saying is written in invisible ink alongside what you're saying. Everything Jim's character says has a double meaning, and I know he relished acting that."
Another veteran actor, Kenneth Cranham, was delighted to be part of Closed Circuit because after 45 years of making movies he would at last be "playing a judge. I've only ever been [cast as] a QC before; finally, I'm getting somewhere in life!
"The extraordinary thing about playing one is, you sit right up at the top of the court all on your own, you put on the wig and the glasses, you peer over the glasses...and, you're the judge. The room feels it and so do you."
Cranham's character of Cameron Fischer provides guidance for not only the main characters of Martin and Claudia but also the audience. As the actor notes, "Through him we grasp a basic premise of this story, something that is part of the current zeitgeist: certain trials are held almost in secret because the evidence given would be so incriminating to a person that they would be in real danger."
The director wanted Cranham for the part because, as a boy, Crowley had gone three times to see the celebrated stage revival of An Inspector Calls in which Cranham played the lead role. "He put some work my way because I impressed him," muses Cranham. "On the set, John is very thorough; he gives himself choices in [filming scenes'] coverage, and I can tell that he enjoys selecting which bits and shots to use."
Anne-Marie Duff had starred in Crowley's most recent feature, Is Anybody There? and he contacted her to play Melissa, a government worker who is not what she first appears to be. Duff confides, "John and I had been in touch since the last movie, and I wanted to work with him again, but I wouldn't necessarily have cast myself as this character. It was a nice surprise -- and there are elements of surprise, different sides, to her.
"Portraying Melissa was new territory for me, so I did as much research as I could. I'd never worn a suit before at work; I'm either in period costume or a track suit. I enjoyed getting to play somebody with sass and authority, 'owning' her language. She has her shields, but I tried to inhabit her as a human being."
Duff admits that she "had no idea, before working on Closed Circuit, how intertwined the legal system and the national security agencies are. We are living in a world that is swollen with fear. The film explores questions of what's for the greater good -- and who has the right to say so. Riz Ahmed gets to give a great speech which keys into that."
Ahmed, a rising U.K. actor, auditioned to play Sharma, a national security agent of MI5. The actor notes, "Steve Knight wrote one of my favorite films, Dirty Pretty Things. This script also gripped me as a contemporary thriller. The content was bold and timely in looking at how much we will allow the state to intrude on our personal freedoms. These are pressing issues that are close to my heart.
"From his perspective, Sharma sees himself as being at war. In terms of protecting the national interest he thinks, surely that's something everyone can come on board with. He presents himself to Claudia as a helping hand in her investigations, but she may not see it that way and there's a degree of mistrust."
Paradoxically, Ahmed found in acting opposite Rebecca Hall that she was "a warm presence who creates a relaxed vibe, putting everyone at ease with her manner. When you're doing scenes with her, she is infinitely adaptable."
Ahmed felt that he could work closely with Crowley in exploring the character. He explains, "I found that John likes getting into the psychology of characters, which always appeals to me. I constructed a back story for Sharma including a mixed heritage and a certain point where his world view became very fixed.
"When I came to John with this, he was receptive; later, when he was giving me direction on the set he'd kind of tap into the back story. He's unusually sensitive to an actor's process, and he puts performance first as he tweaks each take."
Denis Moschitto, a German actor of Italian descent, heard from his agent that casting director Fiona Weir was "looking for an actor who could play Turkish [for the crucial role of defendant Farroukh Erdogan]. I called Fiona up, and she asked if I could put myself on tape. I guess she liked what she saw.
"Myself, I liked the part: Farroukh's involvement in the attack is certain, but his actual role is unclear. Is he a small-time crook who got involved with worse people? Is he a terrorist mastermind? Or is he something else? Either way, he has something to hide."
The lone American cast member of Closed Circuit is Julia Stiles. "My part is small," she admits. "But I wanted to be involved in this movie. I was impressed at how the script combined aspects of political thriller, suspense, and character piece. "I enjoyed working with Eric Bana -- though we don't get to look at each other much because our scenes play out amidst suspicion; our acting was largely about listening."
An accomplished stage performer, Stiles had been to see Crowley's Broadway production of The Pillowman and now found that "John's theatrical experience is evident in how he speaks with the actors. It's refreshing, and the best thing about working with him was that you can trust his judgment; if he was happy with a take, then I was fine with it too."
The director notes, "The actors and their process are always front and center for me on the set. Even if there's an action sequence being filmed, it's important to me that the character aspects come through. The dance between the actors and the camera is what makes moviemaking so much fun. When the camera rolls, that's their moment to crack the scene."
Crowley called for an intensive two weeks' worth of rehearsal with the cast before production began. He relays that "rehearsals are hugely important to me, and not necessarily because I come from theatre. Rather, it's that I've never directed anything for stage or screen that hasn't had characters I'm curious about." A final script read-through brought all the actors together four days before the start of filming.
Hinds states, "You have to prepare on your own, getting background and information. But to have everybody discussing the meat of the scenes helped us. Many of us were going into new territory with this story about the law, and this way we were better prepared for being on- camera with each other."
Hall adds, "A lot of actors use the phrase 'sparring partner.' Well, if you're playing a courtroom scene then you really are sparring with each other. To have an actor responding to your nuances gives you a lot of energy and brings the text alive."
Moschitto remembers, "At the read-through, I looked around and thought, 'I've never been in a room with so many great actors.' When you work in England, even the smallest parts are cast with Royal Shakespeare Company actors.
"John Crowley sensed that I was a little bit overwhelmed; he took all of that away by making it easy for me to blend in."
"For an actor, the prep period was a dream come true," says Bana. "John understands actors and knows how to make the process enjoyable for them. He's also incredibly well-prepared, yet on the set he'd be a lot of fun because we'd already communicated so well in rehearsals. So you very quickly get into the zone of what he's after for each scene."
The director was equally well-prepared for the post-production phase, since he would be teaming for a third time with film editor Lucia Zucchetti, following Intermission and Boy A, for which she had received a BAFTA Award.
Other key members of the creative team had perspectives on the material and the genre from past projects. Cinematographer Adriano Goldman had lensed both a legal drama (Conviction) and a personal drama with a domestic terrorism theme (The Company You Keep); production designer Jim Clay and costume designer Natalie Ward had previously teamed on the international suspense thriller The Debt.
Ward remarks, "When you get a script through the post and just have to read it in one go, that's always a good sign. I was excited immediately by Closed Circuit and by the diversity in the costumes prospects; the characters were a cross-section of contemporary London, from different classes and different areas."
All four convened in meetings and outlined their contributions to Crowley's visualizing of the screenplay. "John spoke eloquently about scenes and characters," remembers Ward. "We all worked towards what he wanted, which he was able to share with us."
Clay explains, "Nothing was to distract from the story and the characters. This is a serious movie with an intelligent script, and the audience needed to feel that they were taking part in it so they can concentrate on the narrative.
"For this movie, we wanted to help convey the psychological climate at the locations and in the settings. I made some contemporary additions amidst the legal traditions."
Before production began, comments Clay, "John and I would discuss the 'mood boards' that I came up with, after which I would develop sketches. Each set has multiple visuals attached to it, and the designs develop with the director's process. More and more, 3D models are being generated on the computer. But John asked for a number of actual physical models so he could put his mind to how the spaces would work out."
Encouraged by Crowley, Ward went to courts for research. She notes, "People know you need to do research for period films; you have to do just as much for contemporary ones because you cannot assume anything regarding a world you don't know much about. You're making less and buying more, but you still have to realize a character.
"I didn't know that members of the public can walk in and sit in on cases. It became addictive; I went to probably more than I needed to, watching judges and barristers and QCs. I also met with them to discuss what they wear, and why, since there can be a bit of showing off. Then there's the element of wanting to look like they're not showing off, as if they don't care."
Neither was to be the case with the film's two lead characters. Ward remarks, "John and I agreed that they should look attractive. Eric had his three-piece suits from the tailor, and Rebecca was already looking the part. But the characters are only slightly stylish; it's a heightened reality, not a glamorous film world."
Additional research trips for Ward included one with her assistant to a Turkish-populated Green Lane neighborhood in North London, to take photographs of residents. "We were looking for women, but we got more shots of men because a lot of the women didn't want their photo taken," Ward recalls.
It was agreed upon by all concerned early on that the overall color palate for Closed Circuit would be muted colors, greys, blacks, and dark blues. "We're quite sparing with color," notes Crowley. "I think our tight hold on that works nicely, adding to the atmosphere of chilliness as events unfold and our characters are being watched more. "I wanted the setting to feel recognizably like London, but with the added tension of it being photographed by someone who is not English. Adriano was not trying to look at London as 'an outsider,' but rather as someone who doesn't carry any baggage. He responds to the city in a fresh sense."
Exploring the concept of perspective as it relates to the story's surveillance themes, Crowley had the idea to film the bombing explosion that opens Knight's script and sets the story in motion "with 12 screens simultaneously, so that the point of view is that of the persons behind the cameras observing what's going on in the streets.
"That idea began to thread itself through other parts of the film. So, wherever we were shooting, Adriano would carry a couple of small digital cameras and we would often cover the scene from the point of view of at least one surveillance camera. I'd think, 'We'll never use this,' but we wound up leaning on that material because the question of who might be behind which camera would come up during editing the movie with Lucia. That approach developed alongside working in a more classical filmmaking style."
Goldman comments, "On shoots, I rely very much on a practical, realistic approach. I'm usually trying to light the setting more than the actors."
Pivotal scenes of Claudia at home ultimately became more realistic than expected. Clay reveals, "We were going to build Claudia's apartment, which would have given us more freedom. However, because she is under surveillance there had to be a distinct view from the inside looking out. So we ended up going to a real residence, which was difficult for [supervising location manager] Dan Whitty to pull off. But he did, and that view is fabulous!"
Conversely, the production searched high and low for a location that could serve as Martin's boathouse sanctuary. When none satisfactory was found, the crew ended up building one on a jetty in Battersea.
Crowley reveals, "Jim finds unusual locations, little hidden corners of London; he has an amazing selection in his back pocket. The location where we wound up for the boathouse was one he spotted years ago and knew that at some point would be of use."
Clay's unit was tasked with differentiating Claudia's milieu from Martin's: her apartment would be sleek, precise, and organized while his boathouse would be a bit old-fashioned and messy. Goldman reports, "John told us all that from the start. Everything in Claudia's world would be softer and brighter; on Martin's side, things are a bit darker.
"As the pace changes during the story, the camera style changes little by little. By the second half, once the suspense is heightened we're using handheld cameras more."
Ward adds, "When things go wrong for the two main characters and they are in dark places they never expected to be, I give a surreal edge to what they end up wearing."
Goldman notes, "John always had in mind the rhythm he wanted to achieve. He also understands our crafts and does not get stressed out by limitations -- like when you have to change your plans after you arrive at a location and see just what it's offering." The production was headquartered in the Gillette Building, an art deco office and works development in West London. Chris Clark states, "In reading the script, you knew that it would have to be real locations and you knew that securing them would be a challenge. Dan Whitty and his team were fantastic; they were at it while we were still casting, so we were able to hit the ground running once filming started."
As a result of the careful preparation and considerable local cooperation, only a few days of the nine weeks of filming had to be spent working in studio confines; three of the nine weeks consisted of nighttime shooting, including some weekend nights.
Among the many locations lensed at in and around London by the production were Wembley Stadium, Borough Market, The Modern Pantry cafe, St. Mark's Church, Marylebone Train Station, Chinatown in SoHo, Primrose Hill Park, and the Gillette itself. The prison sequence was filmed at an active one -- Wormwood Scrubs Prison. "You can't create that kind of atmosphere on a set," says John Crowley.
Denis Moschitto reflects, "Filming inside the prison left a huge impact on me. I would be standing for scenes and prisoners would be standing inside their cells, watching through the windows. It helped me feel like Farroukh was supposed to feel."
Ciaran Hinds says, "Being at a prison does affect you; the realization is, life is going on both inside and outside the walls. You think, 'There but for the grace...'
"Then there were the Royal Courts of Justice, where you feel the weight of history and the power of the decisions being made in the big hallowed courts and corridors."
To venture into the deep core of the British legal system, the filmmakers were given permission to film in the public areas of Britain's famed Old Bailey, London's central criminal court complex; and in some areas of the iconic Inns of Court buildings. The interior shots of the courtroom where the case unfolds were filmed at Southern Crown Court in South London, with a touch of re-dressing by Jim Clay's unit.
Jim Broadbent marvels, "Being in the buildings and walking through the marble halls, even riding in the elevators, does a lot of work towards putting us into our characters."
Eric Bana agrees that "the legal precinct is so distinct with its visual presence; it's very intimidating walking into any Old Bailey courtroom, or just the inner areas' grounds.
"We couldn't shut down whole blocks or stop traffic, so there was always the element of life going on around us. It was good to stay aware of that."
Riz Ahmed adds, "Our film represents all the different faces of London that I know the city has, everything from the kabob shops to Dalston to the corridors of power, and that haven't all been on film. It added to the whole of the atmosphere and made the characters feel as real as possible."
Rebecca Hall muses, "I'm entirely a Londoner. I was born in London and have always loved the city. It was thrilling to shoot there, whether at iconic spots or where I hang out. "Our movie is about how exciting and vibrant the city can be, and also about how it can be claustrophobic with paranoia and surveillance."
Steve Knight states, "In my opinion, London is the best city in the world. It's always worth taking a look at; hopefully, in Closed Circuit, we've done so in a different way."
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