How ‘The Favourite’ Director and Crew Defied Period Conventions

Director Yorgos Lanthimos continues to defy conventions with “The Favourite,” a funny and savage look at the court of England’s Queen Anne in the early 1700s.

“Period films are always challenging,” he tells Variety, “and with a limited budget, it takes a lot of work. So it was hard but fun.”

Lanthimos and his crew shot most of the film at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. The helmer says that his behind-the-camera team came up with unusual solutions to create the right tone for the film.

Robbie Ryan, Cinematographer

“We shot on film, which is always my preference. And I asked Robbie to not use artificial lighting. I like to do that with all my films. It was either daylight or practical, which for this period meant candles. It was challenging, especially for the dark night scenes. We were using very wide-angle lenses, and the camera was moving quite a bit. In addition, we had to be very careful. Historical buildings must be protected, so there were rules about how many candles we could use and how close they could be to a tapestry or painting, for example.”

Fiona Crombie, Production Designer

“We had to build part of the corridor from the queen’s room to Sarah’s, but in general we did not build many sets. Mostly we tried to adapt locations. At Hatfield House, there were very few spaces to use, so we changed them according to what was going on. We used the ballroom for the dance, then for the duck race, with a ring made out of benches and chairs. We shot the dining scene there too, with a very long table. There was an old kitchen that we transformed into a spa. We moved a lot of furniture around, to create empty spaces with dark images — lonely characters in huge spaces.”

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