Jodie Comer has spoken about a “relentless” 20-minute sequence in Help that was filmed in just one long shot, branding it the “most difficult” scene to shoot in the whole Channel 4 drama.
The Killing Eve star plays Sarah, a young care home worker in Liverpool who finds herself singlehandedly looking after the vulnerable residents during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, alongside Time’s Stephen Graham.
Throughout the intense sequence, the camera follows Sarah as she tries to get in touch with the emergency services after a resident has a dangerous coughing fit.
Speaking to press at a Q&A ahead of the one-off drama’s debut, Comer said that filming the scene required “a lot of rehearsal” and teamwork from the crew.
“I think it was such a clever decision by [director Marc Munden] because I think that sequence is relentless. It’s relentless for her and what Marc wanted was for the audience to feel exactly that and experience the exact same thing.
“What was so beautiful in a way about doing it like that was the team work, because these were long takes. These were long, long, long takes. So there was a lot of rehearsal to make sure that everybody knew where they needed to be at each moment.
“Even the pace I’m walking, I’ve got to walk a certain pace because the camera man is holding the camera. We were all kind of in sync with each other so when we were all moving like that, it was so incredible.”
“To see the team pull together like that and execute it in the way that they did was so, so great.”
Stephen Graham, who plays Tony – a resident with early onset Alzheimers – added: “It was like a ballet. It was choreographed in the shape of a ballet. You had all this stuff going on behind-the-scenes that you don’t see was just a joy to be a part of.”
Comer went onto say that the sequence was “probably the most difficult” scene to film throughout the shoot.
“Marc really pushed me on that. I remember there was a moment, we’d done this whole take and I was so in my own head. And I was like, ‘I think we’ve got it, we’ve got it, we’ve got it,’ and Marc was like, ‘No, no, no – we’re gonna do one more,’ and I was like, ‘Oh okay.’
“I was so in my own head at this point and we did it again and the moment we got in that second take, we never ever would have got in the first. And I think Marc really was phenomenal at that, knowing just when to push you that little bit more.
“So I think that was probably the most difficult for all of us really because we all really had to huddle together and work as a team.”