‘Free Guy’ | Anatomy of a Scene

‘Free Guy’ | Anatomy of a Scene

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‘Free Guy’ | Anatomy of a Scene

The director Shawn Levy narrates a sequence from the film, starring Ryan Reynolds.

Hi this is Shawn Levy. I’m the director and one of the producers of “Free Guy.” So this scene is kind of a turning point for the protagonist named Guy— played by Ryan Reynolds— who is a innocent bank teller who slowly becomes aware that he is a background character inside a video game. And in this fictional video game, entitled Free City, we differentiate between NPCs, otherwise known as non-player characters, versus players, who are people in the real world who come in and play the game and are identified by their sunglasses. The sunglasses give players a heads up display of the power-ups, and weaponry, and hidden treasures within this video game city. So there were a few different layers of aesthetic design in approaching “Free Guy.” The main one and the first one was really rigorous differentiation between the video game world and the real world. So everything in the video game world is shot on a large format camera with spherical lenses, tremendous depth of field, and clean composition. “Excuse me. Do you see this?” I wanted all of it to be additive layers of saturation and overwhelming visual spectacle. I wanted this sequence, frankly, to be a little bit overwhelming to the audience, like there’s too much to take in. Because that’s exactly what Ryan’s character, Guy, is experiencing. As I was preparing for the movie, I played a lot of video games. What I started to see in the video games that I was playing and watching for research is a very specific camera movement style. It was almost robotic in its speed and fluidity. So we designed a move that required a robotic arm. And we programmed the move to move around the character of Guy as he sees all the things he sees through these glasses. “Ohhhhh, what is happening?”

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