Synopsis : Set over the course of one night in a single hotel room, “Sanctuary” tells the story of a dominatrix (Margaret Qualley) and Hal (Christopher Abbott), her wealthy client. On the verge of inheriting his late father’s position and fortune, Hal tries to end their relationship, but when his attempt to cut ties fails, disaster strikes.
Classification:R (Sexual content and language)
Gender: Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Thriller
original language: English
Director: Zachary Wigon
Producer: Pavel Burian, David Lancaster, Ilya Stewart, Stephanie Wilcox
Writer: Micah Bloomberg
Release date (theaters): May 19, 2023 Limited
execution time: 1h 36m
production company: Hype Studios, Mosaic Films, Rumble Films (II), Charades
Q&A with actors Christopher Abbott, Margaret Qualley and director Zachary Wigon
Q: Here is the director Zach Wigon. Why not talk briefly about how he got involved in this project and how he developed his collaboration with writer Micah Bloomberg?
Zach: It was June 2020. Micah and I were on the phone and he said, “I’d really like to write some scenes. Why don’t we develop something together? So I’ll write a few lines. I said, yeah, “Let’s do it.” For a number of years I’ve been interested in making a dominatrix movie, which is a good starting point for a movie. Dominatrix work offers this really interesting paradox. I have come to the paradoxes and ironies, they are usually good.
Sorry, just throwing me into this final important code. Push him. Paradoxes and ironies tend to present good foundational narrative elements for movies. The paradox with the dominatrix is that she simultaneously has power over her clients and no power over her clients. I pitched this very vague idea to Micah: what if I had a dominatrix who was, at first, also a client? A single, vague thought. And he said, “well, many years ago I wrote a one-act play about a dominatrix with a client in a hotel room.” He had been toying with a similar idea. We started talking about it there and the story came from there.
Q: The film obviously focuses on sexual fantasy and explicitly explores the fantasies and desires of the two main characters. Was that a conscious choice to launch [these] two ugly people
ZW: I don’t know. I think they are two handsome actors. I’m not sure if I agree. Oh interesting. Ok, is that what you were looking for? Oh I got it.
Q: 98% of you knew I was joking. 2% say, “That’s pretty good.” Both are obviously beautiful. You saw how they fit into the division that [set up].
ZW: I saw Margaret in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” I was really surprised by the way she used gestures and physical movements and that she had this electricity in the way she moved on the screen. She had this intensity in the way she moved and the presence of her on the screen. I thought that she would be perfect for this character. At the same time, I had also seen her in “Fosse/Verdon”, where she is 180 degrees different, playing a completely different type of character with a lot of vulnerability, and you are seeing deep into the heart of this character.
I just thought, “Well, she would be absolutely perfect for this. We needed someone who could play this wide range of emotions and affects, and she has all of those skills.” then with Chris… I’ve been a fan of Chris for many, many years, and I’ve seen him in all kinds of movies. And one of the amazing things about Chris in all of his work is that he’s always building these cross-sections of characters, where you see who the character is on the surface, but at the same time you’re seeing all the weight and baggage and different things that the character carries with them internally, as they try to project something specific into the world. That was exactly what we needed for this Hal character. So yeah, they both looked perfect and they turned out to work.
Margaret Qualley: Thanks, Zach.
Q: Obviously both super talented, both tremendous performances in the film. Margarita, you were fantastic. So your character is only sequential. Or your character discovers that he comes to life when he plays the part that he has in the relationship.
MQ: Are you saying that I am alive when I perform?
Q: Do you relate to that? If not, when do you feel the most? When do you feel that you are the you that you want to be?
MQ: Right now. I feel more like myself when I feel like doing it, but I also really enjoy not having to do it. You know, it’s exhausting, it’s exciting to stop being me for a while. I mean, 60% of me is like, yeah, those were all sentences.
Q: Sorry, I was just like, just keep it moving. And she had an answer.
MQ: We all have these things that we are comfortable with in our own way. It’s fun to do things that you wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable doing in a day-to-day school setting. Right, with the script and taking that. we can explore that and you’re not going to lose your mind or people think you’re not that good.
Q: Great. That is a good answer. Chris, so here’s a question. As an actor in show business, was it difficult for you to play a character who likes to pretend to be other people and has powerful people who doubt your abilities and masturbate when they tell you that you are worthless?
Chris Abbott: You know, art imitates art, I guess the short answer is yes.
Q: And the length?
AC: No, no.
Q: When you were playing Hal, what parts were easier for you to jump into, that felt more natural? Which parties felt more discretion? How could you close the gap?
CA: Not to speak for Margaret as well, but Margaret and I are of the same mind. this one didn’t feel like character pieces so much as a compromise with dialogue and padding in between. I know this one didn’t feel like a character necessarily what he’s trying to do. He’s more or less there in Micha’s writing.
Many of the “isms” that are all there are are written down. Micha is a playwright, so there are fine details and at the same time enough space between the dialogues to include idiosyncrasies or things that come to mind. that we discovered in the day. Margaret and I would have to do a little bit of a dance with the cinematographer and do the scene within this framework, within the framework of what Zach would set up with these very complex and long takes. For Margaret and I, it was just a play and we tried different things – there was room to try things. That was the goal.
Zach: There were times where it really felt like we were shooting a play just in terms of the number of pages that we covered in some of the settings. In the scene where they have dinner, for example, we reversed the 180, but for each side with the two cameras, we were going through about six and a half pages of script in one take.
MQ: The whole movie was made in 18 days, so I would imagine there are a lot of people in this room who are making movies. It’s a fun movie to watch because it’s in one place. You know, and again, it’s so, they’re so inventive. It’s, you know, it’s great writing and they’re really in the story that you’re attached to and it’s like a really reasonable movie to make.
Q: Talk a bit about being cooped up in one place. Obviously you have to be quite creative with the camera work. There are a couple of those U-turns: what was your thinking behind each move, and what were your thoughts knowing that you were limiting your space, limiting real estate? [you were working in]. However, you wanted to tell a really deep and compelling story.
ZW: I’m trying to think where to start. I guess the general first thought was to make sure it doesn’t repeat itself visually. You’re going to be in this 12 square foot suite with a basketball hoop in the movie. You don’t want to repeat the lock and you don’t want to repeat the settings. As a director, you want it to feel like you’re traveling somewhere visually. If you have shots in the movie, all the shots at the beginning of the movie, you’re not going anywhere.
You have to travel somewhere, right? Make sure it always feels like there are constantly new images. The way the images change throughout the film has to follow the way the story and the characters are changing emotionally, in terms of pacing and psychologically. You are always at the service of the script and the characters. You never want to be alone doing your thing. It’s a support part, a support job. That is the overall mission.
Q: Sorry, there were more parts to the question.
ZW: Oh yeah, specifics? Obviously, you are working in a very limited space, so you have to be quite dynamic with the camera when you go anywhere. Of course, you have to choose your moments for it. You certainly can’t do those things all the time, but sometimes, a lot of them are intuitive. But there are certain moments, there’s a shot where it’s a close-up of Chris, and then he reverses and crosses the room and pushes Margaret and then he reverses again. That’s about power. Who has the power in this scene? Whose world is turning upside down? Who is perfectly cool? He can demonstrate these things visually. That’s what I took from the minute. So it’s fantastic, they’re all fantastic.
Q: This question is more about the idea of fantasy and how these people find a rhythm in the bubble of this fantasy. This is for anyone. Do you think it is possible to connect that way? Basically, when they get out of the elevator, do you think they can take it with them? They find a connection through fantasy. It’s not really any different from writing a character.
ZW: No, that’s not what I meant. She was imagining “The Office,” she was imagining Pam and Jim. I think there are all kinds of different interfaces, whether it’s the Internet or different, then you leave the bubble. Sometimes the way girls in relationships are always challenged by not being encouraged. I think the last scene particularly points to what happens after the movie ends.
Check out more of Nobuhiro’s articles.
Here is the trailer for the movie..