Picture: Courtesy Of Netflix

Moments of creative inspiration will be notoriously tough to depict onscreen, particularly since they are typically preceded by numerous what appears, externally, like doing nothing. In Lin-Manuel Miranda’s movie adaptation of Tick, Tick … Increase!, Andrew Garfield’s Jonathan Larson spends a lot of the film unable to jot down what he is aware of would be the key music for his upcoming present, an act-two solo for its feminine lead. With the deadline approaching, he cycles by means of each type of procrastination, will get right into a struggle along with his girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp), finds the facility at his condo shut off, after which, lastly, resorts to swimming laps at his native indoor pool. There, in a sequence set to the music “Swimming,” a music from early variations of the musical minimize throughout its growth, inspiration strikes when he’s in the midst of the pool. He appears down and sees the music written throughout the tiling under him. Cinematographer Alice Brooks, who additionally labored with Miranda on Within the Heights (which has its personal huge pool-centric quantity), walked us by means of how the essential second got here along with the assistance of an animatic she drafted in the course of the movie’s growth course of.

Preproduction and site scouting

Miranda and screenwriter Steven Levenson had already arrived on the concept of utilizing “Swimming” to get the character of Larson to his eureka second when Brooks began working with them however hadn’t but crammed out the specifics, just like the notes’ sudden look on the backside of the pool. “It was a process of discovery and collaboration among everyone,” Brooks stated. Miranda “had us prep in the same way he would workshop a show, where we didn’t have to know all the answers right away.”

A few of these solutions got here by means of the method of looking for the fitting indoor swimming pool. After a citywide search, the movie crew settled on the pool on the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center within the West Village. “The pool had these ancient patina tiles that you only have in New York,” Brooks stated. “And we started noticing things, like the striped lines at the bottom of the pool, Lin thought they looked like musical staff paper.” Later, they realized that the tiles’ inexperienced and pink colours matched the inexperienced and pink talked about in Larson’s music — as a result of this was really the pool he used to work out.

Once they went over the footage that Brooks filmed on the pool, in addition they seen the 30-foot marker “perfectly positioned almost in the center.” “Lin kept looking at the 30 and then said, ‘What if Jonathan touches the 30, the number he’s so scared of turning, and it turns into a treble clef?’” Brooks stated. “And that was ‘Swimming.’”


After that stroke of inspiration, Brooks, Miranda, Levenson, manufacturing designer Alex DiGerlando, and assistant director Mariela Comitini labored along with storyboard artist Grant Shaffer to draft concepts for the way precisely to movie every sequence. After that they had a tough concept of which photographs they could use for the quantity, Brooks minimize the storyboards collectively into animatics (you may watch one for “Swimming” above) based mostly on the prerecorded model of the tracks that they had. “They made me learn so much about making sure all our transitions were planned, especially how we were getting in and out of the musical numbers,” Brooks stated.

On the pool

Quickly after Tick, Tick … Increase! went into manufacturing in early 2020, the COVID pandemic hit New York and filming shut down. By the point they returned to the “Swimming” scene eight months later, scaffolding had gone up across the pool, which meant redoing their lighting plan and determining finest match the cameras contained in the constructing. They ended up spending three days putting in a platform on high of which they may movie their crane photographs (which additionally went underwater), then moved on to filming within the locker room, scrapped the platform, and had their divers are available in to function the cameras underwater, hooking right into a rigging system to maintain up with the tempo of Garfield swimming.

Within the course of of creating the scene, Garfield swam forwards and backwards for 3 days. His father occurs to be a swim coach, “so Andrew is an amazing swimmer,” Brooks stated. “It was very impressive, to be able to take off your goggles and keep your eyes open for that long underwater and act at the same time.” Garfield himself had the concept to mouth a few of the traces from the music underwater, which they filmed with the assistance of an underwater speaker to sync up the timing. They solely used a physique double for a few photographs, rigging them up with a GoPro to seize footage of the character’s arms transferring.

Placing it collectively

Earlier than filming, Brooks wrote out all of the photographs they wanted to get on a spreadsheet alongside the timecodes they’d occupy and the lyrics that might go together with them. “It was very specific for each shot because everything cuts so quickly,” Brooks stated. “It’s the moment of highest anxiety for him, and so everything is pretty claustrophobic until he’s finally under the water, and then he’s finally able to expand. The tightness of the shots and the rhythm of the cutting is to build that tension.”

When that realization hits, the visible results kick in, with Larson wiping away the 30 to disclose a treble clef. The notes of his music “Come to Your Senses” seem on the tiles in entrance of him and the lyrics behind him. The notes and the 30-to-clef transformation have been a part of the unique concept for the sequence, and Brooks labored with the film’s visual-effects crew on pre-visualizations to ensure she included sufficient area for the notation in her photographs and to “know how much time Andrew was going to need to stay underwater” because the music unfurled. As soon as Larson’s inspiration strikes, the movie in the reduction of to a shot that encompasses the entire pool, the place we are able to see how the tiling resembles workers paper (that was a composite shot of three sections of the pool provided that it was unattainable to get excessive sufficient to shoot all of it indoors).

Within the modifying course of, Miranda additionally had handwritten lyrics seem behind Garfield throughout Larson’s epiphany, concluding a recurring visible motif in different components of the movie. “I like that because some people can read music and other people can’t,” Brooks stated, “And there’re two parts to a song, music and lyric, so it was a beautiful addition to add the lyrics.”


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