Barry’s cinematographer Carl Herse on creating that wild chase sequence in last night’s episode [Interview]

Space and distance create such suspense during the chase.

Yeah, absolutely. That’s something I think Bill, he really doesn’t want to make it romantic or make it too cool. Barry, he has all these skills as an ex-military person, but he’s also just a guy. And so when he rides a motorcycle, we don’t have to pass him off as a superhero, he’s just on a motorcycle. Now it splits the lanes. And just separating the lanes is dynamic enough for our world to be interesting. I think another thing our show likes to do is show that these characters inhabit their world and there’s a world around them.

As this season opens, in Episode 2, we see Barry exit into the trunk of his car where Cousineau is, but much of this plays out with a woman in the foreground staring at her laptop. If she looked to her left, she would see this ridiculous situation happening, but they’re still just outside the periphery of the real world. In episode 2 there is also a scene with the woman on the phone talking about a bad date she had and suddenly there is a group of Bolivian mercenaries crossing in front of her.

In this chase sequence they’ve done some really interesting things with the sound design, where our shot isn’t super dynamic as we part ways, but you hear every car’s radio go by as it drive through traffic. I think it’s a very interesting way of keeping the stakes relatively high, but it also gives the show that quirky quirkiness that I think makes it very unique.

There are so many moving parts in the hunt. Where does your work start there?

Well, it starts with all of us sitting around a big table and discussing what’s important in the story and what we’re trying to tell. Bill voices shots that are in his head and we work with a pre-visualization animation studio that basically creates an animation of the entire sequence. I remember the first time we all sat together and watched the final approved version — because there are several versions — but we have the producers, the [assistant director]myself, the production designer, and we watched this animated version of the chase.

It’s so interesting and weirdly quiet and calm in a way that makes the last beat of the guy crashing at the end so funny, the whole room erupted in laughter. And it was just in an animation – it wasn’t even our version. But knowing that the streak works so well at this point, everyone feels confident to do it.

It feels overwhelming when you watch it in real time, but once you start breaking down the shots it becomes manageable. We were really lucky to have an amazing producer, Aida Rogers, who was able to provide what we needed to get the job done. We brought together some of the best people in the business to film the work of the bike, which is extremely complicated, especially on a highway.

It was mostly AD and I would sit with storyboards and just basically look at the position of the sun and come up with a plan for the order in which we can shoot depending on the equipment that we use, where I want the sun to be, what are the limitations of using pyrotechnics like gunfire and stunts like crashing motorcycles or crashing cars.

You have just broken it down into elements. During the day, it moves relatively quickly. I mean, a film set is always slower than you think, but every day was doable in the schedule. Bill is so good at shooting exactly what he needs and he shoots nothing but that. Interestingly, he doesn’t offer himself too many get out of jail cards in case something doesn’t work, but strangely it always seemed to work.