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BEHIND THE SCENES WITH JANE CAMPION a film by PRISCA BOUCHET & NICK MAYOW. 2022. New Zealand. 17 min. Against sweeping landscapes, a focused look at the New Zealand auteur’s Oscar-winning The Power of the Dog.

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In the opening sequence of Behind the Scenes with Jane Campion, we see a series of storyboard sketches alongside the cover of the novel that informed The Power of the Dog, the spell-binding revisionist western that marked Campion’s return to filmmaking after a twelve-year hiatus. Looking beyond the official start of production and foregrounding the sparks of inspiration, Prisca Bouchet and Nick Mayow track how Thomas Savage’s The Power of the Dog first haunted and then overtook Campion during a process of filming that earned her an Academy Award for Best Director.

 

Bouchet and Mayow present the making of The Power of the Dog in static, unhurried shots, offering a moment-to-moment account of how Otago, New Zealand was transformed into 1920’s Montana. “It was our first time on a drama set, and coming from a documentary background we approached the topic as any other,” recounts Bouchet. Their patient documentation not only sees Benedict Cumberbatch getting comfortable in his wooly chaps and Kirsten Dunst rehearsing a waltz with Jesse Plemmons, but also Campion unrooting her own fascination with the source material through a series of dreamwork sessions.

 

 

 

“We felt a formal observational style served the subject well, presenting the often chaotic and heightened world of set in a calm, distanced manner. We chose to feature Jane as our sole interviewee, as the ‘author’ of the work, and to focus more on artistic practice and vision, with Jane as our guide to the heart of the project .” PRISCA BOUCHET & NICK MAYOW

 

Narrated by Campion herself, the documentary reveals The Power of the Dog is anchored in the filmmaker’s choice themes, chiefly frustrating family dynamics as seen in early works like Peel (1986) and Sweetie (1989), but also her Palme d’Or-winning The Piano (1993). Bouchet and Mayow’s focused approach matches Campion’s own concentrated demeanor on set, detailing her ability to translate dreams into reality by sculpting complex characters from sustained emotional thinking and attentive filming.

 

Prisca Bouchet and Nick Mayow are both rising documentary filmmakers from New Zealand. Their first collaboration, Le Taxidermiste, received a Special Jury Mention at Doc NYC 2014 for its intimate reappraisal of the oft misunderstood craft its subject tends to. They have since pointed their cameras at a South Auckland funeral home, the threat of extinction facing their nation’s treasured kauri trees, and a man’s lifelong obsession with egg cups. Always inquisitive, their films explore cultural niches with hope of opening them to new understandings. They are currently attending Jane Campion’s Aotearoa Pop Up Film Intensive A Wave in the Ocean and filming their first short drama School Night.

 

Text written by Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer. You can watch The Power of the Dog on Netflix.

Credits for
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH JANE CAMPION
executive produced by
Jane Campion & Tanya Seghatchian
cinematography
Prisca Bouchet
editing
Nick Mayow
music
Jonny Greenwood
sound
Nich Cunningham