Follow Her Director and Cast Unpack the Thriller’s Wildly Intimate Scenes

Jun 1, 2023

There’s nothing like having somebody shove a foot in your mouth for a sensual scene on the first day of filming a sexually charged thriller. Follow along, because Follow Her has fascinating behind-the-scenes fodder.

“The first day we [co-star/writer Dani Barker] came on to set, we had to shoot the sexual scene first,” admitted Luke Cook (Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, Dynasty), who plays Tom in the film, an attractive and mysterious man who hires financially strapped livestreamer Jess (Barker) to help him finish writing a screenplay. “Dani puts her foot in my mouth, and we — Dani and I — had just met in real life, so that was incredibly intense for me. For some reason, and I’m not a prude, I was like, ‘I’m not ready for this. I don’t want to do this now. I want to get to know Dani a little bit, and maybe we can ease into that later.’”

No coffee and chat here, but maybe diving into the intense scenes first added something richer for the actors to explore. “Sometimes filming those kinds of scenes first happens [with scheduling],” noted Cook, who’s set to appear in season three of Hacks, after the WGA writers’ strike. “So, we shot that, and it was very intimate, very quickly. I’ve heard about directors doing that. It’s a technique used to get their actors as close to each other right off the bat. And it worked.” Dani Barker, Luke Cook, and director Sylvia Caminer shared more about the thriller with MovieWeb.

A Story Plucked from Real Life

Follow Her has garnered plenty attention thus far. The compelling indie film won six audience awards, five Best Film awards, and more than a dozen other awards on the film festival circuit. The story tracks Jess, a livestreamer who uses the kinks of others to generate her own streaming success. Ah, modern times. Jess’ livelihood plummets after a livestream fallout. After answering an online job post, she’s hired by Tom to pen the ending of a screenplay in a remote cabin. Then the seductive “screenwriter” hands her a script in which the two of them are the main characters. What follows is a psycho-sexual thriller that illuminates the tricky ethical boundaries of social media.

The new film was inspired by writer/star Barker’s own real-life experiences taking the oddest online Craigslist jobs and filming them with hidden cameras. Initially, Barker wanted to write something between two characters in one location, something she could “make for cheap.” She wanted to have her character Jess suddenly trapped in a house with only one option out: keeping her “character” in Tom’s story alive.

“It always surprises me how scared people can get when watching it, basically the horror element of it,” said Barker. “And there’s some there are some nuggets planted in the movie that not everyone sees. I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s some Hitchcockian things throughout that if you’re not watching carefully, you will miss it. All that, for me, were the most chilling moments.”

As for the film being plucked from segments of her own real-life experiences, Barker noted: “I was always careful to go meet people in public places [in the online show], but we modernized the story here, because livestreaming was something I hadn’t really ever dabbled in. I thought it raises the stakes even more.

“The character of Jess was a weird mix between old parts of me, and the bravery of her that I had kind of lost in myself,” she added. “So, my prep was around finding that and refining that bravery, because I’d stepped out of the industry for a couple of years. And coming back having that courage again, but also bringing these old naive parts of myself into it. It was an interesting balance of that.”

Luke Cook on Those Steamy Scenes and More

Quiver Distribution

The sexual chemistry between Luke Cook and Dani Barker is visceral in Follow Her. The actors turn in a stellar performance. Cook said he couldn’t wait to take on the role after reading Barker’s script. “I thought that no one else could play this role,” he beamed. “I mean, of course other people could play the role. It’s such a stupid thing to say, but I just thought, ‘Well, I can crush this, and I have to audition for it. I was like, ‘How is everyone else going to audition for it? How what are they going to do? I will do it better. Because I can play this guy.’”

He said he also appreciated how multifaceted Tom was. “He’s such an enigma the entire time. You’re wondering, ‘Wait… who’s this guy? What does he want? What’s he doing?’ He’s a chameleon.’ You just don’t know what he’s going to do or how he’s going to change at any moment. And I love that facet of him.”

Related: The 12 Most Underrated Psychological Thrillers Ever Made

Audiences will appreciate it too. Tom is complex if not dangerously seductive. Having come off of Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, a dark show in and of itself, we asked Cook if it was challenging to play such a shady role.

“For me, it’s not so much about drama or comedy being challenging,” said Cook. “What I find challenging is subtlety. I like characters that are bold, like me. I don’t like not acting. I can’t really stand watching movies when people don’t do anything. I like to act and to move, so what I find more challenging is when I have to do nothing. That’s something that I have to work on all the time. But this role was bold and active. What was challenging was the nuance of the moments that we had to figure out. That was the challenge, not so much the character.”

The Director’s Vision for the Film

Quiver Distribution

Follow Her is Sylvia Caminer’s first directorial feature. When she first read the script back in 2017, she had recently bounced back from a life-threatening illness and was eager to take on a new project. She’d been a longtime fan of genre films, and Barker’s script captured the thriller niche so wonderfully. She felt she could add something to Barker’s exploration of the obsession many people have with internet fame and the lengths to which they will go to achieve it.

“I also love flawed characters. I don’t like anyone to perfect because it’s just not realistic,” said Caminer. “I love that the character of Jess was very conflicted. Her morals were very questionable, and she is driven by a need for fame, which is an issue especially for young people growing up on social media. I saw such great potential, especially the relationship between the protagonist and the antagonist, which was really great.”

Related: Most Awkward Love Scenes of All Time, Ranked

Caminer and Barker engaged in very open conversations about how to bring the film to life. “We both kind of had to jump off the cliff with each other because it was my first time directing a narrative feature and her first time, not only as a writer, but as a lead actress. The film doesn’t work if you don’t have that lead actor who brings in the performance or their life. It was like that with both Dani and Luke.”

The duo spent about 10 months workshopping the script, then brought in the livestream component so it would feel very current. “I think the film is very timely,” said Caminer. “And from the moment Dani and I spoke, right away, we just said, ‘Okay, we’re doing it.’ And we never looked back.”

Follow Her, from Quiver Distribution, opens Friday, June 2 in select theaters and VOD.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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