Summer 2017

Jeffrey Reiner

A director juggles multiple perspectives in The Affair with filmmaking acumen


(Photo: Phil Caruso/Showtime)

As one character puts it in the third season of The Affair, "We all live in our own version of the truth." And so it is in the Showtime drama, which unfolds in Rashomon-like fashion as it chronicles the repercussions of the infidelity at its core from the individual perspectives of the main characters involved.

"On this show you're singularly invested in [one] person's view, from an intellectual, emotional and sensorial perspective," says Jeffrey Reiner, a director-producer on the series who has directed more than a dozen episodes since its rollout in 2014.

Reiner says the use of color, wardrobe, production design, camera lenses and framing help differentiate the various POVs.

"One person can walk into a room and see it as elegant, and another person can see it as tawdry," explains Reiner. "One person can see it as colorful and another can see it as monochromatic."

Reiner says the color element can come from both set dressing and the use of DI in post.

Camera placement is also very specific. "Very rarely do you see a third eye or a fly-on-the-wall perspective on our show," he says. "We shoot with one camera most of the time. We walk in the room with [the character]. We're never in the room before they are."

"If it's Noah's world," Reiner adds, referring to the show's tortured protagonist, "we're very rarely over the shoulder of the other person; we're over the shoulder of Noah." In this perspective, the director might use a 40mm on Noah's face, and a wider angle 65mm on the person he's addressing.

In a show where reality is always subjective, how does one distinguish between truth and embellishment?

"In the three years of this series, I've really started to believe in the subjectiveness of things and not care about objectivity that much," says Reiner. "As long as you understand a specific point of view, I'm not sure there is that ultimate truth."

Problem Solving

Directors discuss overcoming challenges and, in effect, making lemons into lemonade when circumstances are less than ideal.

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