Director Sam Esmail discusses Leave the World Behind

Director Sam Esmail discusses Leave the World Behind

November 19, 2023 DGA Membership Screening Q&As in LA & NY

A family vacation becomes an apocalyptic nightmare in Director Sam Esmail’s psychological thriller, Leave the World Behind.

Esmail’s film tells the story of Amanda and Clay who, rent a luxurious home for the weekend with their kids. Their getaway is upended when two strangers, G.H. and his daughter Ruth, arrive bearing news of a mysterious cyberattack and a looming possible collapse of life as we know it.

On November 12, after the DGA membership screening in Los Angeles, Esmail discussed the making of Leave the World Behind during a Q&A moderated by Director Luke Greenfield (Half Brothers). He also spoke about the film during a Q&A moderated by Director Noah Hawley (Lucy in the Sky) following the DGA membership screening in New York on November 19.

During the Los Angeles conversation, Esmail spoke about the challenges of making a disaster thriller that wouldn’t be predictable.

“Everyone has access to a ton of movies and TV shows. There’s a formula that you’re always fighting against as a filmmaker. And for me, tone is everything. Tone is a way to break that spell. If I’m dropping a Kool & The Gang needle drop in what’s supposed to be an apocalyptic thriller, hopefully it just disarms you and tells you to stop thinking about this in the way that you thought it was going to be. And once you get somebody in that position, where they’re in sort of a freefall, where they’re like, ‘I don’t understand. I don’t know what’s about to happen.’ As a filmmaker, that’s the best thing you can do. And that’s the best gift you can give an audience member. Because what you want is for them not to know what’s going to happen next, yet at the same time want desperately to know what’s going to happen next. And that all comes down to tone.”

Esmail’s other directorial credits include the feature film Comet; and episodes of the series Homecoming and Mr. Robot. He has been a DGA member since 2015.


Q&A photos by Shane Karns (Los Angeles) and Marcie Revens (New York) – Print courtesy of Netflix

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