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Soderbergh told me recently that a lot of the show’s simplicity is driven by time and budget constraints. They’re working on a tight schedule and have to shoot a lot of script pages every day, so they don’t have the luxury of shooting things five different ways and deciding later which one they like the best. The use of compact, high-definition, light-sensitive digital cameras allows Soderbergh to shoot with one or two visible light sources, often of fairly low wattage, and achieve naturalistic lighting effects that Stanley Kubrick spent a fortune on when shooting the visually similar Barry Lyndon (the first movie with interiors shot entirely by candlelight) on 35mm film 40 years ago. I’m almost reluctant to convey all that information here, though, because it might make it sound as if what Soderbergh is doing is easy. It’s really not. That fusebox scene I mentioned earlier is so complex, in terms of choreography, that a lot of period shows and films would set aside a day to block it, rehearse it, and shoot it. Soderbergh did it in two hours, from start to finish. You can’t work that fast and get such great results unless you’re absorbed in your craft so fully that it has become instinctive, in the way that a painter’s brushstrokes are instinctive, or a great basketball player’s moves are instinctive. At some point, intelligence becomes physical. The eyes and hands are just taking dictation from the subconscious. That, I suspect, is the level at which Soderbergh is operating now, 25 years after the premiere of his first feature, sex, lies, and videotape.

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