‘Widows’ Producer Iain Canning Discusses the Origins of the Long Car Tracking Shot

Widows features one of the great all-time tracking shots: Colin Farrell’s suave politician, Jack Mulligan, enters his car from a rally—but instead of immediately cutting inside, the camera stays on the exterior of the limo as it travels from a derelict urban neighborhood to—in less than five minutes—a gentrified, posh suburb (where Mulligan lives). In this one, single take—filmmaker Steve McQueen highlights the disparity between the Chicago communities, between the ‘one’ vs. ‘ninety-nine’ percent, between black and white. And yet despite these stark differences – all that really separates the classes is, well, just a five-minute car ride.

This shot reveals Widows true intent—far more than just a heist film, but a deeper exploration into the socio and political machinations that create ‘class’ and then thrive on their bitter divide. As the self-titled ‘Widows’ (Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo) form to plan a heist, it becomes more than just getting one over and getting away with the loot. It becomes a symbol for how those from all different backgrounds, class, and race can come together in the face of ingrained division, proof that a corruptible system can be toppled with compassion and sisterhood.

In the following interview with Widows producer Iain Canning, he discusses the origins of the limo one-shot, getting the rights for the original British series, Widows, and the difficulties (or lack thereof) in getting financing for the film version. For the full interview, watch above. For more on Widows, click here to read Adam Chitwood’s review.

  • What was the process for coming up with limo one-shot?
  • Was it difficult to get the crew and cast on the same page for such an experimental shot?
  • Is there a feeling on set when you know you’re shooting something special?
  • What was the process to get the rights to the British miniseries for the new feature version?
  • How did you decide on teaming Gillian Flynn (writer of Gone Girl, Sharp Objects) with Steve McQueen on the script?
  • Is it difficult to find financing for mid-budget dramas like Widows?