Lana Wachowski’s ‘Matrix 4’ Directing Style: ‘Filming on the Fly,’ Using Natural Light, and More

Filming on “The Matrix 4” is complete, and according to Neil Patrick Harris it was unlike other Hollywood action tentpoles of its kind. In an interview with Variety, the actor detailed Lana Wachowski’s unconventional filmmaking approach to a major studio production. As Harris explained, “It didn’t feel large because it felt like she was in her sweet spot, which was filming on the fly, filming using natural light. Sometimes you’d sit around for an hour waiting for the clouds to clear, and then you’d quickly film.”

What Harris is describing sounds more like the production of “1917 or “The Revenant” and less like a studio franchise film. The actor continued, “You’d film pages at a time in 30 minutes and then be done. You would think that a giant movie would be 100% storyboarded, animatics, and we’d be checking off shots. I think she lived that before three times over, and I would suspect that she wants to do things her own way now. It wasn’t often that you felt that you were doing something gigantic because she made it feel very intimate.”

More from IndieWire

Last April while “The Matrix 4” production was on pause because of the pandemic, stunt coordinator Chad Stahelski revealed Wachowski was also breaking from typical Hollywood productions by directing all the action scenes herself and not relying on second unit directing teams.

“What makes [Lana] so great is she directs her own action,” Stahelski told Collider. “We’ve had second unit directors on some of the [‘Matrix’ films] just because of the logistics involved. But of late, and especially on ‘Matrix 4,’ she’s directing her own action. The second units for them are mostly establishing shots, the B-sides of some of the compositions for some locations. But Lana, she does her own action. She weaves it into the main unit stuff, which is why their stuff looks so good.”

Stahelski described “The Matrix 4” as “incredibly fun,” adding, “I think if you’re a fan of the original trilogy you’re gonna love this. It’s coming back with a vengeance.”

In addition to Harris, “The Matrix 4” cast includes Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Lambert Wilson, and Daniel Bernhardt. Warner Bros. is scheduled to release the film in theaters and on HBO Max starting December 22.

Best of IndieWire

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.