British director Harry Bradbeer is always on the hunt for the truth when working with actors. “There’s something about capturing life in real time that has always been the foundation of my career in the veracity of performance,” he told A.frame.
Bradbeer has made a name for himself in television, including directing the entire Amazon Prime Season 2. Flea bag, for which he won a Primetime Emmy for Best Director and another for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2019. The series was known for Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) staring directly into the camera to comment on the action in progress. But, as audiences learned, the character wasn’t always honest.
“This passage to the camera is not necessarily always a look of direct confidence or information,” he explains. “It can give a moment of fear or remind people that everything will be fine, even [if] they look scared… In the case of Flea bag, she often struggles to be honest with us. She has so much to hide. So most of the time when she says, “That’s fine.” It is anything but. Or sometimes she’ll be completely provocative and then give us a little sideways glance to show another side of the picture.”
The director uses this tool again for his first two feature films, Enola Holmes and its sequel, Enola Holmes 2. At a time, Millie Bobby Brown stars as Enola, the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes, who, much like Fleabag, often turns to the camera to comment on the situation she finds herself in. And Bradbeer admits he was hesitant to repeat the technique, but found support for the idea.
“It is a very flexible and useful tool, [but] the idea that the next movie would involve breaking the fourth wall filled me with a certain horror at first. I thought, ‘Oh my God, what is Phoebe going to say?’ Because it hadn’t been in my idea; it was written in the script. And I was mixing Flea bag shortly after the script [for Enola Holmes] happened, and I said to Phoebe, ‘So, I have this script and it’s about Sherlock Holmes. Well, she’s looking at the camera… She’s talking to the audience. And she said, ‘Oh what, like Shakespeare?’ She was like, everybody’s been doing it, we’ve been doing it for years.”
Below, Bradbeer shares five films with A.frame that inspire him as a filmmaker and help him connect with his optimistic side, including a film that inspired elements of Enola Holmes 2.