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Normal People has been adapted from Sally Rooney’s best-selling novel of the same name. The series charts the romance between Marianne Sheridan (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell Waldron (Paul Mescal) as they progress from the last year of secondary school to university. Over this time, their relationship is a rollercoaster as they break things off before coming back together.
Why wasn’t Normal People filmed chronologically?
Over the course of Normal People, central characters Marianne and Connell go through many changes.
The series starts with the pair as teenagers in the last year of high school with Connell in the popular group while Marianne is something of an outsider.
They keep their sexual relationship a secret with Connell breaking Marianne’s heart by choosing not to take her to the Debs, their final year prom.
However, there’s a shift when they attend Trinity College in Dublin together as university students.
Suddenly, Marianne becomes the popular one as Connell withdraws into himself, feeling awkward in this new environment.
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They continue to grow and their relationship changes throughout the story.
The one constant is their love for each other which ultimately sees them come back together time and again.
Interestingly, this intense love story wasn’t actually filmed in the order viewers watch it.
The stars of the show have opened up about how the scenes were filmed.
Speaking to media including Express.co.uk during a virtual BAFTA Q&A, they revealed all.
Director Lenny Abrahamson said there were “key scenes” which the two stars spent time on, explaining: “They became touchstones for the things that would occur, the central patterns in the relationship. You would tie those down.”
He continued: “It’s amazing how much work you have to do. With the novel, it hits you like a complete thing but as soon as you start to break it down into the process of adaptation, it feels like you have to assemble it all again, learn it from every possible angle.
“The guys have to be able to jump from one stage early in the story to three episodes later maybe across the same day. Being able to do that, you just need to know it so well at an interior level, where you don’t have to think too hard but you can step into those different phases.”
The show was directed by both Abrahamson and Hettie Macdonald in two blocks with each filming half the series.
The filming order was decided upon by the locations. For instance, all the scenes in Marianne’s house shot in one go before moving to another location.
Abrahamson said: “It’s a testament to Daisy and Paul, if you think about how much they change.”
He added: “It’s pretty amazing how they can track those phases so accurately.”
Actress Edgar-Jones said hailed the hair, make-up and costume team for helping her get into the right mindset when filming across the different periods in Marianne’s life.
She said: “You know for me physically, the clothes that you wear and the way you style yourself really make you feel different. I remember the first time wearing the school uniform and feeling very young, that really helped.
“Also, having Lenny and Hettie to guide us was really useful. We felt with Lenny, we’d always discuss the scenes and ground ourselves and check in before we were about to lift off.
“Also, having the book. It was so amazing having your character in-depth, the way your character is feeling with each scene. What I loved was the fact that there is not much dialogue. It’s very sparse, so you’re allowed […] to think the things and feel the feelings and Lenny would capture it and that’s very freeing as an actor because you don’t have to forcefully project something. You can just imagine it and think it.”
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Most TV shows and films aren’t shot in the order they are shown in.
Usually, the sequences scenes are filmed in is likely to be dependent on the availability of the locations and the cast members.
This often means the actors have to get into the right mind frame of their character for a particular character.
Also, an actor will have to carefully look at their character’s arc in the overall story when filming different scenes.
This is all the more challenging given most film and television productions are recorded in a completely different order, which can mean the ending may be one of the first things to be shot and vice-versa.
Once all of the filming has taken place, it will be down to those in the editing room to put the whole thing together and choose which takes to use and in which order – although the script is usually a good indicator of the order of a project.
Normal People airs on BBC One on Mondays at 9pm and season 1 is streaming on BBC iPlayer now
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