Grammy-winning singer Billie Eilish is such a fervent fan of “The Office” that she has watched the series in full at least 14 times by her own estimation. “Every time I watch it, I understand something new, because I started at [age] 12,” she said last year to stars Steve Carell and Brian Baumgartner, the latter of whom hosts a podcast dedicated to the former NBC comedy. “And I honestly, if you asked my parents, most of the things that — this makes me sound so stupid — but most of the things that I know are because of ‘The Office.’”
So when it came time for director R.J. Cutler and cinematographer Jenna Rosher to film what would become the documentary “Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry,” it should be no surprise that one of Eilish’s visual touchstones for the project was the mockumentary show.
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“My tendency is to creep back in the corner and be a little more long lens, voyeuristic,” says Rosher during the Gold Derby Meet the BTL Experts: Cinematographers panel. “The feedback right away from her — and this is very much the feedback of an artist, of a visionary like herself — was, ‘I want Jenna closer to me.’”
As Rosher explains, the reason behind Eilish’s request was “The Office,” where characters often interacted with the faux-documentarians on the series.
“The breaking-of-the-fourth-wall was a little scary but it really served the film and it served her because I think for her it was ultimately a way to connect with her fans, her audience,” Rosher reveals. “She wanted very much to feel there was a participation of it that it wasn’t merely her being observed. We were okay with that.”
Cutler and Rosher began filming Eilish in 2018, before the release of her breakout debut album and the massive success that would soon come for the teenager. As a result, “Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry” acts as not just a music documentary, but a coming-of-age story about a young woman and her family. Case in point, a scene in the middle of the film where Eilish gets her driver’s license and drives away alone for the first time, leaving her father behind.
“There were no interviews with anyone, it was more just hanging out. Her dad, who was this incredibly amazing poetic philosophical human just had a moment where he started telling us what was going on with him,” Rosher recalls of the moment, where Eilish’s dad expresses conflicted feelings about watching his daughter grow up. “We unified and connected with this loss that was happening for him at that moment. … It was heartbreaking. More than anything, aside from knowing we got a really great moment, I felt for them as people in such a big way. I also couldn’t help but wonder what it was going to be like for me one day when I was going to say goodbye to one of my daughters. It was profound. It was indeed a memorable day for all of us.”
Watch the exclusive video interview with Rosher above. “Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry” is now streaming on Apple TV+.
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