Director Brian Duffield Talks ‘No One Will Save You’ and Character-Driven Stories

Brian Duffield wrote, directed, and produced the new sci-fi psychological thriller, No One Will Save You. The movie is officially streaming, exclusively on Hulu, and this interview will contain spoilers.

No One Will Save You introduces Brynn Adams (Kaitlyn Dever), a creative and talented young woman who’s been alienated from her community. Lonely but ever hopeful, Brynn finds solace within the walls of the home where she grew up—until she’s awakened one night by strange noises from decidedly unearthly intruders. What follows is an action-packed face-off between Brynn and a host of extraterrestrial beings who threaten her future while forcing her to deal with her past.

Over Zoom, we spoke about Brynn’s intense journey, his main takeaway from the ending, and character-driven stories. Keep reading for our full conversation!

What do you hope audiences learn from Brynn’s journey throughout the film? I think her personal growth and the paralleling between the invasion as well as her personal life and backstory was very interesting.
Brian Duffield: Good. I think for us, it was about this idea of what feels like these insurmountable problems, tragedies, or obstacles in your life that can sometimes — it doesn’t lead your life to where you might have wanted it, but it can also lead your life into something new, unexpected, and okay. I think Brynn’s character, a lot of it has been, you know, when we meet her, she’s very self-isolated, I mean, I don’t think it would go well for her if she wasn’t isolated, but she’s kind of built this bubble for herself and this kind of fake world. At the end, I’m hesitant to show my hand too much, I guess, but I think really wanting it to feel like by the end of the movie, she’s gotten a lot of the things she’s always wanted, but probably never expected to have, and that it’s not a mirage.

I thought the ending was well done and I’m curious, what elements were important to you while writing and directing it to make sure it the perfect ending for this movie and to wrap up her story?
I think it was about — it always goes back to her character and just thinking, what is it that she really, I guess somewhat on a superficial level, but what is something that would just make her really happy? And it’s really just to have a community. So, it kind of stemmed out of that. She gets her ass kicked in this movie and I just love her, I don’t think audiences would tolerate a bleaker ending for Kaitlyn too, but I think also, it was just I like this idea, without putting too fine a point on it because I do like the idea that people can read their interpretations a bunch of different ways, but I think the main takeaway for me is that Brynn is better off at the end of the movie than she was at the start and I think that’s not where you expect this movie to go at all. I think she’s earned it and has done a lot of work to get to that place both physically but I think also, like you said, there’s quite an emotional journey in there too.

Sam Lothridge

Kaitlyn does such an incredible job with this role and one thing I really enjoy is when a film focuses on one character for the majority and really tells a character-driven story. What do you enjoy most about films like that and did you draw any inspiration from the ones you’ve seen or have any favorites?
Oh, man, I’m gonna have to think about it now. What I love about making it is… I just love Kaitlyn, she’s so great. I’ve been really lucky, on my last movie, there were a ton of actors and I loved all of them, and they were so great and down to work, so it was never like, “Well, I worked with so many, and now I should only work with one.” Then on this one, because it was just her, I don’t know, it felt really fun. It’s funny, every now and again, another actor would pop in kind of thing and we were always a little thrown because it might have been like two, three weeks of just her, and then all of a sudden there’s another person and it felt so bizarre. But I think, as a director and storyteller, having a partner that is, you know, Kaitlyn is also a producer on the movie and is so involved in prep and post, and the whole process and so, just having this partner from a behind-the-scenes level is so cool and awesome because it can be quite a lonely experience sometimes.

Then on-screen, it really gives you that sense you’re kind of holding that one person’s hand throughout the movie, and you’re learning what they’re learning and we’re never really that far ahead of Kaitlyn or that far behind Kaitlyn. I think it gives you that sense of like, “Oh, I’m in it with them.” Now, I’m trying to think of one-person movies that I like because there’s a bunch that I don’t and those are the only ones I’m thinking of. I mean, Gravity is incredible and I think Gravity, obviously, isn’t all one person but I mean, I think seeing that in theaters, you feel like you’re holding Sandra Bullock’s hand. That whole movie, it feels like you’re in it together and that’s such an exciting feeling of you’re not bopping around to Mission Control, and just kind of being in it with that character and never really leaving that character’s side. I think there’s something just really fun and cinematic about that. Also, I keep thinking about Secret Honor, Altman’s Nixon movie, but that’s very different. I think that movie is great too, but yeah, I think, Gravity will be my — it’s not quite one person but it’s pretty, pretty close. Clooney doesn’t last long.