(also found on IMDb trivia)
This is the second installment in Adrian Tofei‘s planned indie trilogy which includes Be My Cat: A Film for Anne and Pure. All three movies are radically different from each other, yet together they form a cohesive universe. Be My Cat was anchored in irrational instincts and impulses, We Put the World to Sleep is anchored in the rational mind, and Pure will be anchored in mysteries beyond reason.
The movie was shot over a period of 5 years (7 years with pre & post-production) in 13 cities, villages and remote locations across Romania, Turkey and Ukraine, using a diverse international cast. It’s by far the most ambitious, difficult and disturbing project Adrian Țofei and Duru Yücel ever did, facing numerous challenges over the years and taking a toll on their personal lives as well due to the extensive periods of living in character (ironically, the movie deals with exactly this issue).
Adrian Țofei‘s first inspiration for We Put the World to Sleep came in 2015 when he watched a documentary about serial killer Anatoly Onoprienko. While on a killing spree, Onoprienko also killed a little baby after killing the parents. When asked by authorities why he did it, he said he didn’t want the child to grow up without parents, suffering and being abused in orphanages the way it happened to him. This explanation inspired the movie’s concept: ending the world not to cause pain, but to save humans and animals from future suffering.
Adrian Țofei‘s ambitious goal for We Put the World to Sleep was to combine the metaphysics of 2001: A Space Odyssey with the realism of The Blair Witch Project, two of the movies that impressed and influenced him the most as a filmmaker.
During the 7 years of production, Adrian Țofei and Duru Yücel lived partially in character and held world views slightly similar to those of their characters. Adrian Țofei does not remember exactly how much his personal views preceded the character and inspired it, or vice-versa, living in character influenced his personal views. One could argue that Adrian and Duru got lost in their roles in the same way that their characters in the movie get lost in their roles.
The script mostly consisted of plot points. After creating and maintaining an alternative psychological reality for their characters, Adrian Țofei and Duru Yücel shot about 150 hours of footage improvising guerrilla style, then Adrian came up with the details of the story in post-production while editing.
The most frustrating moments during production happened when the improvisation either went in a direction where Adrian Țofei and Duru Yücel no longer felt the need to record while in character, or went in directions which weren’t doable due to budget limitations. Those directions were truthful to the story and character development, weren’t errors per se, but impossible to apply in practice, so Adrian and Duru had to break character for weeks or even months, put the entire production on hold and find new directions to move forward.
Antoine Le’s movie Followed inspired Adrian Țofei to watch the documentary Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, which in turn inspired chapter 2 of We Put the World to Sleep.
The scene featuring American actress Erisse Peterson was actually her audition tape for the movie.
[SPOILER] Adrian Țofei said that chapter 2 is the creepiest and darkest thing he ever did, and is determined to never do anything like that again, as it affected him personally during production and needed psychological and spiritual help afterwards. Adrian slept for days in the room filled with posters of executed serial killer and devil worshiper Richard Ramirez (The Night Stalker), living in character to the point of feeling as if he’s in an intimate relationship with the demonic soul of Ramirez, as the story required.