[Editor’s Note: The following article contains spoilers for the end of this season of “The Eddy.”]
For a show that finds a creative and spiritual hub inside the walls of a jazz club, it’s a curious choice to end this season of “The Eddy” outside. Forced out of the building they call home after a series of explosions destroys the interior and chases out unsuspecting patrons, the members of the band that form the backbone of the Netflix series take to the streets of east Paris. Playing the song that gives the show its title, the musicians sing and dance and play instruments makeshift and otherwise for cafe patrons sitting outdoors.
In the words of Glen Ballard, who wrote much of the music for the series, it’s an ending that finds a tiny sense of triumph, even in a time of sadness. Not only is that in line with what powers most of the season’s eight episodes, it’s in line with how Ballard sees the song, too.
“It’s enormously moving because we have the entire band singing this song. It’s this resilient moment,” Ballard told IndieWire on set of the final sequence. “The club has been suffering through all sorts of trauma. To add to their misery, our jazz musicians just keep getting kicked out of the only place where they feel at home. So they’re saying, ‘We are the Eddy. This is the club, even if it’s outside.'”
That feeling of unity and comfort doesn’t just come from the emotional thread of the music. Alan Poul, who directed the finale, wanted to ensure that this season’s farewell performance all happened in one continuous take. The final product eventually cuts between horn players standing on tables and Maja (Joanna Kulig) serenading people in their seats and on benches. It culminates with a shot of Elliot (André Holland), gazing with a look of bittersweet appreciation at what’s still left after a string of recent losses. Making sure that all of that felt seamless and of a piece with each other wasn’t something that could be done in piecemeal pickups. For capturing sound, that wasn’t the easiest of circumstances.
“Everything is live. We had to bring in a very special wireless system, much more powerful than what we normally use,” Poul said. “Initially, they said, ‘Well, you’ll have to do the first half of the song and then we’ll move all our equipment and then do the second half of the song.’ I was like, ‘Uh uh. I can’t do that.'”
Still, the results were a success. In some ways, Poul credits that spirit of camaraderie to the way the entire crew found ways to come together. Much like the members of The Eddy picking each other up in the face of adversity, the behind-the-scenes contingent on the show rose to meet the unusual filming demands.
“French crews are great. American crews are big and sometimes bloated, but they work very efficiently. But there’s a very stark and clear division of labor, partly because of the unions. Here, it’s a much smaller crew and everybody overlaps with everybody,” Poul said. “If something needs to be done, somebody will pitch in and do it. You’ll never hear, ‘No, you can’t move that saucer because that’s set dec[oration].’ There’s a collegiality between the crew that I feel is at a much higher level.”
That feeling of teamwork was key. Damien Chazelle, who directed the first two episodes and helped set the visual language for the series, wanted to ensure that audiences saw the events and performances in “The Eddy” the way the music felt. He and Poul were primarily drawing on a feeling of ’70s cinema, from Hollywood rebels to filmmakers across the world. One particular film stood out as a spiritual starting point.
“All the music is happening somewhere in the frame. The reference that we landed on for our first inspiration was Robert Altman’s ‘Nashville,’ because it also was about a disparate group of oddball people who would never cross paths except for the music,” Poul said. “We decided we needed to be spontaneous, mostly handheld on the ground with the characters. Every take should be different. Let the performers improvise and be different like our jazz musicians do and shoot every take differently and trust that the editors will find ways to put it together.”
Like any scene filmed outdoors, there were other technical challenges aside from the music. Situated in a neighborhood on the eastern side of Paris, the odd motorist would pass, even as filming went late into the night on a quiet Monday evening. Before the cameras rolled, children played on a nearby carousel. Hundreds of extras slowly made their way into an area, transforming the street into an evening hotspot lit by not just the moon but the myriad overhead lights strung specifically for the occasion. The fake wine and beer flowed freely during and in between takes.
“There is a kind of new jazz scene in Paris happening in those kind of areas, which are mainly north and east of Paris. You have three or four new jazz clubs which have opened, with young people coming in, having beer, drinking in a very open way. Something told us, ‘OK, this is the right area for the story we want to tell,” producer Olivier Bibas said. “We are not on the Champs-Élysées. Mainly, we want to be very organic to what Paris is today.”
This final melody almost has more impact because it isn’t out of nowhere. From the first episode onward, “The Eddy” pops up throughout the series as a kind of jazzy refrain. Never quite fully joyous, but not without some sort of understanding that there’s a tiny bit of hope in there somewhere.
“It encapsulates the entire idea of what this club is supposed to be,” Ballard said. “We’ve heard this song throughout the series. Lyrically and musically, it’s sort of this indigo song. The chords are rich and deep. It’s minor nines and major sevens, and it’s this very noir-feeling song. But really, the whole idea is it’s talking about this place, The Eddy, which is is both a real club and this place in your mind where you find peace.”
“The Eddy” is streaming now on Netflix.