Oscar-nominated cinematographer Matthew Libatique knew the Thanksgiving scene in “Maestro” was going to be one of the most emotional moments in the film.

In the scene, Leonard Bernstein (Bradley Cooper) and his wife Felicia (Carey Mulligan) have an intense argument, and Libatique compared capturing it on film “to shooting a love scene — you want to give the actors as much space to work as possible.” Leading up to the argument, Bernstein returns home on Thanksgiving morning after being out all night. By this point, Felicia has had enough of his behavior; she has left a pillow, his slippers and his toothbrush outside. He enters their New York apartment and finds a Snoopy casually lying on the floor. Things progress when he follows Felicia into a room, and an argument unfolds. Outside the window, the Thanksgiving Parade floats by.

The pivotal long oner took three takes, with Mulligan being the “secret weapon” to nailing that shot.

“It is the punctuation to a life lived between the two of them and it propels them into the next phase of their life,” Libatique explains while breaking down the scene for Variety’s In the Frame series. “For the first time in the whole movie, we see her absolute frustration and you feel like she can’t take it anymore.”

When it came time to shoot, Libatique approached the scene as normal. He was expecting lots of coverage, and the scene would be pieced together based on performances. Cooper, who also wrote and directed the film, knew what he wanted from the scene — a wide shot with the two characters. In his conception, Felicia was sitting in the chair, and Leonard entered the room and sat down. “It was two people sitting in a wide shot, and it just wasn’t happening,” says Libatique.

On the second take, Mulligan decided to get up from the chair and went over to the window. “The third take, she was at the window at the very beginning of the scene, and that’s what you see in the film,” Libatique says. “It was so intense, and the pacing was so real — they’re cutting each other off and responding to what each other’s saying, it felt like there was no dialogue.” He adds: “The tone of it, the emotional aspect of it, and the performances on both ends were fantastic and we were sort of lensing up her side of the coverage and [Cooper] just looked at me and said, ‘How are we going to do that? How are we going to cut in her performance?’ So the single-shot aspect was born out of the greatness of their performance — it wasn’t planned.”

Libatique shot using Kodak film and used various cameras including the ARRI Alexa, RED, Sony and ARRI 65. In choosing aspect ratios, 1:85 is used after Felicia has died. But a large portion of the film is in 1:33. “We fell in love with the aspect ratio,” he says. “I like to think that that frame embraces the characters, and when he’s alone at the end of the film, it expands out to 1.85 and that embrace is gone.”

Watch the video above.