PRODUCTION | THE CONJUR I NG
T here are few modern fright-fests quite so beloved as the world of The Conjuring . With spin-offs spanning the Annabelle films, The Nun and The Curse of La Llorona , the story that started it all now has a third chapter. For The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It , series icon, James Wan, passes the directorial reins to Michael Chaves. This gives cinematographer, Michael Burgess, a whole new level of responsibility. But after collaborating on The Curse of La Llorona , the pairing was a strong bet. “Leading the team is always daunting, no matter what the movie, but having the weight of the franchise on top did heighten that tremendously,” Burgess says. “It’s about getting the director’s vision across to the screen. I take it one shot at a time. You work through it that way, hope to do the best job possible, and put your own touch on every shot.” Of note, four out of Burgess’s five feature films as director of photography
The Arri Alexa Mini makes wonderful images, so we used that for the tightest, most compromising positions – or on Steadicam
are horrors. While his earlier work within the camera department spans a whole host of genres, it’s safe to say he’s a true aficionado. “Horror films allow you to be more expressive with lighting,” he continues. “You can do things out of the norm – that makes it so fun for a DOP. “There certainly was visual language that we sought to maintain on this shoot – an integrity that the world of The Conjuring is built on. But, at the same time, this was the first one James Wan didn’t direct. In that sense, it was approached through new eyes, and what I tried to do was help Chaves bring his vision to life.” In crafting the look of any film, there’s much to consider, not least the tools used to capture it. For Burgess, though, practical concerns remain as vital as creative ones. “We used the Arri Alexa SXT and Alexa Mini, with two sets of lenses from Panavision – the Primo Prime and Super Speeds,” he explains.
08 DEF I N I T ION | AUGUST 2021
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