K I LL I NG EVE | DRAMA
T his magazine was founded for moving image. Every year, the industry changes and matures that moving image. It’s a natural evolution, as you would expect. But sometimes certain images unsettle that linear curve, and that shows up as a bump, a blip. When this happens, my interest is piqued, and I try to find out why. For me, this happens rarely, which is why I trust the instinct so much. The first time was in another industry, when listening to music engineered by George primarily aesthetic reasons. When I first saw high-definition footage, it appealed to my appreciation of the Massenburg. There was something very different about how he captured music. A really insipid analogy is the way Massenburg enabled more ‘space’ around the microphones and recordings. If you’re pushing me for a more emotional response: it was magic! And so it was when I first watched the third series of Killing Eve ; a brilliant show with a recognised production designer in Laurence Dorman (who is nominated again by the Emmys this year for the show) and photographed and lit by DOP Julian Court, who set the tone for the programme back in Series 1 and, in my opinion, should also have got a nomination for this year’s awards. LIGHTING EVE Court has always been the lead DOP for Killing Eve . In Series 1, he shot the first couple of episodes, and then the last three. Since then, in Series 2 and 3, he has shot six out of the eight. So, quite rightly, he has been responsible for the visual tone of the programme. Crucially, Court lit the very first episodes, which meant he worked with the set-up director and took on the creative decisions before anybody filmed anything. “That was a long process in Series 1,” he recalls. “We prepped for about 11 weeks,
I’m going to be thinking about the way that lighting works with the lens choice I’mmaking
including a lot of foreign travel, scene locations and planning it out, as you do. It was a gentle evolution as a team – creative heads of departments working out exactly what the show is going to be, what its tone is and how they will translate into production design, cinematography and so on.” SERIES THREE For Court, Series 3 is the culmination of all the work he has done for the first two. “It’s a difficult one, isn’t it?” he muses. “I remain proud of the work I have done in the first two series, and I’d like to think that there was a subtle progression through the episodes. Things changed and grew and we built upon what we thought had been successful. That’s everybody, from the execs on both sides of the Atlantic through to directors, and my own closer colleagues in the camera world. We came to a feeling about what’s working and what’s not – it’s a subtle change of emphasis to follow the narrative and the characters. Series 3 was an evolution of all that thinking.” But what is it that elevates the really good cinematography we saw in Series 1 and 2 to something higher? Series 3 was the first one that used the Arri Alexa LF camera, so maybe that’s the answer. Court ponders on this. “Is it the new camera? Of course, that’s part of a bigger picture. The answer is that it’s the alchemy of a lot of things. In technology terms, yes, the new cameras did change things. Standard format to large format is definitely an improvement. You get a smoothness and detail from the Alexa LF – it’s fantastic. But it’s perfectly true to say that in some other people’s hands you will get results that won’t look as good, interesting or amazing, depending of what you perceive them to be. In others, they might look even more so.” He continues: “It really depends on a great number of things coming together. Yes, it’s camera technology, which lenses you use with it (very important), the way you light and what all these things are doing together. So when I point that camera at the action, depending on the mood of the scene and who’s in it, I’m going to light it a certain way; I’m going to be thinking about the way that lighting works with the lens choices I’m making and the camera choice that I’ve made. I’m adding a little bit of atmosphere to most of the interiors, which is also playing into the slight diffusion and softening of that image.
BELOW Julian Court, the lead DOP on Killing Eve, at work on-set
SEPTEMBER 2020 | DEF I N I T ION 35
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