Definition December 2020 - Web

PRODUCTION | THE DEV I L ALL THE T IME

ABOVE Lol Crawley oversees with a skilled eye as director, Antonio Campos, views a frame

photographically, that it would feel too much like a patchwork.” There were few downsides to the medium, but the shoot wasn’t entirely without difficulty. “I suppose any real issues were just to do with continuity of light. The most advanced digital cameras today are incredibly sensitive in low light, which can be a benefit, of course. “When shooting film, you have to introduce more light into the scene than you otherwise would. So, keeping continuity of light or even just keeping light levels up was one of the biggest challenges,” he explains. When it came to lens choice, Crawley wanted a look in line with strong and classic vision, so opted for a set of Cooke S4/i primes as his primary glass. “We also looked at using closer focusing lenses and went for the Canon K35 Primes,” he tells us. “This helped practically during moments like the prayer log, which is a very difficult location to access, but also at times when we wanted to get particularly intimate with the characters. The camera would be physically close, handheld, and the K35s let us capture a beautiful very shallow depth- of-field.” What we’re left with is a visual delight – a film that’s strong on all fronts, reflective of the work that went into its creation.

The shadows in this film could be considered a character in their own right. Characters lurk in them, they invade the screen and they play into the southern gothic tone greatly. Thematically, the film holds an overarching feeling of dark versus light, and Crawley created an appropriate chiaroscuro to match. “Rather than going for what’s always been celebrated in film, which is those inky blacks, what I’ve been trying to do through my process is to find some very subtle colours in those blacks. Purples, browns and dark oranges mostly,” he says. “It’s rare that a painter of that era would use pure black in the way that many photographers are seeking to. What the painters would do is build up those shadows with certain deep, dark colours. I think it’s fascinating that with film you can try to use a very painterly approach and be inspired by it in that way.” Specifically, Crawley used the Arricam ST and LT camera packages, loaded with Kodak 250D and 500T film stocks, often push processed by one or two stops, because “I love those stocks and know them so well”. “Early in the film, we wanted more grain and more texture, but in the later scenes we wanted a cleaner look, so I didn’t push process those,” he explains. “I wanted a unity to the photography, especially because there are so many voices in the film with the many characters. We felt early on that if we really pushed those scenes in different directions

prep and during the shoot, and the ones that are suited to the tone we’re trying to create will stick. Between Antonio and me, our approach was very classical. We were just trying to go for a very strong, assured, robust photography that served the characters and served the story.” EACH FRAME A PAINTING There are many shots, particularly within those low-light scenes Crawley enjoyed so much, that possess a real painterly feel – a certain quality that’s hard to define for many viewers, but offers a taste of Rembrandt and his contemporaries. “Shooting on film is such a large part of it in my mind,” Crawley explains. “There’s just this quality to celluloid that isn’t looking to be as high resolution as possible. Especially when you shoot film the way I choose to shoot film, which is to underexpose and push process, it increases not only the grain and texture in the film, but it affects the shadows.”

Rather than go for those inky black shadows, I try to find some subtle colours in there

10 DEF I N I T ION | DECEMBER 2020

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