DEFINITION July 2022 - Newsletter


CAN’T GET A BREAK Being a teenager is rough at the best of times, but growing up in Hawkins is something else

S pare a thought for Caleb Heymann. In late 2019, the sci-fi-loving cinematographer landed a dream job – working with the Duffer Brothers as one of two DOPs on Season 4 of Stranger Things . He’d already read the scripts of the supernatural horror-drama and spent the next four months prepping to take the reins for four episodes. But just as shooting was due to start, the industry was turned upside down. The US – along with most of the world – went into Covid-19 lockdown, and production was delayed until August 2020. “We felt like guinea pigs, as we were one of the first shows to start up again,” recalls Heymann. “Only certain people could go into red zones with the actors, we had to work out who was staying in the green and yellow zones, whether you had to wrap equipment in plastic or even have a drink. It was a journey into the unknown. “A couple of times an actor tested positive, and we had to come up with something else to shoot – there was no way we couldn’t work for a week once we’d restarted,” he continues. “There was always some other piece to do, but often it wasn’t planned. So, rather than being in this distinctive block system where you’d be working on two episodes at a time, in the first few weeks we were doing scenes from episodes 7, 8 and 9 that hadn’t been fully prepped. “It was a real nightmare for continuity, because you were locking in hair and make-up, the look of bruises and the way dirt was falling on somebody, for something you’re going to be shooting

in nine months’ time. We were often tackling seven episodes in a week, or four episodes in a single day, just to always be shooting something.” Talking last month, Heymann appears to have emerged unscathed from what he describes as ”a full year of crazy, long weeks and hard work”, putting much of his sanity down to his meticulous paperwork admin, paired with galleries of stills shot on-set. “The Duffer Brothers knew what they wanted, so it was always just a conversation away. But I needed spreadsheets!” he smiles. “They were colour-coded for different storylines, each had a one-line description of what happens in a scene and any special equipment we needed. Between that and the stills that detailed all the set-ups, it was the only way to keep sane!” In truth, Heymann wasn’t a complete – erm – stranger to the show. He’d worked as second unit DOP on Season 3, giving him a first taste of a giant production, but was more used to working on independent films, only shooting his first feature in 2015. The big break came in 2018 when director Leigh Janiak – herself a young director – brought him in as DOP for the Fear Street trilogy, eschewing the typical route of employing a seasoned veteran for the camera work. “With a young director, the natural thing to do is get an experienced DOP,” confirms Heymann, “but Leigh and I had known each other for a while, and she responded to the lookbook I put together.” As a new project, Heymann had been able to define and influence the look of the Fear Street films from the

“In the first few weeks we were doing scenes from episodes 7, 8 and 9 that hadn’t been fully prepped. It was a real nightmare for continuity”

DAYLIGHT SAVING Tracking character development through sensitive visuals is key to the show’s success


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