SEVERANCE PRODUC T I ON .
REACHING THE PEAK Parks and Recreation’s Adam Scott stars as Mark. He describes the role as one he’s been working towards his whole career
“I like fairly neutral colours,” she admits, “and looks that aren’t over the top. But there are several moments where Kurt and I got to create some unique effects together, and it was a super-fun process. “There’s the music dance experience, which Ben [Stiller] gave us the soundtrack for as a first step. I provided Kurt with a palette, then we’d meet up every few days on the MDR set to play with a lighting sequence. Our dimmer board operator, Kevin Casaletta, is the one to credit for much of it – there was a lot of fully custom design. “My favourite colour moment – and one of my most loved scenes – is during the egg party. We created a whole Korean spa vibe, cutting to Mark and Helly in the kitchen, except the whole room is lit pink. That was our Wong Kar-wai moment. It was so absurd,” Gagné smiles. As if the results weren’t testament enough to the ingenuity of the DOP and her team, when creating the ceiling softbox within the Lumon building, we must also consider that virtually no additional lighting was brought in. “I struggle with beauty lighting,” Gagné tells us. “If we had an extra Skypanel, we may bounce it or mount it on a stand and push it through heavy diffusion – but that was rare, and only done with certain characters.
“It was always a game of logistical Tetris, to work out how few camera set-ups I could use”
movement, because there wasn’t much additional lighting.” MIRROR IMAGE Maintaining consistency with the narrative, performances and lighting, much of Severance ’s camerawork leaned heavily into the presentation of two distinct worlds. But how do you create distinction, without it leading to an especially jarring divide? “The contrast that’s in the colour grade and the image itself – and how we exposed – were probably what brought everything together most. I definitely tend to underexpose a lot, and that gives a consistent textural tone to everything,” says Gagné. “When it came to framing, we knew from the beginning that something weirder and wider was needed in the basement, and then something more traditional and longer-lens up top. In MDR, there’s a weird, robotic, very inhumanly operated camera. It lives in unusual spaces – up close and with very stressful angles. But the outside world is more traditional. We’re further away and it’s more of a voyeuristic feeling. So, no matter what, these characters are always being observed in a way. We’re constantly dealing with paranoia, but in two different visual languages. “There are moments, like in the elevator, which are all about changing that perspective,” the cinematographer continues. “You watch Mark go down
“Ultimately, in MDR, we were most often shooting with three cameras. I believe in giving the director as many shots as possible – I’m kind of obsessed with that. I know some people are more interested in how good the one shot is, but seeing Ben work, having options and being able to create on the spot comes from the extra camera. “I’d try to get a whole scene of 30 shots in just a few camera set-ups. It was always a game of logistical Tetris, to work out how few I could use. We wanted reactions to improvised moments and, with three cameras, could capture almost the full scene in the same take – minus inserts. “We definitely developed a working style, which was to leave room for creativity. And MDR was a set that allowed us that freedom of camera
43. MAY 2022
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