DEFINITION May 2022 - Web


“We shot with the Sony Venice, which I love for the HDR – especially with white sets and high contrast”

to the office the first time, and can see his face change. That’s simply a zolly shot – but for a viewer, we’re isolating the moment when the characters transition, and also showing you we’re capturing the image differently now because we’re in another world. We want you to feel something new.” Unlike the traditional dolly zoom, Gagné’s were captured in close quarters. The effect is far less pronounced and, as a result, all the more unsettling. These moments are perceptible, but not entirely placeable – and there are plenty of them. In addition to the elevator, we witness characters run through doors and back again – or transform openly, as they traverse between the two sides of their severed brain. “People normally use the zolly so you can see the difference between the foreground and background, but for us it was about the face changing. In all the effects we did, we wanted it to be subtle and minimal – never in-your-face.” Symmetry, too, is a recurring motif. Or, as Gagné herself describes it: graphic cinematography. The series opens on a bold, top-down shot of Helly lying on an expansive boardroom table. “The set was a big part of the look. You have specific empty spaces, perhaps with one desk in the middle – and the frame becomes all about that. You’re structuring and making things with straight lines. “There are plenty of non-symmetrical things as I see it, too, but it’s always very graphic. I would say it’s severed,” Gagné muses. “We would purposefully obscure people’s faces, or other key details, behind awkward frames within the frame. The viewer should always feel a little bit thrown off by it, or at least interested and intrigued, visually. In MDR, the desk

dividers were a huge part of that, but we achieved the same effect in many ways. “I wouldn’t say the overall graphic look was difficult to create. You would put the camera down on the ground and the shot would be beautiful, all thanks to the space.” SOFTENING THE EDGES “To help with the rigidity in the frame and strike a sense of balance, wider shots were achieved with spherical lenses,” Gagné explains. “The show was primarily on anamorphic glass, but when we went wider, we didn’t want to emphasise the distinctive bowing.” The optics in question belong to the Panavision C Series, coupled with a host of supplementary options. “I had always dreamt of working with those lenses – I’m a big seventies film geek,” the DOP effuses. “I had conducted a lot of research before we began, but the first thing I did when things were official was call Panavision. “We shot with the Sony Venice, which I love for the HDR – especially on Severance , with white sets and high contrast. The Venice is pure and very clean, and for the environment we were working in, it was the best choice to give us those really bright highlights. “The C Series accompanying a super digital-looking camera also softened that image. It was such a sharp set, by nature, that people think the cinematography is extremely sharp. It’s actually not, when talking about focus. I drive my ACs crazy, because I tend to shoot close to wide open. “ Severance had a lot of hard edges and black on white. Panavisions were perfect in that sense, and the 50mm close focus was our hero lens,” Gagné concludes. Watch Severance on Apple TV+

SHAKING IT UP Britt Lower plays Helly, a new employee at MDR

Production Fact File

suffering from some kind of amnesia. Lower describes the character as a ‘disruptor’

STARS A fine cast of actors, like Adam Scott, Christopher Walken and John Turturro, are joined by Ben Stiller – albeit from behind the camera

WRITING Dan Erickson’s script was penned long before the series’ release. It finally picked up acclaim as a screenplay in 2016, three years before production began

IN TWO MINDS Zach Cherry (below left), John Turturro (middle) and Adam Scott (right) are tackling the effects of strict compartmentalisation in Severance

LOCATION SHOOTING While elaborate sets were used, some exterior and interior shots were filmed at Bell Labs, New Jersey – designed by lauded architect, Eero Saarinen

45. MAY 2022

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