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Fearful Visions: Horror Cinematographers Reveal Their Secrets

Fearful Visions: Horror Cinematographers Reveal Their Secrets


Jan-Michael Losada (Tales of Halloween, Don’t Kill It, Victor Crowley)

Horror’s a tough genre for a number of reasons. It’s filled with cool set pieces that are usually on the dark side of the lighting universe, and it can often be hard to balance what’s too dark or too bright for any given scene. You have to ride a fine line of showing just enough to understand what’s happening, and hide just enough so that it’s still scary. It’s a constant balancing act.

Slasher movies tend to revolve around the kills—I mean, that’s what makes them so fun to watch, right? But those scenes make shooting indie horror so complicated. There are always so many moving parts to them, from the blood tubes to the prosthetics to the timing, that you often have only one shot at getting the gag. It can lead to a stressful environment; a lot more goes into a half-second shot of someone being decapitated than a 10-minute scene of folks talking in a diner.

On Tackling a Sequel

The first thing I did after meeting with [Victor Crowley director] Adam Green was watch the previous three Hatchet movies. There’s a legacy there that I wanted to do justice to; [previous DP] Will Barratt had crafted such unique films with definitive looks, and I wanted to capture that same essence while adding my own spin on it. My goal was to recreate the fun spirit of the originals and add as much color as I could. I come from a music-video background, where cool looks are favored over realistic ones. Even though there’s quite a bit of drama inVictor Crowley , it was still a very heightened reality that gaffer Paul Salmons and I did our best to convey with the lighting.

A scene from Victor Crowley, shot by Jan-Michael Losada. Image courtesy of ArieScope Pictures

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