Looks That Kill: Eleven Horror DPs Reveal the Tricks and Tech Behind the Year’s Scariest Shooting Schemes

Looks That Kill: Eleven Horror DPs Reveal the Tricks and Tech Behind the Year’s Scariest Shooting Schemes

Cinematography

Sara Deane on Anna and the Apocalypse

The Approach: Colorful Christmas turns darkly sour

How They Did It: We decided to go wild with Christmas lights and decorations, and wanted the opening to feel rich and vibrant and the characters to seem youthful and hopeful. A lot of the film is set in a school with long, dark corridors, so we festooned them with pearl and colored bulbs so every shot felt festive. We were shooting in Port Glasgow in January, which is very gray that time of year and has about six hours of daylight, so we tented the school canteen and used white bounce for day and black tent for night. John McPhail, the director, was keen on the idea that our bold Christmas hues would become darker and sicker as the zombie apocalypse takes hold. As the film goes on, our day exteriors get bleaker and our interiors became sickly green, dirty yellow, sodium orange.

Winter Kills: A song-and-dance number that required a big set dress was wiped out by a storm. When we were shooting one of the last exterior scenes—a circular track around some characters surrounded by zombies, singing their hearts out—the weather was terrible. We got rained off the set about four times, but when we finally managed to shoot it, it was bleak and desolate—absolutely perfect for that moment in the story.

The Takeaway: I loved creating a heightened world that pushes the boundaries of reality. Shooting dance and action sequences is always a fun challenge, and I’d love to do more of them.

Anna and the Apocalypse DP Sara Deane used colored bulbs for a sickeningly sweet aesthetic. Image courtesy of Orion Pictures

Tech Box

Shooting days: 30

Cameras: Alexa SXT and Alexa Mini

Lenses: Cooke S4s and Black Pro-Mists

Lighting: HMIs, tungsten Fresnels, Kinos, festoons, MoleBeams, Tektites

Picture post/DI: Baselight

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