Pawel Pogorzelski on Hereditary

The Approach: Family drama morphing into nightmare

How They Did It: I achieved this goal with a specific visual guide for lighting, camera movement, and lens choices. The moonlight becomes progressively harder and greener and the night ambiance darker as the film progresses. For the day scenes, the sun disappears behind clouds as we progress in the story, making the interiors darker as well. We also used wider lenses as the movie goes on, to give the house its own character and make the people in it feel like dolls trapped inside.

The Takeaway: Prep and test everything imaginable. Ask rental houses for help and they might just lend you a corner of the studio to do your tests. In our case, we were granted prep space and access to gear in exchange for inviting students to join us and learn. From that, we were able to find our excellent camera trainee. Back up your director, trust him or her, and fight for the film.

For their sixth collaboration together, Hereditary Ari Aster (L) and DP Pawel Pogorzelski (R) recently added Panavision to the mix, working with the company on a custom set of prime lenses. Photograph by James Minchin, courtesy of A24

Tech Box

Shooting days: 32

Camera: Arri Alexa and Mini

Lenses: Detuned Panavision Primos

Lighting: DMG Lumière LEDs

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