The Look of Winchester
"This spirit has a power we have not seen before...
It has found us."
Director of Photography Ben Nott ACS marks his fourth collaboration with The
Nott and The Spierig brothers believe they can take skeptics on a ride that
might convince them
otherwise. And it has everything to do with the power of perception, lighting -
the whole metamorphosis
of the genre's traits played out before their eyes.
"WINCHESTER has its own unique feel and texture that is delivered by the
lavish production design,
beautiful costuming, Melbourne's Victorian Architecture and a simple lighting
philosophy that is
underpinned by deep blacks that are punctuated by burning highlights and rich
colors," says Nott. "The
core creative team have collaborated on several films and hence has a wonderful
short hand when it
comes to building a cohesive look. In starting our look development, we drew the
from the wonderful eclectic madness that is the Winchester House in San Jose
There were specific filming choices Nott made: Shooting with Alexi Ari XT on
E series anamorphics.
"They're an older series of lens that are a little softer at the edges and, to
my taste, fit the palette, the genre
and the era in which the film is set. We are rolling two cameras, A and B all
the time, with a C that comes
and goes. My skill is to coordinate the photography to provide mood that is
sympathetic to the narrative
but allows the actors the freedom to move through the spaces as they deliver
their performances. This
film is very much defined by what the audience does not see so I have taken
great care with the depth and
detail in the shadow area of the frame."
Shadows, mysteries, diffused light - all hallmarks of shaping terror through
the lens of Nott and company.
"The hardest thing about doing a film like this is how do you make it scary?
To keep it grounded in reality,"
informs Peter Spierig. "When you have truth, a real story about a real place and
a real person, that makes
it really terrifying. Michael and I like to misdirect with scares - where you
think it's going to happen
on this beat or at this moment and then it happens later or earlier, or goes in
some other direction. That
makes it a little scarier. But when the people are real, some part of you has to
care and that is what makes
it more terrifying. You want them to get out of that situation. You want them to
"But the hope for Michael and I is that the audience experiences a very
scary, terrifying, haunted
As to whether the brothers believe in ghosts?
"I do believe that there is an energy source in all of us that may float
around after we leave our bodies,"
"I've never met a ghost. We've never chatted or hung out," adds Peter. "I
can't say I've ever experienced
anything. But I know people who have. Maybe it's real. Maybe not."
Regardless, one question remains:
If Sarah built the house to confront those vengeful ghosts in life and she
died in that house...is history
really doomed to repeat itself?
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