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The Look of Winchester
"This spirit has a power we have not seen before... It has found us." ...Sarah Winchester

Director of Photography Ben Nott ACS marks his fourth collaboration with The Spierig Brothers on WINCHESTER.

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 greatest inspiration from the wonderful eclectic madness that is the Winchester House in San Jose CA."

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 survive.

"But the hope for Michael and I is that the audience experiences a very scary, terrifying, haunted house movie."

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," concedes Michael.

"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 history really doomed to repeat itself?


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