American Cinematographer - July 2015 - 34

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Tortured Souls
U.K. Given the Gothic overtones of his
filmography, the cinematographer was
a natural choice to continue the work
of Xavi Giménez, AEC, who shot the
pilot and the first two episodes.
"You have to credit Xavi with
setting up the look," says McPolin.
"Showtime was very interested in
ensuring that the initial episodes of the
first season had impact." The network
invested both the time and money to
meet this mandate; the first two
episodes, photographed by Giménez,
were shot over 36 days, while new pairs
of episodes are currently scheduled to
be shot over 26 to 29 days.
During prep, the show's cinematographers plan meticulously with
its directors, and McPolin has
frequently collaborated with James
Hawes and Dearbhla Walsh to strategize his episodes. Shooting then begins
during a crossover period, with two
complete units working simultaneously
on different sets - an efficient
approach conceived by co-executive
producer Karen Richards and production manager Stephen Burt. "It's
impossible for one cinematographer to
do all that," says McPolin, "and [the
two-unit system] allows the production to economize on gear, sets and
actors." McPolin credits his return for
the show's second season to his association with Hawes, with whom he had
teamed on the first-season episodes
"Grand Guignol" and "Possession." He
notes, "They try to keep a cinematographer following a director, so when
James came back to do season two, I
was tapped to come along."
"If you're a new director of
photography and you come onto the
show, [the look] needs to be consistent," says Conroy, whose involvement
with the series began with the fourth
and fifth episodes of season two. Even
so, he says, the show's producers "like
you to bring something to it that's
different. That's also why they get
different directors. On Penny Dreadful
we had a rigging crew that changed out
from more of a harder light to a soft
light [achieved] with Chinese lanterns.

Top: A vampire
(Robert Nairne)
searches for Ives.
Middle and
bottom: The cast
and crew work
on a scene in
which Murray,
Chandler and
Sembene battle
vampires.

34

July 2015

American Cinematographer



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