American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 54

◗

Crimes of Passion

Locked frames capture Katherine staring out the window, trapped inside her room.

historically appropriate colors, and
dressed them sparsely, reflecting the
male characters' lack of interest in ornament or beauty. "I thought, 'Let's create
a sort of austerity that is light, empty
and bare, rather than one that's stuffy
and claustrophobic, so we can create a
sort of vacuum, an airless environment
for Katherine,'" says the director. "She
only gets air when she leaves the house,
when she breaks the seal by opening the
door."
The only problem with the castle
was that its massive, turreted exterior
seemed far too grandiose to belong to
Boris, a coal-mine owner. The filmmakers' solution was simple and economical:
Just skip the wide establishing shots and
trust the audience to figure out the lay of
the land.
54

July 2017

Apart from this, Oldroyd and
Wegner fully embraced wide shots,
making them fundamental to the
movie's design. "We wanted as much as
we could to shoot master wide shots to
cover a whole scene," says Wegner. This
was partly practical. "We knew we
couldn't do that many setups," says
Oldroyd, "maybe three to four maximum per scene." It was also expressive
of a minimalist aesthetic they both
admired: he in the works of Michael
Haneke, she in the films of Kelly
Reichardt and Gus van Sant. Plus,
moving actors around in wide masters
was something Oldroyd felt comfortable doing, akin to his stage experience.
He and Wegner chose the widescreen
2.39:1 aspect ratio to better display the
dynamics between characters, encoded
American Cinematographer

in the distance between them.
"We were going through the
schedule with our first AD, George
Every, who's very experienced," Wegner
recalls. "He said, 'I've never scheduled a
movie with this many pages on one day.'
We had to reassure him that our coverage was so minimal that it could be
done. Looking back, the fact that we
really stuck with this bold approach
allowed us to craft and polish frames,
making each one great. We knew we'd
be lingering on every shot. Having three
or four hours to do maybe four or five
shots gives you time to craft."
During two weeks of transcontinental conversations on Skype, followed
by three weeks of prep at the castle,
Wegner and Oldroyd developed a game
plan. The production's look would
underscore Katherine's shifting circumstances and emotional state: locked,
static frames when she's denied her free
will, and handheld shots when she's at
liberty to roam the outdoors or be with
Sebastian. "Will and I always agreed we
wanted to work within some strict visual
rules for the film, partly because we both
enjoy that approach, but mainly to
emphasize the world of rules and
boundaries in which Katherine is
trapped," says Wegner. "So, locked
frames with no camera movement for
the periods when Katherine has no
agency over her movements, contrasted
with an energetic handheld for the peri-



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - July 2017

Contents
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 1
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 2
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Contents
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 4
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 5
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 6
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 7
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 40
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41A
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41B
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 42
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