American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 14

Short Takes

I

Campfire Tale
By Michael Wylam

The eponymous lead character (played by Guy Pearce) in the
short film Lorne has grown paranoid from his extended isolation in the
wild. After a lone traveler stumbles across his campfire, Lorne engages
the visitor in a monologue, sharing musings and memories, and
slowly resolves to face his own existential fears. "Solitude will do that
to a man" he remarks.
Director Jesse Leaman had been discussing the story with
Pearce for some time before I was hired as the cinematographer. We
sought a painterly look that would translate Lorne's psychology into
the cinematography while still retaining a sense of dramatic realism,
and I wanted to employ subtle cues that would suggest photographically that we were being drawn into the character's world. I like to
think of a scene or an act like a symphony: Light and composition are
constantly reacting and building to serve the story. I would apply this
philosophy to the fractured landscape of Lorne's mind.
We had a limited budget and only one day to shoot the movie,
working in a remote forest in Victoria, Australia. The location itself was
to be a character, and we found a clearing that gave us the right
scenery and background depth for the nighttime campfire scene,
which accounts for 13 of the short's 15-minute run time. I was especially taken with a particular plant, Xanthorrhoea johnsonii - a.k.a.
the "grass tree" - which was prevalent in small clusters in this clearing; it had a character I felt was unique and somewhat foreboding,
and it would help me in sculpting the space with light. Leaman
remarked that my British sensibilities and foreigner's eye lent fresh
discovery and meaning to a familiar landscape.
14

November 2016

Just beyond the woods, we happened to find an old, abandoned Melbourne tram sitting solemnly in a large field. Inside stood
a warped upright piano, decaying but intact. The tram offered a
symbolism that instinctively felt right, so Leaman and Pearce masterfully wove this second location into the beginning of the story.
We shot in the tram during the day ahead of our night shoot
in the forest. My intention was to introduce a low-key look to this
opening daytime scene with soft washes of controlled light brushing
through the tram's windows, which further softened the quality of
the light, thanks to their age and dust. We shaped the natural
daylight look with an Arri M90 HMI through a 4'x4' Full Grid, 6'x6'
Half Grid and a 12'x12' Half Grid stacked in the field outside the
tram. Inside, we also rigged 2' four-bank Kino Flos with double 216
diffusion and an egg crate, giving us a soft, controlled light to
complement the M90 in specific places. We then arranged cutters
and negative fill to create subtle layers of shadow and subtraction for
Pearce to move through, lending some further character and realism
to the scene.
This additional location allowed us to expand Lorne's physical
and psychological geography, and helped us give the camerawork
itself a story arc. The upcoming forest scene would comprise pointof-view shots from the visitor's perspective, so here in the tram I
sought a compositional language that would guide the viewer into
Lorne's complex emotional world. A series of lingering frames punctuate the opening of the film, and then the camera loosens up,
reflecting Lorne's headspace as he starts to feel at ease and settles in
near the old piano.
At the sudden sound of a gunshot, Lorne flees the tram and
runs across the field. A long drone shot follows Lorne from a bird's-

American Cinematographer

Photos by Matt Dunne, courtesy of the filmmakers.

In the short Lorne, the title character (Guy Pearce) has perhaps been alone in the wild for too long.



American Cinematographer - November 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - November 2016

Contents
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - Intro
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 1
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 2
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - Contents
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 4
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 5
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 6
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 7
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 8
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 9
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 10
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 11
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 12
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 13
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 14
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 15
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 16
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 17
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 18
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 19
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 20
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 21
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 22
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 23
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 24
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 25
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 26
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 27
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 28
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 29
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 30
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 31
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 32
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 33
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 34
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 35
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 36
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 37
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 38
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 39
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 40
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 41
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 42
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 43
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 44
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 45
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 46
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 47
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 48
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 49
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 50
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 51
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 52
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 53
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 54
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 55
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 56
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 57
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 58
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 59
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 60
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 61
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 62
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 63
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 64
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 65
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 66
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 67
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 68
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 69
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 70
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 71
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 72
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 73
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 74
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 75
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 76
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 77
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 78
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 79
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 80
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 81
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 82
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 83
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 84
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 85
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 86
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 87
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 88
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - November 2016 - Cover4
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