American Cinematographer - November 2016 - 64

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A Friend in Need

Top: Conor looks for a distraction from the mounting pressures at home and at school. Bottom: Faura
checks the on-camera monitor as the crew lines up a shot with MacDougall.

the sky at night was going to be tricky.
You have suggested that Bayona
wanted a fluid, moving camera, and
that camera movement was crucial in
telling the story. Can you elaborate on
that?
Faura: We wanted to show
Conor's state of mind with the camera.
The story is entirely based on Conor's
experience, but Conor is a passive hero
- he doesn't take the lead. There is a lot
going on around him, but he is just a kid
trying to manage the storm, so we tried
64

November 2016

to link the camera to his mood.
[Operator] Albert Carreras has collaborated with [Bayona] on all his movies, so
they have a fluent relationship on set.
There were scenes where the camerawork was absolutely defined in advance,
and some others where we had an original plan but we changed it after seeing
a rehearsal. It's kind of an organic
construction.
Dolly and handheld were the
most [prominent] methods of camera
movement. I would say that handheld
American Cinematographer

was reserved to emphasize dynamism.
An example would be the [climactic]
nightmare scene at the cemetery. After
an intense dramatic scene with his
mother [Felicity Jones] at the hospital
room, Conor runs away to the cemetery,
where the yew tree waits for him. The
dialogue scene was shot static, and then
the frantic runaway was shot using
different camera supports: an electric
tracking vehicle, a Steadicam, a
[Supertechno 30], and sometimes
handheld, which helped us to travel the
camera and increase the tempo in the
scene. Once the boy is in front of the
Monster, the camera narrative slows
down while they are arguing. Here, we
again combined several camera
supports, this time due to location,
because we shot part of the scene in an
actual cemetery full of real tombstones
that we had to overfly to be able to move
the camera. During their argument, the
camera moves in a fluid way, and then
when Conor sees his mother, the
camera starts to shake violently.
Tell us your reasoning behind
shooting A Monster Calls with Arri
Alexa XT Studio cameras.
Faura: [Shooting digitally] was a
difficult decision, and the conclusion
came after doing several comparison
tests and a lot of research. Our original
preference was to shoot film, but we had
to consider very seriously all the visualeffects department's demands. One of
our main characters was a digital creature, and we got his performance on a
motion-capture stage. One of the main
reasons to consider the digital-camera
option was that we wanted to have a
real-time [SolidTrack] tracking system
to allow us to see Liam Neeson's performance interacting with the kid on the
monitor while we were shooting.
During the first test, we used film
and digital cameras in parallel in order
to find an alternative aesthetic to film.
We shot in a simplified version of
Conor's room with a bunch of cameras
and lenses of all classes and manufacturers. After watching the tests, we selected
our favorite options, and then did a
second test. This time, we shot a



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
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American Cinematographer - November 2016 - Cover4
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