Look Book: Ex Machina’s inspirations

When filmmakers are in preproduction, they often put together a “look book” – a collection of images from other filmmakers, painters, photographers, etc. that serves as visual inspiration. The idea behind this new semi-occasional column is to peek into a movie’s look book to reveal some of its forbearers. Today we’ll be looking at Ex Machina. Here’s a quote from cinematographer Rob Hardy about the film’s inspirations – taken from an interview I did with Hardy for Filmmaker Magazine (which you can read here in it entirety):

What’s so remarkable about (Ex Machina writer/director) Alex Garland’s writing is that you read it and it elicits such a strong vision. So in a strange way we had very few references. There were perhaps two that came up in conversation simply because we were trying to demonstrate an idea. One of them was the photographer Saul Leiter, the 1950s New York street photographer. He shot a lot of things through shop windows and a lot of his work was based on reflections. His color work is just extraordinary. The other person was [Kazimir] Malevich, who is a Russian painter who worked with abstract geometric shapes and forms. For me, that informed very much the way in which I would light the set and control those lines and those reflections. I could make frames within frames and position Ava and Caleb in a way that would be not just visually pleasing but also serve the feelings we were trying to elicit….

Continue onward for galleries of Leiter and Malevich’s work in addition to a few frame grabs from Ex Machina. Check out the rest of the Look Book series here.

Ex Machina

Saul Leiter

Kazimir Malevich

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