“What’s interesting about Ghostface is that once the character is in the costume, they kind of cease to be themselves and just become Ghostface. We talked a lot about that. Ghostface really is always Ghostface regardless of who’s in the costume.”

The latest interview for my Filmmaker Magazine column is now up – Scream VI cinematographer Brett Jutkiewicz. The Ready or Not and Black Phone DP takes the franchise to New York – and to spherical lenses – for the first time in the series. Below you’ll find a few scene breakdowns from Jutkiewicz from the story. Shot on Arri Alexa Minis with Cooke S5 lenses.

Ghostface in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream VI." © 2022 Paramount Pictures. Ghost Face is a Registered Trademark of Fun World Div., Easter Unlimited, Inc. ©1999. All Rights Reserved.”. Ghost Face is a Registered Trademark of Fun World Div., Easter Unlimited, Inc. ©1999. All Rights Reserved.”

Filmmaker: Along with the subway scene, the sequence in the bodega with Ghostface and the sisters places the film firmly in an urban environment compared to Woodsboro.

Jutkiewicz: That was a practical location. For that scene, I wanted to create as much freedom for the movement of the actors as possible. I worked with our art department and my gaffer, Eames Gagnon, and his team, who rigged Astera tubs into the fixtures in the ceiling. They were controlled by the board operator so we could dim them and change their color however we wanted throughout the course of the scene. We also put our tubes in the refrigerators. It’s a fairly brightly lit space and that really fits with the scene, because Ghostface is so brazen and so aggressive and just doesn’t care that he’s in a room full of other people. We brought some small units in here and there for eye lights—for example, when the sisters are crawling around on the ground—but for the most part, it was just embracing the fluorescents, then turning some lights off in the background if we needed to take down walls and create a little more shape. 

On the set of Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream VI."

Filmmaker: Let’s circle back to the subway scene. It’s Halloween, so the subway car is filled with people in iconic horror costumes, including multiple Ghostface masks. More and more DPs are using LED screens for scenes like that. How did you approach creating the illusion of a moving subway car on stage?

Jutkiewicz: That was probably the sequence we talked about the most in prep, just because of the logistical challenges. We talked about LED panels outside of the cars, but we would’ve needed so many of them to cover a 50-foot subway car. Then we started talking about other options and I thought we might be able to pull it off with just a lighting effect with chase lights. We did a test with a cardboard cutout of the subway car with windows cut into it and it looked pretty good, so we developed that idea further. We wound up putting about 70 feet of lights on each side of the train car—the 50-foot length of the car, plus 10 feet on either end. There were three rows of lights outside the train at different heights on either side and we programmed a chase sequence that would have a feeling of randomness, so it didn’t feel super repetitive. I also hung some very thin black silk between the windows and lights, which basically just diffused the lights slightly and obscured the actual fixtures. The art department scuffed up the windows as well [to limit visibility out of them]. Basically, it was just a big black box with massive lighting rigs on either side of it.

Inside, we had the flicker effect. I was able to cue that live over the walkie talkie to the board operator, so we could watch what the actors were doing and flicker the lights at the right time, keep them off for as long as we wanted and have them come back on at the right time. I can’t imagine doing it any other way now because of the amount of control that I had in the sequence. When I was standing on that set, watching the lights go by with the special effects team rocking it back and forth, even to my eye it felt like I was standing on a moving subway car in New York.

Filmmaker: So, you didn’t even put greenscreen out the window? You achieved the effect entirely with lighting?

Jutkiewicz: There was no green screen at all. The special effects team was actually able to tow the car into and out of our subway platform set. So, there’s some brief moments when you can see the car stopping at a station. That’s actually practical. It’s being pulled from a black fabric tunnel onto our subway platform set and you can actually see it pulling in. That was also a big discussion in the beginning. How are we going to see the train move in and out of the platform without having a moving train? It was a team effort to figure that all out, but I think it worked well, especially when Mindy [played by Jasmin Savoy Brown] gets separated from the group. Being able to actually tow that train out of the shot and not have to cheat it with different angles or only be able to see in one direction when that happens was great.

Filmmaker: The subway platform was a set as well? I assumed that the train work was done on stage, but the platform was a practical location.

Jutkiewicz: No, they built the platform as well, then re-dressed it to be different stops along the route. I don’t know exactly what you would call it, but they had a little pallet mover kind of vehicle that hooked onto the subway car and could tow it in and out of the set.

Melissa Barrera, left, and Josh Segarra on the set of Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream VI."

Filmmaker: I always enjoy a good “crawling between two buildings on a ladder” scene. Was that a mixture of practical location and stage work?

Jutkiewicz: Yeah. Anything wide or overhead was done on the real location, then the art department built a matching set on stage. On the set, the actors were probably 10 feet off the ground with big mats stacked underneath. Getting the overhead shots on location was a challenge. We had to get a construction crane just to lift the camera crane onto the roof and to take it down. We talked about doing greenscreen for the overhead shots looking down, but we it was going to feel much more real to do it on the practical location. And kudos to [directors] Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett for helping push that through. That’s kind of their ethos: If we can do it practically, we should. Then, on stage, our approach was to avoid doing impossible angles. We thought of it as, “If we were going to shoot this all on location, where could we actually put the camera?” That was our starting place. We didn’t want a camera that’s floating in the middle of nowhere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s