Five Frames with The Final Girls cinematographer Elie Smolkin

 

The Film: The Final Girls
The Cinematographer: Elie Smolkin
The Tools: Shot on the Red Epic with short Angenieux zooms and Cooke S4 lenses
The Plot: On the one-year anniversary of her Scream Queen mother’s death, a young woman (Taissa Farmiga) and her friends are transported into her mom’s most famous movie – a campy camp slasher à la The Burning.

The deconstruction of the 1980s slasher film began before the corpse of the short-lived subgenre was even cold. Student Bodies (1981) started digging the grave. Scream (1996) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012) disinterred the body and scattered the pieces.

So why tune in for another poke at the carcass of the stalk-and-slash flick? Because The Final Girls is more than just another mocking of the slasher film’s “sin equals death” conservatism.

It’s a PG-13 comedy that captures the spirit of the “dead teenager” movie without the gruesomeness. It’s a visually inventive delight that, rather than emulating the look of Friday the 13th, presents its alternative reality as a Technicolor world awash in purples and hyper-saturated greens. And, most importantly, it has a heart at its center thanks to an emotional turn from Farmiga as the grieving daughter.

The Final Girls cinematographer, Elie Smolkin, broke down a few shots from the film for us.

Check out other interviews in the Five Frames series here. Continue Reading ›

Spring cinematographer and co-director Aaron Moorhead

 

Spring is the rarest of horror film breeds – a genre effort that would function perfectly well shorn of all its macabre elements. It’s one of the few horror films I’d describe as thematically beautiful – a meditation on love and chemical attraction, faith and skepticism, science and magic. The film’s horror comes not from the Lovecraftian creature that belatedly makes its bow, but rather from the shared existential inevitabilities of the human condition.

Aaron Moorhead – who co-directed, co-edited, produced and served as cinematographer – talked to Deep Fried Movies about the making of the genre-bending Spring. He was joined by crew member Will Sampson, who, in keeping with Moorhead’s multi-hyphenate job description, served as 1st Assistant Camera, Steadicam and drone operator, and scorpion wrangler. Continue Reading ›

Five Frames with It Follows cinematographer Mike Gioulakis

I recently interviewed It Follows cinematographer Mike Gioulakis for Filmmaker Magazinea piece you can read here – and had so much good stuff left over that I decided to post a bit of the overflow. Continue onward as Gioulakis walks us through the specifics of how he created five of the film’s memorable frames. Continue Reading ›

Deep Fried Interview: WolfCop writer/director Lowell Dean

When David Cronenberg’s 1975 horror film They Came From Within hit screens – partially funded with taxpayer dollars by the Canadian Film Development Corporation – a Canadian national magazine famously featured the headline, “You Should Know How Bad This movie Is – You Paid For It.”

No such disclaimer was necessary when WolfCop howled its way into theaters last year. Canadian audiences knew exactly what kind of romp they were in for. After all, they helped get it made.

Both WolfCop’s $1 million budget and Canadian theatrical release in select Cineplex Odeon theaters came via the paradigm-disrupting CineCoup Film Accelerator, a 12-week contest in which nearly 100 potential feature films battled for fan votes and social media engagements to determine which received a greenlight.

WolfCop writer/director Lowell Dean spoke to Deep Fried Movies about that unique preproduction process, the benefits of using action figures to create storyboards and breaking every rule in the Coors Light product placement playbook. Continue Reading ›

Deep Fried Interview: Starry Eyes cinematographer Adam Bricker

Starry Eyes

(Top) A frame from Starry Eyes. (Bottom) The behind the scenes set-up needed to create that frame. Crew members pictured are, from left to right: Best Boy Electric Christopher Faulkner, 1st AC Charlie Panian, actress Alex Essoe, Key Grip Adam Goral, Director Dennis Widmyer and 1st AD Dave Casper.

Anyone considering relocating to Los Angeles to pursue the vagabond life of the thespian should first check out the Faustian cautionary tale Starry Eyes. The lovechild of early Cronenberg and Polanski, conceived to the sounds of John Carpenter and Goblin, Starry Eyes unfolds in an L.A. of sickly greens and despondent grays. That palette comes courtesy of cinematographer Adam Bricker, who spoke to Deep Fried Movies about his work on the film. Continue Reading ›

Deep Fried Interview: Bad Turn Worse cinematographer Jeff Bierman

The quote above slips out of the mouth of teenage bookworm Sue (Mackenzie Davis) in the first post-credits scene of the new Texas-set neo noir Bad Turn Worse. It’s followed by a 1990s-era Tarantino-ish digression on the semantics of biscuits and gravy at the fast food joint Whataburger.

Considering my affection for Thompson’s misanthropic crime novels and Whataburger’s buttery goodness, Bad Turn Worse pretty much had me at “biscuit and gravy.” However, the film took a circuitous route getting there. The Whataburger scene was shot in Los Angeles nearly a year after principal photography wrapped in Texas, part of a series of pick-ups that shaped the film into its final form. Continue Reading ›

Deep Fried Interview: The One I Love cinematographer Doug Emmett

One I Love poster

No more low budget indie films. That’s what cinematographer Doug Emmett told himself. No more $100,00 budgets. No more 15-day shooting schedules. No more choosing lenses because they’re free and no more crashing in guest rooms.

Then the “scriptment” for The One I Love arrived and along with it the tale of a couple whose weekend retreat takes an unexpected turn into Twilight Zone territory. Continue Reading ›

Deep Fried Interview: Haunt director Mac Carter

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(Above) Director Mac Carter in front of the haunted domicile at the center of Haunt, released today on home entertainment platforms by IFC Midnight.

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Whatever the equivalent proverb is for filmmaking, director Mac Carter embraced it on the supernatural horror film Haunt.

Shot on the Red Epic in Salt Lake City, Haunt was intended to be lensed in a house surrounded by lush foliage with a Ouija board at its center. Then Utah dumped an unseasonable load of snow on the production and Hasbro refused to allow the movie to use its trademarked Ouija board. Carter turned both curses into blessings, shifting Haunt’s surroundings to a wintry landscape accentuated by cool blues and abandoning the Ouija board for a more cinematic “ghost box.” Continue Reading ›