Prepping for short film adaptation of Hansel and Gretel
I’m really looking forward to 2012 for all sorts of reasons. I’ll be making the leap into freelancing full time in April and moving to London, which means a lot more camera assisting, as well as aiming to meet competition and application deadlines for my own films. To hit the ground running at the very start of the year, I’ll be shooting an adaptation of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. The last few weeks have been spent on and off location, preparing for the shoot which will take place from the 4th – 8th of January. At the bottom of this post, I’ve included some stills from lighting tests.
At my early stage in my career, I’ve almost always very much been one man banding the process, organising all of the production side of things, scouting, crewing and casting. For the most part, I enjoy these things, but ultimately I would much rather focus solely on lighting and camera. It was my very good fortune then, to meet Rob Thorman, a budding writer, on the set of Skyborn. After some discussion, Rob told me about an adaptation of Hansel and Gretel that he was writing and asked if I would come on as director of photography. It’s a great story, a script that’s full of potential and a wonderful opportunity for me to focus purely on the visual language of the film – of course, I said yes!
Yesterday I went back to the lovely traditional English village of Wendover to visit the cottage which will be the location for the film, along with Ella (director), Rob (writer/producer) and Greg (gaffer). This is the second meeting after previously putting together a storyboard. This time, we worked together on a lighting plan for each of the scenes. It was a very productive and relieving process, where our individual ideas came together rather harmoniously, keeping the story and characters at the heart of every decision.
In the story, Hansel and Gretel are lured into the cottage by the Witch through freshly baked cakes and then a secure, cosy place to stay. To give a rough idea of the plans for lighting, we are going for a bleak look for exterior shots, which will contrast with a warmer feel for the most part on the interiors. We’ll be using some of the tungsten practical lights inside the cottage and supplementing them with redheads and fresnels for fill. As the mood of the story shifts towards something more sinister, the lighting will reflect that – implementing higher contrast, low key light and areas of shadow, using a mixture of daylight and tungsten where suitable. Inspiration for the look of the film has been drawn from a range of films including Amelie, Pan’s Labrynth, MicMacs and Barton Fink. Alongside the lighting, we’re aiming to incorporate some ambitious and challenging camera work such as long tracking shots and using wide angle lenses for specific effect. It should be great fun! I can’t wait to get going. For now, here are a few stills we took during some lighting tests. The likelihood is that the final images will look different to these, but they’re a very solid preparatory foundation to build from.