Shooting Sarah Chong
I recently wrapped on the entirely unique short film, Sarah Chong is Going to Kill Herself. The film was directed by Ella Jones, written by Elaine Gracie and produced by Alexandra Blue alongside Creative England, Big Talk and Baby Cow as part of the Funny Girls Scheme. The film is a surreal workplace fantasy in which a maltreated receptionist decides to take matters into her own hands. Hands which may well contain grenades. Attached is a gallery of images with BTS stills and frames from the film as well as some insight into how we shot it and the visual approach.
A period piece, Sarah Chong took us back to the 70s. The script was unlike anything I had ever read or seen before (you’re going to like it. A lot). It offered a fantastic opportunity to push very striking and bold visuals for the film. Ella was very clear with how she saw film from the beginning. We were influenced by the work of Wes Anderson, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Edgar Wright, to help us shape a look which supported the heightened nature of the script and will make for a very memorable and funny piece. We shot the film on the RED Dragon and Lomo Anamorphics, kindly supported by Filmscape.
The look of the film relied heavily on marrying production design (Gini and Sophia) with costume (Bex Crofton-Atikins) and cinematography. The Lomos are vintage lenses which match the era in which the film is set and have a number of personality traits which really suited the look we wanted, like bowing at the edges and a softness to help take the edge off the digital format. My focus puller Kate Eccarius colour matched each lens as they shift quite a bit between focal lengths. Lighting wise, I worked predominantly with top light. This helped compliment the office setting and design, and enabled us to move fast to manage a tight schedule. We needed to light 7 sets which were all built into an enormous 7 floor office building in East Croydon. A fantastic challenge well met with the help of gaffer Matt Markham and Cinelease. We used the octodome extensively and hovered it above the action using my new best friend, the mega boom arm. Solid name choice. Camera movement was key, and with the help of the Grip crew led by Neil Blakesley I worked almost exclusively from a PeeWee dolly to deliver very deliberate, precise moves which should add a lot to the humour of the piece.
It was a pleasure shooting a period film like this, working with some very talented people both familiar and new for me, and as a cinematographer a great challenge in finding a look which stretched myself beyond what I had done before. Sarah Chong is currently in post production and will be making its way onto the festival circuit in 2016.