The lightweight and top-of-the-range products offered by DoPchoice were essential in maximising shoot time and capturing Markus Förderer ASC BVK’s unique vision.
Bliss is an Amazon Prime produced science-fiction drama, written and directed by Mike Cahill, which centres around Greg (Owen Wilson) whose life is in disarray when he meets the mysterious Isabel (Salma Hayek) who tries to convince him he is living in a simulation.
Creating two different worlds within the same film is no mean feat. Förderer crafted two contrasting visuals by using handheld camerawork, anamorphic lenses and a desaturated colour palette for the more negative realm and for the ‘Bliss World’ he used warmer colour temperatures shot with spherical lenses. Lighting was the most important factor in creating these separate, but not wholly different, settings. Förderer made minor tweaks to his lighting rig to achieve this effect and to not waste time with over-elaborate set ups. The cinematographer said of this mentality “less equipment allows for greater flexibility. Just move a few lights and you are ready to go for the next shot”.
For the majority of the feature, the equipment in question was a combination of ARRI SkyPanel S360s and S60s, DMG Mini Mix, plus battery-powered Astera tubes. He relied heavily on DoPchoice Snapbags and Snapgrids to soften and direct the lights. For the uglier, reality-tethered world Förderer paired SkyPanels at a colour temperature of 9000° Kelvin with 5’ diameter Octa 5 and 7’ diameter Octa 7 Snapbags. These snap-up softboxes suited the efficient cinematographer’s style as he mentioned “Octas take less time to set up and fit right on the lights so the diffusion panel is part of the fixture. You need less stands on set which means less marks on the ground, and a smaller gear footprint”.
For the night scenes, Förderer also used Astera tubes combined with a uniquely designed Snapgrid. “It was especially useful for a sequence when they play with candles in Isabel’s tarp home, to give accent light without illuminating the background. Snapgrid for Astera is one device that does it all,” he said.
Bliss is available to stream on Prime Video now.