Luke Palmer and his cinematography on Amaurosis (The Unseen)


DP Luke Palmer wrote in with details about his work on Amaurosis (The Unseen), a psychological thriller dealing with love, loss and obsessive compulsion. The production is the third collaboration between writer/director Gary Sinyor (Leon The Pig Farmer, The Bachelor) and Palmer whose credits include The Fold (2013) and Rise And Fall Of The Krays (2016).

“The 21-day shoot, on-location between Manchester and the Lake District, had a very limited budget, a small key crew of just 12, no lighting crew and no production designer.

Gary and I scouted the Lake District in late autumn for a January shoot. Gary had decided upon the Greythwaite Estate on the banks of Lake Windermere. This included a beautiful Georgian manor house with far-reaching views over Lake Windermere with several holiday cottages right at the water’s edge. The set up of these two main locations and proximity to the lake were perfect. It was key not only for the story arc (a holiday cottage linked to a larger owner’s house), but also for the viewer to believe that the three main characters were completely isolated.

We found a bedroom in the big manor house that could believably stand-in as the main bedroom in the smaller holiday cottage. There were a few key scenes to take place here and it had beautiful metallic wallpaper and a small set of stairs to the en suite bathroom, open on both sides. With no production designer on the film Gary and I just knew, immediately, that this and the natural beauty of the setting, would help immeasurably in our quest for production value.

Amaurosis was shot 1.85:1 on Alexa Mini, ProRes XQ with a set of Zeiss Super Speeds, supplemented with 40mm Ultra Prime and a 300mm Canon lenses, in a basic package supplied by Focus 24. I love the 40mm on faces but wanted something a little more forgiving, and faster, than the UltraPrimes, so I went with the Super Speeds and supplemented with a 40mm Ultra. The Super Speeds have contrast and sharpness but are more forgiving than modern lenses. Their size and speed are great for a small production.

The lighting package was even more lightweight with no lighting crew – two Litegear Litemat4s, two Litegear Litemat2s, two Fomex Flexilights, a selection of practical bulbs and inline dimmers.

The shoot was scheduled for best use of the gentle, wraparound winter light; controlling what was there to give contrast and shape to the scenes. One room, vital to the script, was a dual aspect corner room where a grief stricken Gemma (played by Jasmine Hyde) discovers she is being manipulated by one of the two male characters. A particularly long scene was split over two days to keep the continuity of light coming in through the dual aspect windows with views of Lake Windermere and the mountainous landscape outside.”

Amaurosis is currently having a small cinema release in the US and is available on-demand, following a successful run picking up awards at the Idyllwild Snowdance, West Coast and Horrorhaus film festivals.

 

Issue 96 – November 2019

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