We’re starting work on our next uni project: an 8-minute drama about a jealous AI home assistant who starts causing havoc.
As director of photography, I started by looking for examples of films with similar themes and scenarios. I compiled these examples into a moodboard and used them throughout my cinematography planning.
From Spike Jonze’s Her I learned several effective ways of showing isolation and loneliness – through colour, unbalanced composition and shallow depth of field. This is important for establishing the protagonist, Matthew’s initial loneliness and social anxiety.
From Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey I took the idea of showing the computer’s point of view using a wide-angle lens designed for a smaller sensor size. This technique adds a degree of empathy to an otherwise inanimate character.
My research also inspired me to treat the AI like a character, including it in two-shots (as in Her and Fern) and giving it dedicated close-ups in shot-reverse-shot situations.
From this research I collaborated with the film’s director to create a shot list, using these techniques where they applied. During the location recce, I took the opportunity to experiment with potential framings, taking photographs to make into a storyboard. These photos are a little rushed and some more consideration will have to be put into the framing on the day but they act as a suitable guide.
I am planning to shoot on a Sony A7Rii and I have been conducting tests to see whether I feel confident shooting in s-log2. The process is quite different from shooting linear footage so I will keep practising and see how I feel closer to the time.
Having completed the shot list, I now just need to make floor plans and think through some of the trickier lighting situations (the wide PoV shots will be a particular challenge). I’m excited to get on set and start making this film a reality.