Based on the famous 1986 Stephen King novel, New Line Cinema’s horror thriller IT, directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama), focuses on seven young outcasts called the “the Losers’ Club” who share similar sensibilities. Each of them has been isolated growing up, surrounded by the terror of bullies, useless parents and an apathetic community.
Set in the small town of Derry, Maine, the terrifying entity known as It (who often appears as a disturbing clown) takes the shape of each child’s specific fear. Banding together over one horrifying yet exhilarating summer, the Losers Club set a goal to end a new killing cycle that began on a rainy day, with a small boy named Georgie chasing a paper boat down a storm drain…and into the hands of Pennywise the Clown.
The creative team included director of photography, Chung-Hoon Chung (Oldboy), production designer, Claude Paré (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), editor, Jason Ballantine (Mad Max: Fury Road), costume designer, Janie Bryant (TV’s “Mad Men”), and hair and makeup artists, Linda Dowds (Crimson Peak, TV’s “True Detective”) and Sarah Craig, (Molly’s Game, Silent Hill,), just to name a few.
The craftspeople especially rose to the challenges in this vehicle, specifically the hair and makeup artists. Emmy Award winner Linda Dowds and Sarah Craig went about modernizing Pennywise’s style to reflect the anxieties of Generation X, once the filmmakers decided to change the timeframe of the story from the 1950s to the 1980s. Dowds and Craig, along with a team of 26 hair and makeup artists were able to capitalize on this current Pennywise’s bizarre theatricality. Muschietti recounted, “Pennywise’s wall-eyed appearance was something I had in mind from early on—I wanted him to have this crazy look where one of the eyes is going in a different direction, the opposite of cross-eyed. Dowd’s and Craig’s sculptors and craftspeople were able to give Pennywise his disturbing look and essence. Turning Skarsgård’s blue eyes to yellow—that, the director revealed, “We did have to do in post.”
Cinematographer, Chung-Hoon Chung, perhaps best known for his collaboration with director Chan-wook Park on the cult favorite movie, Oldboy, a gritty action revenge story, infamous for its horror scenes was handpicked by the director to capture the new R-rated version of Stephen King’s eerie aesthetic. “Chung is an artist who goes for a surrealistic element, which is something I wanted to bring to the equation,” Muschietti added.
The Korean DP made his American debut with Stoker in 2013, starring Nicole Kidman (also directed by Park), and reunited with Park on the feature film The Handmaiden as recently as 2016. Chung also lensed the teenage drama Me and Earl and the Dying Girl for director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, with whom he re-teamed on the upcoming project, The Current War. Most recently, the talented cinematographer wrapped production on Hotel Artemis, directed by Drew Pearce, starring academy award winner Jodie Foster.
Chung has also received acclaim for his work on such films as Lady Vengeance, I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK and Thirst. His unique sensibility and capability to depict irreality throughout his work is what first led Muschietti to become his long-time fan. The director knew Chung’s collaboration would be integral to the success of IT, and especially the villain’s first on stage reveal. “That first appearance of Pennywise is intriguing and charismatic, but at the same time, you know there’s something wrong about him. But he’s also shrouded in a kind of magic that is quite unsettling,” said the director. Through the synergistic efforts of the experienced cinematographer and creative team, the filmmakers were indeed able to bring Pennywise’s unique form of unearthly terror to fruition.
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