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Netflix’s The Mess You Leave Behind Uses Cooke S7/i Full Frame Plus Lenses

December 22, 2020 06:21 | By
Cooke S7

The Mess You Leave Behind (Netflix)

The Netflix Spanish original 8-episode mini-series, The Mess You Leave Behind,  hit the streamer on December 11. It began its life as a novel written by Director Carlos Montero, who while writing the novel, contacted his Cinematographer Isaac Vila to let him know that sit will be adapted into a mini-series.

Vila, a frequent user of Cooke lenses and having already shot his last two films with the Cooke S7/i Full Frame Plus lenses knew their range that would come in handy for his next project with Montero. The S7/i Full Frame Plus lenses would allow him to achieve “a sharp, subtle and smooth rendering to create magical scenery” to capture all of the scenery of the series that would involve fog, humidity and more.

Montero’s story follows Raquel, a literature teacher who takes a substitute position in a small town in the interior of Galicia. She soon finds out that her predecessor, Elvira, committed suicide, but as Raquel gets more involved with those who knew Elvira, the truth about her death becomes murkier. A thriller unfolds amidst themes of personal loss, grief and guilt.

Montero directed the first two episodes of the mini-series, joined by Silvia Quer for episodes 3, 4 and 5 with Roger Gual directing episodes 6, 7 and 8. Vila  shot episodes 1,2,6,7 and 8, while David Valldepérez filmed episodes 3, 4 and 5 with both cinematographers using the same camera kits.

Vila describes the challenge, “On the one hand, the script and cast (featuring Spanish actresses Inma Cuesta and Barbara Lennie) called for close-up shots that would follow the characters throughout. On the other hand, the whole series would be shot across different locations, including small and narrow buildings in smaller towns, requiring small equipment,” commented Vila. “To overcome both aspects, we decided to use two sets of cameras to capture the different dialogue shots and then required a small structure on the equipment end to be able to have two cameras fit in the small and intimate shots, turning to the Alexa Mini LF for both kits.”

Vila also praised the lenses for their versatility.  “The aim was to achieve a consistent smooth and natural image that would help bring the landscape into a life of its own, which immediately inspired the Cooke Look®. The lenses played a crucial role when transforming the landscape into a character in itself. For example, one of the most iconic shots from the series, that also highlights the role that the lenses played, comes from a scene shot in a natural thermal bath in Ourense. The hot water coming from the mountain and through the stones created a vapour that, combined with the perfect weather conditions and the lenses’ soft edges, created an almost magical and dreamlike scenery, which contribute to the mystery behind the scene.”

“Carlos Montero had always imagined the scenes of his novel taking place at his own childhood school although when describing the locations that he wanted, he always opted for more modern looks and insisted his school would not be an option,” Vila explains, “However, one day we wondered around the town where he was raised and suggested a visit to his school. The place was beautiful, with marvelous arcades, two beautiful cloisters, an interior garden…it was perfect. I could tell that Carlos had enjoyed the visit and could see the story taking place at his school as it is what he had been imagining. Speaking to Art Director Carlos Bodelón, we then managed to break into the vintage looks with some modern decorations, creating a contrast that looks perfect on camera.”

The look of the series develops along with the plot as what starts as a drama gradually becomes a thriller.

The Mess You Leave Behind is now streaming on Netflix.