Director Scott Derrickson and cinematographer Scott Kevan recently relied on Sony‘s F55 and F65 4K cameras to lens Screen Gems’ Deliver Us from Evil, which opened last weekend.
Based on the experiences of former NYPD officer Ralph Sarchie, who uses his police skills to uncover the work of the demonic world, the new horror/thriller was shot on location in The Bronx and throughout New York City, Abu Dhabi and the Liwa Desert and in California.
The director’s intent was to take viewers into dark places. In fact, audiences are first introduced to the main character – played by Eric Bana – in a dark, rainy alley on tough streets of The Bronx.
“The Sony F65s and F55s allowed us to enter into darkness like never before,” said Derrickson. “Shooting through rain, we were not only able to pick up The Bronx city lights in the deep background, (something film would never be able to do), but we were able to set a single light on a distinctively Bronx building a good ¼ mile away to create an especially ‘Bronxy’ master image.”
“The Sony 4K cameras allowed us to make The Bronx a character in our film with minimal lighting adjustments,” Derrickson added. “On film, the look we achieved to tell the story would have been virtually impossible.”
According Kevan, the movie’s visual style needed to reflect a combination of the reality of being a cop in New York mixed with paranormal encounters.
Since lighting is a key contributor to the film’s mood, the team relied on the Sony cameras’ ability to work well in varying light conditions – or hardly any light at all.
Kevan and his crew used several F55s and one F65, with a lens package consisting of Panavision‘s PVintage lenses. He noted the cameras’ low light capabilities and ergonomics really helped him capture the look he wanted.
“We were thrilled with the image quality and the emotional imprint that the images from the Sony cameras left on us,” said Kevan, “especially the F55, with its ability to dig into the shadows and the soft quality of the lenses. At the same time it maintained a contrast that we liked without getting washed out on the low end. Additionally, the ergonomics of the F55 worked for what we wanted to do because we were planning a good amount of handheld work, a bit of Steadicam, and we were in rather tight spaces. It was a location-based shoot in basements and places where the ceilings were less than six feet high at times.”
The team also used Sony OLED monitors on set, and recorded to Sony’s AXS-R5 recorder. The postproduction and digital intermediate process was completed at Sony’s ColorWorks facility in Culver City, Calif.
According to Screen Gems president of production Glenn Gainor, Sony F55 and F65 cameras have become workhorses for the studio’s recent productions.
“Currently, the two cameras that can do what we need are the Sony F65 and F55,” Gainor said. “It’s undeniable that digital handles the absence of light better than film. Digital can pick up details in the darkest of dark images because its noise threshold is so much lower than film.
“There is storytelling going on in the exposure aspects of movies. It’s the sensitivity to light that is the main game changer,” he added. “It’s getting into a nightclub and using existing lights. It’s getting onto streets without redefining the lighting that already exists.”
According to Gainor, the real test of the new 4K technologies’ place in production is whether or not they serve the story.
“The important question is this: Is the story told better captured in analog or digital?” he said. “I’ve helped filmmakers shoot on location all over the world with 4K cameras. We’ve gotten into places that were off limits to film cameras and shot with the least amount of light available, embracing low light sensitivity, rather than pouring in more light with traditional HMI’s that would require generators and cables, and so on.”
He added, “4K digital cameras have allowed us to capture scenes in a living room with daylight coming through the window in the background while we’re trying to capture the actors at a table. We can lighten images, darken them, zoom in on them, focus attention to certain parts of the frame, by use of power windows in post.”
Deliver Us from Evil is the studio’s 4th 4K production, joining other recent titles including Think Like a Man, Too and About Last Night, and upcoming pics No Good Deed and The Wedding Ringer.