“There are three essential sections,” explains “Nocturnal Animals” cinematographer Seamus McGarvey during our recent webcam chat (watch above). The challenge in shooting Tom Ford‘s film was in finding, “graphic threads that run throughout and hopefully knit it together,” so that, “an audience doesn’t feel like they’re spinning out in three different movies.” This Focus Features release stars Amy Adams as Susan, an art gallery owner haunted by her ex-husband’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) violent novel about a man’s desperate search for his wife and daughter’s killer. While reading the book, she reflects on events from her past that led to the breakup of her marriage.
Working alongside production designer Shane Valentino, the director and lenser created, “very large mood boards,” filled with, “color references and stills,” which, “gave a very clear notion of each section.” They also performed camera tests to, “assess the degree to which we could push the look of each section so it would sit comfortably, yet distinctly, from each other, but still feel cohesive.”
One of the subtle ways he linked the visual styles together was by introducing, “horror movie tropes” into the scenes of Susan reading the novel. “We’d shoot from behind with a moving camera to give a sense of perhaps voyeurism,” he explains, “that someone else is watching.” He adds, “that’s a key element in kind of slingshotting you into the disparate parts of the film, the other color elements that are quite distinct.”
McGarvey has received two Academy Award nominations for his work on “Atonement” (2007) and “Anna Karenina” (2012). Will his first Oscar win be next? Check out our full interview above for more about his work on “Nocturnal Animals.”
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