Richard Vialet interview: ‘P-Valley’ cinematographer

As cinematographer Richard Vialet and showrunner Katori Hall discussed how to approach the visuals for the Starz series “P-Valley,” major attention was placed upon retaining the agencies and boldness of the female characters who populate the show’s fictional strip club.

“The priority for all of us — it was a really big deal to not present the show from the male perspective and from the male gaze,” Vialet says during the Gold Derby Meet the Experts: Cinematographers panel. “We really wanted to go with the female gaze a lot. That’s something Katori kept mentioning and it’s something — especially being a man myself, I was fortunate enough that they thought I would do a good enough job with this — that I felt even more of responsibility [to get right] as well. Just knowing I am a man and I have a male gaze, just making sure that didn’t come through in a way I didn’t want. I felt a strong responsibility to make sure I really told it from the female gaze.”

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Set in a fictional Mississippi town, Hall envisioned “P-Valley” as a kind of “delta noir.” For Vialet, that meant researching all kinds of film noir movies, with special attention paid to those projects that best visualized scorching temperatures.

“I remember looking at ‘Body Heat.’ It’s a noir that takes place in Florida. They used a lot of reflectivity on skin and a lot of sweat and it really felt hot,” he says. “Which was something a little extra. That’s something we wanted to use. I wanted to get reflectivity and specularity in the actors’ skins. Because the skin tones were very different and I wanted to highlight that a lot.”

The first season of “P-Valley” was praised for how it centered the stories of sex workers, women historically treated poorly by film and television shows. That was no accident, Vialet explains.

“We wanted this to give these workers back their agency,” Vialet says. “Even though there is a sexual component to it, we wanted to treat it as what it is, which is a sport and a job as well too.”

Watch the exclusive video interview with Vialet interview above.

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UPLOADED May 24, 2021 5:42 pm