Stephan Pehrsson Interview: ‘Black Mirror: U.S.S. Callister’ cinematographer

Cinematographer Stephan Pehrsson wanted to capture “the different iterations of ‘Star Trek‘” for the “Black Mirror” episode “U.S.S. Callister.” This installment of Charlie Brooker‘s acclaimed anthology series centers on Robert Daly (Jesse Plemmons), a lonely coder who creates a virtual reality video game based on his favorite sci-fi series, casting himself as the dictatorial captain. Cristin Milioti co-stars as Nanette, the beautiful new hire who becomes a digital clone in his imagined universe. Watch our exclusive video interview with Pehrsson above.

“We started off with the classic ’60s look,” Pehrsson explains, referring to the original William Shatner-led version of “Trek.” To do this he used “a 4:3 format with a very static camera” and “Dutch framing.” His lighting also featured “nice eye-light” for Plemmons and “beautiful, glossy frames for the female actors” like Milioti. When Nanette comes aboard “we wanted to have a progression … from this very classic, rigid ’60s style” to the feel “of an adventure movie.” So he turned to the 2009 J.J Abrams reboot of “Trek” for additional inspiration. That section “had to look as slick as any sort of modern Hollywood version of ‘Star Trek.'”

Pehrsson also needed to contrast the real world against the imagined one. “We wanted to feel authentic,” he says. “Still very stylish, but in an environment you could believe as reality.” That affected the sci-fi world as well because “we were sort of mixing it up” when Nanette arrives. “We’re doing fantasy, but there’s a real person experiencing it.”

Pehrsson recently received a BAFTA TV Craft nomination for his work on “U.S.S. Callister.” He has shot episodes of other shows including “Doctor Who,” “Luther,” “The Moorside,” and “X Company.”

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UPLOADED Jul 12, 2018 12:47 pm