In the world of independent filmmaking, Nancy Schreiber is to cinematography what Parker Posey is to acting — ubiquitous, talented and multifaceted.
A product of the New York crew ranks, she gained distinction in 1994 with an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her lensing of the erotic thriller “Chain of Desire.” Her body of work exhibits versatility in the realm of documentaries (“Visions of Light,” “The Celluloid Closet” and “Forever Hollywood”) and features (“Thicker Than Blood,” “Your Friends and Neighbors” and “Lush Life”).
Given Schreiber’s indie scene pedigree, it is fitting that she should shoot “Book of Shadows,” a follow-up to the micro-budgeted blockbuster “The Blair Witch Project.” “Blair 2” director Joe Berlinger knew Schreiber originally from Maysles Films, and subsequently his award-winning docs “Paradise Lost” and “Revelations: Paradise Lost 2.” She came to be his first and only choice.
Though the “Blair Witch” is defined by its pseudo-documentary style, Schreiber’s experience in verite cinema is not what qualified her for “Book of Shadows.”
“Nancy is a master of light and I wanted to create lots of rich shadow detail in ‘Book of Shadows,'” Berlinger says. “I also used lots of mixed media (including DigiBeta video), and Nancy runs the full gamut — she can pick up the camera and do handheld, available light, 16mm shots as well as beautifully lit 35mm cinematography, and we have all of that in this movie.”
Marking one of her highest-budgeted films to date, the $13 million sequel definitely whetted the cinematographer’s appetite for larger-scale projects.
“‘Blair Witch’ certainly has more name recognition than some of my other movies,” admits Schreiber. “And I’ve often opted to go with lower-budget films because I liked the script, the director or the actors. But I’ve always found it ironic that people will give you a movie based on the budget of your last one.
“It’s easier to do a larger movie — you have more days, more equipment and a larger crew. Having more time to light would be a great joy. Making a movie look good when you have only 30 or 40 days — and come in on time and on budget — now that’s a feat.”