Tools: Arricam, two studio and one lightweight model. “It was shot in Super 35 to achieve the widescreen format by using spherical lenses,” says Calvache. “As a consequence, the original image from the negative has to be blown up, to fill the wider-screen format. That means that the grain structure of the film stock becomes more critical.” Film stocks included Eastman Kodak 5205, 5217, 5229, 5274, 5218 and 5229, each pertinent to specific lighting conditions.
Aesthetic: “I love natural light and always try to maximize the available natural light, especially if it helps the scene,” Calvache says. “We wanted this film to feel unquestionably real, and I tried to stick to this realism in my lighting, specifically during day scenes. As the movie progresses into more dramatic tones, we allowed ourselves to open the style of the movie into a more elaborate visual palette, specifically as the scenes start taking place at night.”
Visual references: During pre-production, director Todd Field referred Calvache to Gregory Crewdson’s photography book “Twilight.” Crewdson’s work depicted sad states of suburbia shot at dusk. “We didn’t use it as a visual bible, though,” says Calvache. “Once we started shooting, it was the mood of the scene and the logic of the location that influenced how we lit and shot it.”
Challenges: “Working with two very young children. We tried to hide equipment and crew from them with black-and-white walls, so they wouldn’t get distracted,” says Calvache.
“Working with them gave us a kind of documentarian humbleness; while they were on the set, they were the most important subjects, and we had to be ready to shoot no matter what,” adds the L.A. resident who hails from Spain. “But all those challenges were worth it. As soon as we would get the right performance, it was like magic.”