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Cinematographer’s Journal

Emmanuel Lubezki on 'Sleepy Hollow'

“To get the effect we needed to achieve, we used a lot of stuff that I had never used, or used to such a degree before. We had smoke all the time and soft lighting. First of all, Tim Burton is a great director and one who is involved in all of the photographic decisions with me and with the production designer in the look of the film. To prepare, he had me see a bunch of Hammer horror pictures as well as these Mexican horror wrestling pictures from the 1950s and ’60s.

“He’s an incredible author — Tim Burton. We prepared for many months and shot most of it in an English warehouse studio. Then we built Sleepy Hollow outside. One of the big challenges was to get a consistent look between the warehouse and outside. Some elements gave us this homogenic look, mostly smoke — we used a lot of smoke. We used lighting effects to increase the dynamic energy of the Headless Horseman.

“Every little decision adds and adds. We used only a wide-angle lens and increased the contrast of the film stock in postproduction. All of these little decisions combined to make the style. We walked a thin line between making it believable and making it fantastic. Then, there are things you just can’t get without those actors. Johnny [Depp] and Christina [Ricci] created this world, too, with Tim.”

— Emmanuel Lubezki, cinematographer, “Sleepy Hollow.” Films include “Meet Joe Black,” “Great Expectations” (1997), “The Bird Cage,” “A Little Princess” and “A Walk in the Clouds.”

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