Awards: Independent Spirit Award for “Requiem for a Dream”; Chlotrudis Award for “Pi.”
Tools: “We used Panavision cameras outfitted with standard primes, which are older sets of lenses. We were going for something a little more, for lack of a better word, vintage, because we wanted less resolution. We took great pains to achieve grain, so we shot on Kodak stocks, 5229 specifically,” Libatique says.
Visual references: “We wanted it to be like Werner Herzog’s ‘Wrath of God,’ but compositionally, the artist Moebius was also a huge inspiration for the look of it, from an image standpoint.”
Aesthetic: “Conceptually, we had so much time to create a template and run extensive tests, so we decided to introduce the character in the dark and move him into the brightest white light you could imagine. It represents his quest for immortality, with the white light meaning truth. But it’s about more than just balancing the extreme contrast between light and dark, it’s about light trying to enter this man’s life,” says Libatique, who has collaborated with director Darren Aronofsky on all of his films. “Darren brings the idea and the composition of language. I bring light and movement and the visual score. I also worked very closely with the film’s production designer, James Chinlund, who I had very fluid conversations with about things like symmetry, graphics and light.”
Challenges: “The biggest challenge, from a technical standpoint, was the tree ship. I like to light with the philosophy of realism and naturalism. I wanted to convey what space would be like and what it is like to move in a nebula towards a dying star. At first, the light is realistic and practically motivated, but how do you do that with an image we’ve never seen before? It took a lot from a creative standpoint,” Libatique says.
What’s next: “The Number 23,” a supernatural thriller starring Jim Carrey, due in February; pre-production on “Iron Man.”