How can a director supervise his film’s post-production if he’s in jail?
Cinematographer Pawel Edelman faced exactly that situation last fall as he sat in a quiet, dark suite in Paris with color timer Fabien Pascal, adjusting the look of Summit Entertainment’s “The Ghost Writer” while helmer Roman Polanski sat in a Swiss prison.
And how can that same director, who won’t travel to the U.S. for fear of arrest and incarceration, create an American-looking Martha’s Vineyard when shooting in Europe?
Production designer Albrecht Konrad faced that challenge during the film’s production in Germany.
Despite these obstacles, Edelman and Konrad were able to create the bleak and dreary look that Polanski wanted for the film — a look that required a lot of ingenious location scouting in Germany and much finessing in post to maintain a uniformly dull, even light.
“The whole idea was to keep everything overcast, rainy and gray,” says Edelman, who also worked with Polanski on “The Pianist” and “Oliver Twist.” Much of the shooting took place on the windswept German island of Sylt in the North Sea. “Cold and miserable weather was a key element. We filmed (outdoors) when the weather was with us; when it was sunny we moved to shoot interiors” on sets at Babelsberg studios near Berlin.
“It worked,” adds Konrad, who scouted all the film’s locations, “but sometimes it was the wrong bad weather — too snowy, and in the end it started to become spring, so a lot had to be replaced in post.”
Despite Polanski’s absence, Edelman maintained a long-distance dialogue with the helmer from Paris as he adjusted color and supervised vfx shots. “Even though Roman couldn’t be with us, we were able to send him samples of things we’d done, so he had a chance to see our work, but it wasn’t easy to present him a good-quality picture.”
Despite these handicaps, “The Ghost Writer” offers the perfect canvas for its grim, nihilistic story. Edelman, shooting on 35mm, created practically monochromatic images that reflect the story’s menacing atmosphere. Konrad built a glass-walled, sterile house on the seacoast that both exposes and conceals its shadowy inhabitants.
“The Ghost Writer” — a political thriller starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall and Olivia Williams — is also a dark meditation on exile, a central fact of the director’s life. Brosnan plays a Tony Blair-like former British prime minister trying to shore up his tarnished reputation by channeling it into an approved book — not unlike what Polanski tries to do with this film. In “The Ghost Writer,” as in Polanski’s life, the plan ends with an unexpected twist.
Bookings & Signings
Recent agent-less editor bookings: Bonnie Koehler on Syfy’s “Eureka,” Jane Levy on CBS’ “The Defenders,” John Duffy on NBC pilot “The Cape” and Jim Ruxin on WE’s “Raising Sextuplets.” Marty Shapiro Management has booked editor Stuart Bass on ABC pilot “Funny in Farsi” and NBC’s “The Pink House.”
Vfx supervisor Richard Edlund (“Alien”) has returned to Marsh, Best. Agency has booked vfx supervisor Jason Piccioni on Cliff Dorfman’s “Criminal Empire for Dummies”; exec producer Barbara A. Hall on Joe Wright’s “Hanna”; costume designer Sharen Davis on CBS pilot “ATF”; and production designers Wynn Thomas on TBS pilot “Insecurity,” Kalina Ivanov on NBC pilot “Justice” and Dante Ferretti on Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo Cabret.”
Murtha Agency d.p. bookings: John Aronson on Etienne Huet’s “The Hunters” and ABC pilot “Matadors,” Gabriel Beristain on CBS pilot “Hawaii Five-O,” Robbie Greenberg on ABC pilot “Body of Evidence,” Nathan Hope on CBS pilot “The Odds,” Peter Levy on NBC Pilot “The Rockford Files,” Brian Pearson on Patrick Lussier’s “Drive Angry,” Nicola Pecorini on Anubhav Sinha’s “Ra One,” Bill Roe on ABC’s “Castle,” John Seale on Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s “The Tourist,” Yasu Tanida on Disney Channel’s “The Wannabes.”
Murtha has booked production designers William Elliott on Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer’s “L.A. Art Show” and on James Gunn’s “Super,” Mark Friedberg on HBO’s “Mildred Pierce,” Jess Gonchor on Ethan and Joel Coen’s “True Grit,” Marcia Hinds on ABC movie “Revenge of the Bridesmaids,” Andrew Jackness on ABC pilot “Off the Map,” Anastasia Masaro on Fox pilot “Breakout Kings” and Keith Neely on TNT’s “Dark Blue”; art director Guy Barnes on CBS pilot “The Odds”; and editor Richard Francis-Bruce on Robert Luketic’s “Five Killers.”
Montana Artists has signed 1st a.d.’s Hillary Schwartz (“United States of Tara”) and Jessie Nye (“Welcome to the Rileys”); d.p.’s Anghel Decca (“Entourage”) and David Robert Jones (“Answers to Nothing”); production designer Russell Barnes (“The Best and The Brightest”); and costume designers Lynn Falconer (“Straw Dogs”) and Christie Wittenborn (“Me and You and Everyone We Know”).
Montana bookings: producer Tracey Jeffrey as UPM on Fox pilot “Wilde Kingdom”; 1st a.d. Vincent Lascoumes on Justin Lin’s “Fast Five”; 2nd unit d.p.’s Jimmy Lindsey on Patrick Lussier’s “Drive Angry 3D” and Igor Meglic on Justin Lin’s “Fast Five”; and d.p.’s Jim Bagdonas on Fox pilot “Traffic Light,” Scott Williams on USA’s “Psych,” Bruce Finn on Fox pilot “Strange Brew,” Bing Sokolsky on CW pilot “Nomads,” and Ben Kutchins on Gavin Wiesen’s “Homework.”
Innovative Artists has booked d.p. Harlan Bosmajian on Henry Miller’s “Occupant”; production designers Tony Cowley on CW pilot “Nomads” and Richard Berg on Fox pilot “Traffic Light”; and costume designers Linda Bass on Fox pilot “Nevermind Nirvana pilot” and Sandra Hernandez on Dito Montiel’s “Son of No One.”