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Hi everyone,

I have recently watched The Love Witch which was shot by David Mullen, ASC. My wife and I absolutely loved the film. 

On Wikipedia the movie is described as a "comedy horror film" and a "playful tribute to 1960s horror and Technicolor film". 

My question is: Can this movie be described as a Giallo film? If so, why or why not?

The film was shot in "standard 4-perf 35mm 1.85 on an Arricam ST and plan on a photochemical finish, and then a transfer to digital from a timed IP". 

I would love to discuss the approach of shooting a "giallo" film digitally from pre- to post-production / how different the approach/results would have been in this case (The Love Witch).

For example:

  • The use of color (using tungsten and gels vs. RGB LED | speed vs. cost. vs. quality of light etc.)
  • hard-light style with digital sensors (which I don't see that often anymore, but I might be wrong)
  • production design, HMU, costumes
  • in-camera effects (like kaleidoscope lens and gels in front of the lens)
  • filters, mirrors, lenses
  • and more...

P.S. David, I loved reading you creating a red vignette by cutting out an oval in a red party gel and taping it to the matte box. It takes years to build such a solid foundation of knowledge, experience, and confidence to know how to achieve certain results. Are there any more photos or lighting breakdowns from The Love Witch you would be willing to share with us?

Thank you David for sharing so much knowledge and for creating such beautiful art. I am looking forward to grow and learn more about cinematography from you and other masters of cinematography.

Here a a few links I found about the film (very interesting read):





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Hey Tyler,

For example (although this is just a different ASA [ASA 100 vs. "native" ASA 800 on an ALEXA]

David mentioned the following: "I'm shooting most of the movie on the slowest speed tungsten stock available, Kodak Vision-3 200T, rated at 100 ASA in order to get the printer lights up higher for more saturation and contrast.This means I need to get up to 100 foot-candles of key light just to achieve an f/2.8. For day interiors scenes on stage, that's a lot of light and a lot of heat."

But I see your point. I should have rather asked what y'all would like to try out in a Giallo movie. But instead of talking about how to print/process film I wanted y'all to focus on everything else (like lighting, composition, color, in-camera effects). 

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Remember, Love Witch was a photochemical finish, there are a few things you've gotta do in order to insure you get decent color and contrast. With a digital finish, these issues wouldn't be so problematic. You could just light super even which will create a similar look and simply change the contrast in post. 

Giallo movies are more about hard studio lighting, interesting filters/effects, and more creative blocking and composition. I think most of what you see in the Giallo movies are budgetary restrictions which means faster shoots and less labor. I don't think if they had the money, they'd make them the same way. 

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I don't think one should just light flat and somehow create contrast and mood in post.

That hard lighting style was complex because it was often high and frontal for women's faces but more shadowy everywhere else. This requires a lot of flags. You would do the same lighting whether or not you shot in film or digital, but with the higher ISO of digital cameras compared to the slow film stocks of the day, you'd probably use lower-wattage equivalents to what they would have used back then, assuming you wanted a similar depth of field (mostly in the f/2.8-4 range). But in terms of the ket to fill ratio, I'd probably do the same whether shooting in film or digital, but with digital I'd be lighting to a LUT with enough contrast and deep blacks so that I was forced to add fill where I needed it.

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One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of the hard lighting back then was done with fresnel units, so if you wanted to use LED instead of tungsten, keep that in mind and look for fresnel LED’s for any frontal key lighting or shadow-making effects. Matters less for backlights or big lights far away, or anything to be softened.

As for color, just watch out for letting your LED’s get over-saturated when doing color effects — some let you desaturate the effect.

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