The Cinematography Podcast Episode 172: Chloe Okuno and Benjamin Kirk

Watcher is a psychological thriller about a young actress, Julia, who has just moved to Romania from the U.S. with her boyfriend. A serial killer is on the loose in the city, and Julia begins to feel like she is being followed and watched from the apartment across the street. She has trouble convincing her boyfriend and the police that she’s being stalked, and the film builds on her increasing sense of dread.

Director Chloe Okuno and DP Benjamin Kirk Nielsen first met at American Film Institute, and collaborated on their thesis film, a short horror movie called Slut. They both believe in extensive organization, preparation, shotlisting and planning for their projects. Chloe was hired to direct Watcher in 2017, and it took some time to get the movie off the ground. They ended up shooting in Romania during the summer of 2021 under strict COVID protocols. Chloe liked that the script was a simple thriller that could be told from one character’s point of view. Chloe and Benjamin looked at Rosemary’s Baby, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and David Fincher films Seven and Gone Girl as references to impart the sense of terror Julia feels. Benjamin wanted to find a simple, straightforward way to portray Julia’s isolation in a foreign city as her fear escalates. He chose to start with longer camera focal lengths and longer shots, then progressively move closer and closer as the Watcher creeps closer and closer to Julia.

Watcher premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is currently playing in theaters.

Chloe Okuno: Twitter @cokuno_san

Benjamin Kirk Nielsen: Instagram: @b_kirk

Close Focus: The Disney film Lightyear is being denied release in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Malaysia and Indonesia due to a kiss between a lesbian couple in the animated movie.

Ben’s short end: Dall-E is an AI system trained to generate pictures from text prompts using machine learning. It’s still in the testing phase, but a new website, Dall-E Mini, has a free version of the software open to the public, and you can type in your own descriptions for all the nightmare fuel images you’d ever want to make.

Illya’s short end: The new Laowa 24mm T14 2X Macro Periprobe Lens is now available from Hot Rod Cameras. The Periprobe is a 90 degree front optical piece that rotates, creating many opportunities to shoot in all different directions. With a full-frame macro lens, the Periprobe can get extremely close-up and is even waterproof.

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Sponsored by DZOFilm: The Catta Ace Lenses by DZOFilm are a pair of very affordable, high quality zoom lenses ranging from 35-80mm and 70-135mm. Available now from Hot Rod Cameras.

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Instagram: @thecinepod

Twitter: @ShortEndz


Podcast Credits:

Producer: Alana Kode

All web and social media content written by Alana Kode

Host and editor in Chief:  Illya Friedman

Instagram: @illyafriedman @hotrodcameras

Host: Ben Rock

Twitter: @neptunesalad

Instagram: @bejamin_rock

Editor: Ben Katz

Composer: Kays Al-Atrakchi

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