The Cinematography Podcast Episode 189: Eric Branco

The new Showtime series Let the Right One In expands on the ideas introduced in the now-classic 2008 Swedish horror movie and the American remake. A man, Mark Kane (Demián Bichir) and his tween daughter, Ellie (Madison Taylor Baez) move in to a New York City apartment, where she befriends the lonely, bullied boy down the hall. But she has a huge secret that her father helps her keep- she is a child vampire who must survive on blood and can’t go outside in the daytime. The series Let The Right One In explores the relationships and conflicts within families, the horror of vampires, and brings in new characters, crimes and mysteries to add layers to the story.

Cinematographer Eric Branco had seen the original Let The Right One In, shot by legendary DP Hoyte van Hoytema, as well as the American version, Let Me In, lensed by none other than Greig Fraser, and it remains one of Eric’s favorite movies. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to bring his own look and feel to the story and make it his own. Eric focused on the idea that for the young vampire girl, the indoors is safe and the outdoors is not, so the home features very warm light with lots of yellows, while outside is a shadowy, cool blue and green. He also played with the natural contrast of light between night and day. At night, it was important to play up the danger and horror elements with action taking place in shadows and tunnels, with yellow streetlights selectively showing bits and pieces, building suspense.

Let The Right One In is much wider in scope than the movies, featuring many other storylines and locations, which created its own challenges. Eric and the crew had to work within the time constraints for the child actors, especially at night. Planning, blocking and rehearsal became an essential part of some shoot days. When they were shooting the pilot, they had to wait until dark, during the summer solstice- the longest day of the year. That left them with about 2 ½ hours to shoot with the lead actress, Madison Taylor Baez. The most challenging day for Eric was when they did a night shoot at Coney Island with very limited time on the Wonder Wheel with the actors. He and the camera department planned extensively and strategically placed cameras all over to cover all of the action, after several scouts and extensive rehearsals before dark. Eric says that when you have to work with that many cameras and with so much riding on timing and coordination, it becomes more like a team sport and it feels amazing to pull it all off. Eric also likes to have an open, trusting relationship with the actors and let them have more freedom of movement within the frame to explore their characters and enhance their performances. Eric thinks the trust is built on the DP’s end, especially when you’re shooting something in an unconventional way like on Let The Right One In.

Let The Right One In is currently on Showtime.

Find Eric Branco: Instagram @ericbranco

Hear Eric’s previous interview on The Cinematography Podcast

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