The Cinematography Podcast Episode 244: Linus Sandgren

Cinematographer Linus Sandgren believes that films don’t always have to look pretty. “A film should look appropriate for the story we’re telling. It’s about communicating the emotions of the film. And that can be ugly.” For his latest project, Saltburn, the beautiful images counterbalance the evil within the main character, Oliver Quick. Oliver is an outsider at Oxford who grows obsessed with Felix Catton and his friends, who are effortlessly born to power and privilege. Director Emerald Fennell wanted to create a “vampire movie without vampires” due to Oliver’s ability to latch on to Felix and his family.

Linus met with Fennell, who described her vision of the film. She was influenced by the rich colors in Caravaggio paintings, the early vampire film Nosferatu, and Hitchcock movies for suspense and voyeurism. It was important to tell the story as though the viewer is observing the film from a distance, as if it were a painting. To create the language, Linus found images of paintings and photography that were light-specific to put into a lookbook. They chose to shoot on Kodak film that emphasized the red spectrum, and for a portrait style look, Linus shot in the nearly square aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

With the exception of shooting around Oxford University, Saltburn was almost entirely filmed at one estate in Northamptonshire. Linus and the team scouted around the grounds and inside the building, thinking like a painter to decide on shot composition, lighting, furniture placement and blocking for the actors. Outdoors in daylight at the Saltburn estate, it’s summer, so Linus felt inspired by fashion photography, impressionist paintings and the square framing and colors of a Polaroid picture. He captured the Gothic feel of the grounds at night, adding to the suspense of Oliver’s encounter with Felix’s sister Venetia and the showdown he has with Felix in the maze.

Saltburn is currently in theaters.

Find Linus Sandgren: Instagram @linussandgren_dp

Close Focus: Netflix has released its first ever report on viewer’s watch data for the service.

Illya’s short end: A short humorous video, “People Who Film Weddings” by a comedian named Joey Thompson.

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Podcast Credits:

Producer: Alana Kode

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Host and editor in Chief:  Illya Friedman

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Host: Ben Rock

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Editor: Ben Katz

Composer: Kays Al-Atrakchi

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