Cinematographer Aaaron McLisky is thrilled that Talk to Me, a small Australian independent horror film, has found such a huge audience. It has become A24’s highest grossing horror movie in North America. The movie is about a group of friends who discover how to become possessed by spirits with an embalmed hand, creating a thrilling party game. The main character, Mia, has recently lost her mother, and her grief makes the idea of finding her mom on the other side both compelling and dangerous. But soon, the supernatural forces can’t be controlled any longer.
Aaron had heard rumors about the Talk to Me script and was intrigued to find out more about the project when directors Danny and Michael Philippou direct messaged him on Instagram. The twin brothers had no feature film experience, but are self-taught YouTube filmmakers. Their channel, RackaRacka is huge, and features a series of horror/comedy shorts completely shot and edited by Danny and Michael.
During the development and pre-production of Talk to Me, Aaron and the brothers discussed how they wanted the film to look cinematically and frequently workshopped and filmed sequences. Aaron always wants to elevate the story through cinematography, making sure that every frame and every camera movement speaks to a world that’s truthful to the characters. He wanted to be sure that the camera work elevated the tone of the horror movie, by showing or withholding information as needed. As a former editor, Aaron constantly thinks about editing- how certain sequences will go together and how much coverage might really be needed. Once production started, he found it exciting to be bold, keeping coverage of each scene minimal, and confident that they didn’t need more. He kept scenes lit with practical lighting and green fluorescents as much as possible, making Mia seem sickly and possessed. During the possession scenes, Aaron chose to contrast the sequences with unmotivated lighting, and as Mia’s psychological decay progresses, the film subtly becomes darker and more desaturated in the grade.
Aaron was born in Australia but lived in Indonesia for much of his childhood. He fell in love with photography there and knew he wanted to study film, so he returned to Australia. After completing his degree, he got a job at a production company as an editor, eventually moving into directing commercials and music videos, but he didn’t enjoy it. Aaron found he was always more interested in visual images as a storyteller, so he decided to start over as a cinematographer. He was fortunate enough to shoot a music video for YouTube stars, The Bondi Hipsters, who then asked him to be the cinematographer for their television series. Aaron also served as the primary cinematographer of the FX series, Mr. Inbetween.
Talk to Me is still playing in theaters and is available to purchase on VOD.
Find Aaron McLisky: http://aaronmclisky.com/
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