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Recreating Classic Cinema

How often do you get a chance to recreate a scene from the classic Hitchcock movie, "Rebecca"?

Thanks to my creative and playful filmmaker friends, we did just that, the look and feeling of old 35mm

in a digital format. The following is our version:

Rebecca - B Cast 1940 ‧ Drama film/Thriller ‧ 2h 10m

Cast: Christie Grauert-Courville as Mrs. de Winter,

Michael McQuary as Mrs. Danvers

Orignal film still from the movie "Rebecca"

Below is the original film still from the movie that served as our inspiration.

With film directors, Andrew Pritzker of Qikfinger Films, and Kyle Kelley of Century Road to help light, stage, and organize the photo shoot, we were able to capture some very cool shots.

The challenge was to recreate the intent of the scene, Mrs. Danvers attempting to convince Mrs. de Winter to plunge to her death. With limited space and no other props but the actors themselves, we relied on their talent and inspiration.

Knowing this was going to be shot in black & white, my primary concerns as a photographer were light design and background. Because of our limited options, I chose to use my Canon 6D with an aperture of 2.8. This would allow the background to blur out. With proper light on the faces, we could create the drama and expression of the scene.

While Andrew and Kyle were getting the lights in place, I decided to experiment with the beautiful natural light coming through a window. The photo below was of the actors rehearsing the scene while sitting on a couch. The only light we used for this shot was natural sunlight entering from the right. A gold reflector was positioned on the left. Even though the background is a little busy, it doesn't get in the way of the subjects. It does, however; inform the viewer of place. The reflected light fills in just enough to show detail in the shadows.

The second photo is a cropped version of the one above. I love the expression on both actors faces, with the sharp focal point on Mrs. Danvers (Michael McQuary). The wide aperture blurs out Mrs. de Winter (Christie Grauert-Courville) but creates such a cinematic story of it's own.

Once the lights were in place, we were able to shoot the scene as intended. The photo below shows a softer version of the selected scene. To illuminate both faces properly, we used natural light from the window but directed LED light on both their faces. To create a depth in the shallow space of the set, we hid a light in the background to add the illusion of space.

There are always choices to make, even in post production. In the image below, I like the softer, slightly more natural effect, the tonal range from black to white in full spectrum.

I am so delighted to have had this opportunity to work with such creative and skilled artists. What I find so rewarding is the shear fun of working as a team to create a vision, an interpretation of the passion and grace of classic film.

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