The Cinematography Podcast Episode 215: Laura Merians Gonçalves
We welcome our returning guest, cinematographer Laura Merians Gonçalves.
Laura was extremely intrigued to work on the new Prime Video series, Dead Ringers. The show is based on the 1988 David Cronenberg movie, which starred Jeremy Irons as twin gynecologists. When she read the script for the series, Laura thought changing the genders of the twins to female gave the show more interest. She liked that over six episodes, they could explore a deeper, more complicated story about women. Laura shot the bulk of the series, episodes three, four, five and six.
Both Laura and DP Jody Lee Lipes, who shot episodes one and two, worked closely together to share ideas and find the look of the show. There is a restraint to the color palette, with the exception of red as a theme- just as in the movie. They used red scrubs and even red latex gloves in the operating rooms. The style of the show is very stark and elegant, making it easier to cleanly insert the twinning shots.
The biggest challenge for Dead Ringers was ensuring that the twinning for actor Rachel Weisz was seamless and convincing. Jody had previous experience shooting twin shots with VFX supervisor Eric Pascarelli on the HBO series I Know This Much Is True. For Dead Ringers, the twinning shots were done with the assistance of an old motion control camera system that actually used floppy disk drives. Anything involving twinning was discussed in advance and carefully planned and blocked. A body double, Kitty Hawthorne, was also essential for the twinning effect to work. Rachel would do rehearsals and then takes for side A, with Kitty miming the other twin. Then they would switch and do side B, with Kitty now mimicking the A side twin. The motion control camera exactly synched the camera so that the scene could be composited seamlessly together in post. (Learn more about the twinning process on Dead Ringers here.)
Laura found that with the real-time movie magic they were able to create, it was easy to forget that actor Rachel Weisz was actually just one person. She is a huge fan of motion control and doing things technically in camera, rather than relying on special effects in post. The actor can be invested in their performance as their character and they don't have to have a face replacement or deep fake special effect.
Dead Ringers is currently streaming on Prime Video.
Find Laura Merians Gonçalves: Instagram: @lauramelodygoncalves
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