'The Love Witch' DP Explains How 'Marnie' and 'The Birds' Influenced the Film's Retro Look

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In the latest episode of the

American Cinematographer Podcast


The Love Witch

cinematographer M. David Mullen explains shooting the stylized horror film on 35mm film, and working to create a specific 1960s aesthetic.

Says Mullen, "[Director Anna Biller] showed me a lot of movies. She gave me a big stack of DVDs to watch. The trick with that was they varied quite a bit in look. Some of them were '60s New Wave-ish films where the lighting was a bit more naturalistic, others were more classic Hollywood studio films. Some were American B-movies of the '60s which were trying to emulate the studio films without the money. So they varied quite a bit in production value and lighting style. So my job was partly to figure out what in those movies Anna liked, whether it was just a mood or an actual specific camera angle or lighting element or color scheme. Her preference goes back earlier than '60s/'70s films in terms lighting preferences. They tend to be more '40s/'50s-oriented when it was almost all hard lighting...One of our key references for this film was


by Hitchcock and also

The Birds

, which are back-to-back films, the last two shot by Robert Burks, ASC. And there's a mix of hard and soft lighting in


. Mostly hard, but you could see Hitchcock experimenting with softer lighting techniques that he would then employ in

Torn Curtain

right after that."

Listen to the full podcast here.



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