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Blossier Sets an Eerie, Evocative Tone for ‘The Returned ‘

A French TV series airing in the U.S. on the Sundance Channel, The Returned (Les Revenants) follows the residents of a small mountain town as the dead start to reappear among the living. Patrick Blossier, AFC, who shot the first season and is currently at work on the second, explains, “Les Revenants is a fantasy series that takes place in a very realistic world. The ghosts are not zombies but human beings like you and me.

L-r: Anne Consigny, Yara Pilartz, Frédéric Pierrot, and Jenna Thiam in

The Returned.

Photo by Jean Claude Lother.

When developing the look for the show with creator and director Fabrice Gobert “Several influences guided us,” Blossier recalls. “Twin Peaks by David Lynch and Let the Right One In by Tomas Alfredson were references, but it was especially the photographic work of Gregory Crewdson that caught our attention. And from that the idea came quite naturally to shoot a lot at dusk and create a disturbing but realistic setting.” (The Returned is also punctuated by very wide shots where the actors are frozen, like in a photograph.)

Blossier used ARRI’s Alexa camera for the series, noting, “Shooting at ‘magic hour’ gave us real production value. Since I’ve been working with Alexa I’ve learned to shoot in very low light. With its 800 ASA sensor (which I treat as 1,200 ASA), Alexa allowed us to shoot all the twilight shots in the series very efficiently and effectively.”