Swiss Army Man cinematographer Larkin Seiple and directors The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) talk to American Cinematographer about turning their absurdist dramedy–about a castaway who befriends a flatulent corpse–into a meditation on life, love, and loneliness and how the visuals contributed to that.
“The initial thesis [of Swiss Army Man] was, ‘What if we made a movie that had the stupidest premise ever, and made it the most beautiful thing we possibly could?’” says Scheinert “We wanted this to be a celebration of beauty and life, and meanwhile the content would be constantly subversive, weird and unpredictable. We gave Larkin that open-ended assignment, and that led to our concerted effort to location-scout more intensely than we ever had before, and get the nicest lenses we’d ever shot on.”
“Ultimately, the approach to avoid the feeling of a slapstick comedy was to let it be raw and underexpose it,” Seiple adds, “and to shoot anamorphic to break it up and give it a texture. We love the work [cinematographer] Tim Orr did on All the Real Girls; there’s a beautiful naturalism with anamorphic lenses. For the more fantastical sequences, we referenced the vibrant colors and dynamic camera movement of Dean Cundey [ASC] on earlier Spielberg films like Hook or Jurassic Park.”
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