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‘Swiss Army Man’ DP Larkin Seiple on Turning an Absurd Premise Into a Thing of Beauty

"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?'"

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.

Read the full story here.

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