The heavy sun beats down, the sky burns a deep orange and the heat sears the landscape. So bright is the hot light that the only reprieve is the dark sweaty shadows of indoors. This is what Bonnie Elliott’s apocalypse looks like, a harsh beautiful end to the world in Australian feature film These Final Hours.
AnyCameraWillDo sat down with DOP Bonnie Elliott to talk about constructing the look of the apocalypse in Australian feature film These Final Hours. Bonnie sites her start at UTS where she had the opportunity to experiment on many short films with a Bolex film camera as the beginning of the look used in the film. The Bolex she used at UTS had a filter slot, which allowed her to cut out small gel filters from a swatch book and put them behind the lens. It was this process along with working with the very unforgiving work print that led to the range of mistakes, pleasant surprises and plethora of learning experience that built her knowledge that she brought to bear on These Final Hour.
These Final Hours Trailer:
Director Zak Hilditch had a clear vision for the film He wanted to start the film yellow and move through orange and finally finish with a red hue. This visual direction led Bonnie to do a lot of experimentation with glass filters in front of the lens including filters with names such as ‘Apricot’, ‘Tabaco’ and ‘Antique Suede’. These days with the option to do so much in the grading suite it’s unusual to shoot so much of the film with such an effect in camera. But if the film is going to be pushed in that direction in the grade why not do it in camera and save time? Not only does it save time, but creating the look in camera has a very different effect and a very different feel Bonnie says. The DOP describes the way the light is affected by the Apricot filter with the color, the light and the smoke as something that you just cant achieve with a grade.
Bonnie Elliott on These Final Hours:
Fighting the Sun
Perth proved to be a harsh place to shoot with very little cloud cover. This provided the These Final Hours crew with a consistent light situation but required the DOP to embracing the Australian sun and use the harsh, sharp midday light to help form the look of the film and tell the story. To extend this look to the indoors Bonnie used large light sources, lighting the indoors from outside giving a strong sense of heat permeating the darker space.
These Final Hours was shot over 5 weeks, making use of extensive preplanning and preparation. Although there was certainly a space for adlibbing the film was executed closely to the original planned look.
The film is about the end of the world through the humanity of the people involved not about special effects. It is a complicated film about how people react to their own mortality. To this end the visual decisions, though unusual, really were right choice for the story. Bonnie Elliot certainly live up to her own advice “Don’t be afaird to be bold”.
Be sure to check out These Final Hours on DVD, Bluray or VOD.