Lensing and Scoring the Brutal Homesman

Tommy Lee Jones hauntingly turns the Western upside down in The Homesman, an exploration of harsh frontier life for women in 19th century Nebraska. The brutal winds were enough to make anyone go insane. Hilary Swank and Jones come together for the oddest of journeys, brilliantly photographed by Rodrigo Prieto with an innovative score by Marco Beltrami.

Using Czech and Japanese photographers Josef Koudelka and Ichiro Kojima as inspiration for conveying textured interiors and harsh weather conditions, the first thing that Prieto did was test with both digital and film cameras. Although Jones conceived and budgeted for digital, they agreed that daytime should be shot on film and nighttime digitally, playing to the strengths of both formats. This isn’t surprising since Prieto is a frequent hybrid lenser.

“The result with the Sony F-55 for low light levels was convenient and beautiful to shoot with candles and oil lamps,” Prieto recalls. “But, on the other hand, we preferred the texture of a film negative for the rest of the movie. And a big part of it was the feeling that film negative gave us. Tommy Lee thought digital was too clean and too contemporary for our interpretation of the Western.”

For the score, Beltrami (Snowpiercer) and associate Buck Sanders went rogue. They created instruments (including an Aeolian wind piano tethered to a water tank) and experimented with recording techniques in their Malibu studio and the nearby Santa Monica mountains to make the wind an integral part of the musical experience.

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, Movies, Music, Oscar, Sound, Tech, Trailers, VFX

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