The Return

The last Fire Escape Films project I worked on before the COVID-19 pandemic hit! This was a fun one.

Director Corinne Rutledge approached me to work on the project and we shaped the visual style together. I’m a big fan of camera motion, so I advocated for the handheld aesthetic, which we accomplished using a variety of motorized gimbals. All credit for the anime-inspired shots in the confrontation scene goes to Corinne, though – it turned out well despite the cold!

My roles: Director of Photography, Editor, Camera Operator, Gaffer/Grip/Electrical, and Set Construction.

One particular challenge for this project was to create a void for Bonnie to walk through. Inspired by Eleven’s void from Stranger Things, we set out to recreate this look with largely practical effects… on a fraction of the budget. (Not to mention the fact that we weren’t allowed to flood the University’s production studio. Lame.)

We ended up constructing a 270º surround out of blackout drapes affixed to a pipe grid along with just enough lighting to emphasize the effect. Check out some of our behind the scenes photos below – we had a great time climbing around the ceiling to put this all together.

A photo of the completed ‘void’ before we moved gear in, added the mirror, etc. Not bad given we only had a few hours to use the space.
An unedited frame – the effect worked pretty well, even in-camera! We later added color correction and scrubbed out the ropes hanging the mirror.

Written and Directed by Corinne Rutledge for Fire Escape Films
Cinematography and Camera by Alex Emerson 
Starring Alisa Boland and Ellen Askey
Original Score Composed and Recorded by Simon Li
Edited by Alex Emerson and Corinne Rutledge

As with most Fire Escape projects, this is a work-in-progress while we fine-tune it for a film festival run.

We kept a super minimal camera rig for this shoot due to limited time in the space.