DP Sandra Valde-Hansen Created a Lynchian ‘Sex and the City’ in ‘Now Apocalypse’

IndieWire | 6/3/2019 | Staff
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Often with low-budget filmmaking, the tendency is to reach for cinematography with a realistic look that’s rooted in the use of natural light sources. That description, though, has never applied to indie legend Gregg Araki and it certainly didn’t apply to his first foray into a TV, “Now Apocalypse.” It was something cinematographer Sandra Valde-Hansen discovered working with Araki on two features, “Kaboom” and “White Bird in a Blizzard.”

“I was two years out of AFI and getting the opportunity to work for Gregg opened up my visual world,” said Valde-Hansen, who appear who appeared at IndieWire’s Consider This FYC Brunch. “He introduced me to a world where, given the limited resources, we can actually play with color and light and still come under budget and limited time frame.”

Valde-Hansen - Doc-realism - Approach - Street - Photographers

While Valde-Hansen, who was mentored in more of a doc-realism approach to cinematography, had always used her favorite street photographers for references, Araki is visually inspired by high-end fashion photography, which played a particularly important role in establishing the look of his 10 episode series for Starz.

“For ‘Now Apocalypse’ Gregg wanted to create two different worlds within the same show,” said Valde-Hansen. “He wanted things to be bright and poppy and saturated and glowing. We called this the ‘Sex and the City’ world and I took references from high-end fashion magazines that incorporated color, [the work of photographers] like Steven Klein and Mario Testino.”

Valde-Hansen - Jokes - Show - Cast - 20-somethings

Valde-Hansen jokes that with the show’s beautiful cast playing 20-somethings in Los Angeles it wasn’t hard to make them look like they were walking out of the pages of a fashion magazine. Yet it’s a visual reference that stood in sharp contrast to the second part of Araki’s vision for the show.

“The other world is this Lynchian dark mysterious world,” said Valde-Hansen. “[It] represents...
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