“There’s Something to Be Said for Eliminating Variables and Keeping Things Simplistic”: DP Mike Gioulakis on the Doppelgängers of Us

Filmmaker Magazine | 6/24/2019 | Matt Mulcahey
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by Matt Mulcahey

in Cinematographers, Columns, Interviews

Jordan - Peele - Us - Class - Family

In Jordan Peele’s Us, a middle class family returns home from a day at the beach to find themselves under siege by murderous doppelgängers clad in red jumpsuits and wielding scissors. Instead of leaning primarily on face replacements, compositing and other post production tricks, cinematographer Mike Gioulakis emphasized clever camera placement and the use of doubles to create the illusion of Lupita Nyong’o and her clan battling their alter egos.

With Us hitting Blu-ray and other home entertainment platforms last week, Gioulakis walked Filmmaker through some of the film’s most memorable shots.

Filmmaker - Follows - M - Night - Shyamalan

Filmmaker: Since we spoke for It Follows, you’ve shot two M. Night Shyamalan movies (Split, Glass) and now Us for Jordan Peele. Have you always been a fan of horror or did It Follows inadvertently send you on that trajectory?

Gioulakis: I was never a huge horror movie person. Night saw It Follows and contacted me and I really liked working with him, then Jordan saw Split. So, yeah, it just kind of happened.

Filmmaker - Jordan - Peele - Horror - Films

Filmmaker: It’s crazy how good Jordan Peele’s first two horror films (Get Out and Us) have been. It’s like if, when I was growing up, Dana Carvey suddenly directed Halloween and The Thing.

Gioulakis: (laughs) Yeah, Jordan is super talented.

Filmmaker - Out - Predecessors - Stepford - Wives

Filmmaker: Get Out was unique, but there were some spiritual predecessors you could point to, namely The Stepford Wives. But I can’t really think of any corollaries for Us. Did Jordan want you to check out any particular films for visual inspiration?

Gioulakis: Jordan is inspired by a lot of different things so it was kind of a hodgepodge. I think the two films we talked about the most were Alien and Jaws. (The latter) had this tone that we were aiming for that mixes adventure, horror and comedy.

Filmmaker - Jordan - Director

Filmmaker: Is Jordan a director who...
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