This blog references this podcast interview from The Kodakery with Charlotte Bruus Christensen, cinematographer of A Quiet Place.
In the interview, cinematographer Charlotte Bruus described how the story dictated what type of shots they could get. Since the characters conversed mostly in American sign language with subtitles for the layman, most shots had to leave enough room for the sign language to take place. Even when they might want a close up on a face, they had to make that conscious choice that the hands had to be seen. It was done for practicality but very much dictated the look and feel of the film.
Christensen also described how she uses elements from the script and the director to add the character to her camera operating in each scene.
“I constantly work towards a word or a scene or something that the director has given me…to give that to the audience,” Charlotte Bruus Christensen said.
How do you do that? Well, you accomplish that with the lighting design, the camera movement, handheld vs. tripod… each choice adds another layer to what Christensen is saying with the camera.
“That’s the work that doesn’t really come out in the dialogue or in the set design,” she said. “That’s something that I can add. These words, I get very set what I’m aiming for with the light and with the movement. That will guide me to whether this [tracking shot] should be going fast or slow or if you zoom.”
Not all Directors of Photography will operate the camera themselves, but Christensen did. She adds an intuitive element to it, very much responding to the actors in the moment.
“When you operate yourself, you really can feel that, when a character moves his head or these little details… to me that’s very, very important to catch those moments and try and convey emotion… to move an audience. Show that emotion. To move an audience. But that’s another amazing thing about cinematography. It’s such a powerful tool.”
It’s interesting to note that part of the personality lent to the image by the cinematographer herself was also her choice to shoot in film. People balked at her choice, assuming the film would not be able to handle the dark scenes. Christensen, however, knew better.
Being knowledgeable with film stocks, she chose the right tools for the job. The funny thing is, shooting in film means you don’t see exactly what you’re getting through the viewfinder. Using her experience, intuition and a light meter, Christensen captured amazing visuals for an incredible film.