I've been having a great time shooting this film. One of the key elements that I am working on creating is atmosphere. When I read the script for the first time, I just immediately knew the film required an atmosphere that was both grounded and felt... different; somehow off. One of the key pieces to making that happen was the use of fog. We joke about using it in every scene (which we don't), but what we have been able to create visually through using it is exactly the atmosphere we were looking for. Take this shot of the Dean's office, for instance-
SETTING UP THE SHOT
STILL FROM THE FILM
And here's the room without fog:
Quite a difference.
We wanted a really moody look to this scene, with the Dean (right, top right picture) to be almost a silhouette against the bright day behind him, and Jacob (left, top right picture) to be in shadow, and framed more in the darkness with just highlights outlining him. It was a way to reflect Jacob's emotional state as well as the context of the scene. And the fog that we used really helped to carry the light and fill the room with a feeling of heaviness and unease, which also contributed to informing the audience of Jacob's emotional state.
The idea of the fog is also a great almost literal interpretation of where Jacob is in the beginning of the film. He is grieving, and caught in a constant "fog" or haze of alcohol and grief. As the film progresses, the fog comes and goes, depending on the scene and when it is called for, but also is a reflection of his mental state. But, this being a science fiction film, one has to expect that the fog will also be used for some of the more dramatic set pieces. At that point, the fog will be even thicker and more dense, as a representation of how the grief is all consuming and guides Jacob's actions and motivations. I wanted the fog to feel pervasive, and constant in the same way that sadness from a tragedy would feel, with brief respites from it, where clear headedness and moments of levity could appear... only to become enshrouded in pain again.
I love being able to think critically about the elements in a shot. Not just the lens choice, or the lighting and framing, but also how we can add elements or even take them away to invoke some sort of feeling from the audience. That's what I love about cinematography. And that's why I love this project.