DoP Kevin Stewart extrapolates how he và the crew reproduced the dark and eerie nefarities within the video-chats in ‘Unfriended 2: The Dark Web’


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Fraught with fear: a still from ‘Unfriended 2: The Dark Web’ lớn demonstrate the shooting style


DoP Kevin Stewart extrapolates how he & the crew reproduced the dark & eerie nefarities within the video-chats in ‘Unfriended 2: The Dark Web’


It’s a regular weeknight and you’re chatting with some friends over Skype. But then, an unvited party with a murderous agenda pops into the chat và things sinisterly spiral out of control — that right there is the vi xử lý core of theUnfriended films. And if you’ve checked out the trailer, the sequelThe Dark web has an equally scary promise.

But how does the pervading tension & escalating găng get pulled through in a film? và what does it take lớn achieve that right kind of lighting on-screen? DoP Kevin Stewart explains.

Stewart did a fair amount of research on the Dark website itself, spending as much time in the nefrious recesses as possible. He adds that the whole aesthetic of the film had to lớn be as real as the entity itself.

“We had some shots we did in that terrible night vision that comes with cheap cameras but instead of re-creating that look in post-production we went out và bought those cheap cameras và shot significant sequences on them,” he says, “The technical specs on them were terrible but it didn’t matter because we wanted what looked real and that was it.”

On Stephen Susco


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Fraught with fear: a still from ‘Unfriended 2: The Dark Web’ khổng lồ demonstrate the shooting style

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Stewart worked closely with the director of the film, Stephen Susco, who has some memorable films to lớn his name such asThe Grudge andTexas Chainsaw Massacre 3D .

“Working with Stephen was an incredible experience. He is one of those truly collaborative directors who lets anybody bring any idea to lớn the table,” says Stewart, “He’s constantly looking for ways lớn better the story he’s telling. During production, we rigged a big house with six different rooms (one room for each character) — each room had a máy vi tính with a GoPro attached to it to lớn mimic the look and position of the webcam. Each GoPro was then wired to a box which split up each camera so that Stephen could see all the actors at once on one big screen... It was essentially a ‘wired Skype’ if you will. We had hundreds of feet of cable going through the house.”


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Director of Photography Kevin Stewart

Stewart elaborates that Susco also had a microphone, directing each actor at any given point. “Because of that arrangement, we basically shot the movie like a stage-play,” he likens, “We would run for two-and-a-half hours worth of takes or as long as the actors could go. I was so impressed by them; they had all their lines memorised for basically the entire script and then would just go for it with all they had. During shooting I would just sit next to Stephen and watch every take, we would briefly discuss how that went and if there was anything off with the lighting or camera I would go adjust it.”

Working with Susco presented a quality synergy for which Stewart is grateful when it comes khổng lồ working with directors. “I can’t speak for other DP’s but I’m looking for someone who knows exactly what they want but is always willing to lớn listen and collaborate with others,” purports Stewart, “I believe there is an incredible wealth of knowledge & good ideas on any given film mix so it’s good practice khổng lồ be mở cửa to anyone speaking up. I think that kind of attitude has khổng lồ come from the top down and when it does, it usually shows up on screen because the whole crew really feels like they can contribute.”

All about exposure

On a more technical level, achieving the right balance of horror & reality relied a lot on equipment and lighting. “If it looked too produced or too lit then the illusion that ‘this is really happening’ would be lost. That was our number one rule. I spent sometime trying lớn find references of real people in their rooms and how they were lit. I went on Chat Roulette and would screen grab lighting styles I liked & thought would work for a certain character and would mô tả them with Stephen.” Stewart adds that he và his gaffer had a rule that they couldn’t use any film equipment lớn light something so it was all mostly LED strips (to simulate the glow from the screen) on the laptops and household bulbs in lamps. We shot on GoPros for the main characters và any of the other videos were shot with a combination of cheap handycams.”

Final cuts


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Given most of Stewart’s work came after production, he says one of his on-set roles was lớn ensure the film team got what they required to have everything look totally authentic và feeling immersive.

However, Stewart admits, “I didn’t really know how it would all come together in post-production. Andrew Wesman, the editor on this did an absolutely amazing job putting this movie together. Not only did he have to arrange all the performances together on the same screen but he also did all the animations of every mouse cursor, typing, websites, almost every app — it’s truly mind-blowing the amount of work that went into it. He always says that this is basically an animated film because almost everything you see on screen is animated from scratch. The suspense is all Stephen & Andrew. They made sure the movie stayed as terrifying and suspenseful as possible at every turn.”

So maybe the next time you hop onto a videochat session, keep an eye on those present.

Stewart looks to lớn a future of similar films which tread upon technology-based fears, explaining, “Ultimately I feel lượt thích people want to lớn escape reality not go back into it. But at the same time filmmakers are coming up with new & creative ways lớn innovate this format.Searching with John đến (and Aneesh Chaganty) that is coming out soon looks very good. It’s working for now and I’m very grateful I was a part of it!”