Cinematographer Guillermo Navarro Talks About Filming Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 and Part 2,working with bill condon
Navarro was director Bill Condon’s choice for lensing Summit Entertainment’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 and Part 2, the final two films in the hugely-popular Twilight series. “Being approached by Bill immediately drew my interest,” Navarro says. “He’s a filmmaker I’ve always liked. It was a very, very strong collaboration, and I enjoyed every bit of it.”
The two films were cross-boarded and filmed simultaneously at locations varying from Vancouver to Louisiana to Brazil. “One week, we were shooting one movie, and within the same week, a piece of the other. It was very complicated.”
Just as complex was the creation of the looks for Breaking Dawn. It was not simply a matter of watching the previous three films and attempting to recreate the work of the earlier cinematographers. “There is nothing which defined a single look for the three films,” he says. “The first movie is entirely different from the second and the third. It’s a completely different aesthetic.”
The concept of a movie being assigned “looks,” Navarro says, “is something I very much resent. That expression kind of implies responding to a scene and pulling out a gadget to see what existing recipe we should apply to the problem. If it’s dark, light it one way, or a fight, light it another way. That’s not at all how I work and come up with things.”
Navarro explains that he and Condon created a “dramatic visual landscape” for the whole movie. “We created visual highs and lows, chose where those fit in, and then found a very good visual narrative for certain sequences that really benefited from it. I’m very happy with how it came out.”
The films were shot on a challenging schedule. Navarro and Condon had to efficiently map out their various aesthetics before shooting began. “There was very limited time to execute and bear with all the difficulties and adversities of a movie like this,” he says. “We looked at how we were going to tell the story, combining all of those elements.”
Taking a fresh approach meant re-creating from scratch the parallel realities of the different characters’ worlds. “We did a lot of tests and work on how the look of those worlds was going to appear. We wanted to stay away from other things that worked for the other movies,” such as Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) heavy white make-up, a signature of his vampire look, in order to focus more on what was going on inside the characters.
“The movie is very centered in the main characters’ emotions, and what’s really going on with them,” the cinematographer explains. “There are such profound changes with them in these films, so we made sure to allow room for exploration.”
Most significantly are the changes Bella (Kristen Stewart) goes through: her transformation into life as a vampire, her wedding with Edward, and the birth of their child. “We took full advantage of the range of emotions she experiences during her transformation, putting as much dramatic weight as we could on the sequence,” he says.
“For example, the wedding scene is very romantic and profound, after which things settle a bit. The camera is used subjectively; you really are there with them, enveloped in the passion.”
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