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Carissa Dorson Crafts Distinctive Visuals For Feature Film "Things Will Be Different"

Carissa Dorson Crafts Distinctive Visuals For Feature Film "Things Will Be Different"

To evade law enforcement following a robbery, two alienated siblings seek refuge in a secluded farmhouse, which transports them to another era. In this unusual setting, they confront a perplexing power that tests the limits of their family ties in extraordinary ways. Written and directed by Michael Felker, Things Will Be Different, an independent sci-fi feature film, was shot by cinematographer Carissa Dorson on location in Indiana. “The script had some pretty big ideas in it with strong visuals right off the bat,” revealed Dorson, on shooting her third feature. “I wanted to make sure that I could deliver a consistent visual tone that was a little more stylized than what I normally do.”

For Dorson, one of her influences for the overall look of the film was from the work of cinematographer Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, CBE, on films such as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and Sicario (2015). “His lighting is contrasty and naturally motivated, and I knew our light would be motivated by windows and practical lights as well," she explained. "We had a lot of large windows in our day interior scenes, and my approach was to expose them quite brightly without letting them blow out, and then let the inside fall to shadows. My gaffer, Zachary Clark, and key grip, Connor Hawkins, were an integral part of executing this approach and maintaining my vision.”

In "Things Will Be Different", fleeing siblings are trapped in time at a farmhouse, where a mystic force tests their bonds and reality

For the film, Dorson employed a RED KOMODO as her A-camera and a LUMIX BS1H as her B-camera, occasionally supplemented by an S1H. Dorson utilized the BS1H primarily for secondary unit shots, particularly for capturing tonally rich exterior scenes. Similar to Roger Deakins' distinctive visual style in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, achieved through a modified tilt-shift lens, Dorson crafted her own signature aesthetic. This effect was achieved through the use of an L-mount Lensbaby Sweet 35 Optic, a specialized lens renowned for its ability to create selective focus effects and impart a distinct dreamlike quality to the imagery. Notably, this technique was prominently featured in a sequence where the film's protagonists directly engage with the camera during their recollections. “It gives you a crisp image in the middle with a softer blurry look on the edges,” revealed Dorson. “The Sweet 35 can make a beautiful portrait lens that becomes extremely distorted as you open up the iris.”

The script had some pretty big ideas in it with strong visuals right off the bat. I wanted to make sure that I could deliver a consistent visual tone that was a little more stylized than what I normally do.

Things Will Be Different Cinematographer Carissa Dorson

Dorson captured in Log with both cameras – RedLogFilm for the Komodo and V-Log for the BS1H. Taylor Black, her colorist at Apache, crafted a custom viewing LUT for both cameras. It aimed to replicate the aesthetic of Kodak 250D film stock, with a cooler tone suited for the winter scenes. Dorson noted that this LUT played a vital role in setting the tone for the footage, and giving a preview closer to the final look.

Cinematographer Carissa Dorson used a Lensbaby Sweet 35 Optic on her BS1H to capture a  dreamlike quality

Dorson opted for a minimalist setup for her BS1H, relying solely on a SmallHD 503 UltraBright On-Camera Monitor. Her camera settings for the BS1H included capturing footage in 4K DCI (4096x2160) at 422 ALL-I and 23.98 frames per second. Additionally, Dorson employed her BS1H mounted on a Ronin RS3, equipped with a PL mount and Zeiss Super Speed prime lenses. Dorson remarked, "We also used a Tilta Nucleus M, allowing my 1st AC, Sara Kilpela, to efficiently pull focus while I operated the Ronin."

I'm so happy with the visuals in this movie,” said Dorson. “I think it's by far the best looking film I've shot to date, so I'm really excited for people to see it. Because my career started out in comedy, this is the first time I was given the opportunity to shoot a feature film of this genre, and I'm really proud of it.”

Things Will Be Different is making its debut at the SXSW Film Festival on March 11, 2024. For additional information, click through here.

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