JosephKW Talks About The Shadow Over Innsmouth

JosephKW recently released his adapation of H.P. Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

We were able to catch up with Joseph and get his thoughts on the movie.

"The Shadow Over Innsmouth" is one of my three favorite Lovecraft tales (the others being "the Call of Cthulhu" and "At the Mountains of Madness"). Yet I never before attempted to adapt any of his tales to film since I prefer to write and film my own original stories.

However, last year I created a prequel to "SOI", roughly based upon "SOI"'s background story, but it was still an original tale overall. "Dark Tides of Innsmouth" was well-received, and I decided to make the sequel this year. My goal was to tell these two tales from two opposite points of view.

At the end of "Dark Tides" you see that it is a Deep One who is telling the story to the young lad. In this film the humans were the monsters, and the monsters the humane ones.

Here in "SOI", the tale is told by the grocery boy (an outsider to Innsmouth), and by Zadok Allen, the old man whose father was killed in the battle with the Deep Ones. Thus the story is stilted against the aquatic monsters and in favor of the normal, "untainted" humans.

What mostly sets "SOI" apart from my previous films is the incorporation of extensive outside editing and post production programs. I've been watching other TMU filmmakers crafting their movies with ever more versatile and powerful software, and figured it was time for me to do the same.

My goal was to simply film the movies the way I envision them in my mind when I'm scripting them. "SOI" was the first film which actually closely resembles what I imagined all the scenes should look like.

I knew the major hurdle was to learn the new softwares' in's and out's. "SOI" became the laboratory where I experimented with my newfound techniques. I deliberately designed scenes which would be challenging for me to create, just to see if they were doable. Some worked out well, and others...not so well, but my goal was to probe the limits of the software or, as usually was the case, the limits of my effects skills.

An example of a challenging shot is the opening scene where the bus drives away down the seaside road. It would've been simpler to just have it go straight, and then cut away before it turns. Howevr, I wanted to see if I could animate it to turn, and even start to disappear behind the hill. It took me five nights to complete that shot (including the time it took to add the animated waves, swirling clouds, smoke, and the bus' shadow). That was my first major effects shot for the film, created in November of last year. Looking back now, I know I could improve upon it today, but if I started down that road, this film would've never been completed, and I still think it's darn good as is (by my standards at least).

Another experimental shot was the extreme close up of half the priest's face, as his eye reflects the ocean shore. The camera proceeds to zoom in until the eye fills the frame, revealing a horde of Deep Ones shambling out of the water, then it slowly cross fades to the actual beach scene. Unfortunatly the zoomed-in footage of the shore lost resolution during the zooming process (even though I shot the sequence in hi-definition). So this is an example of a shot which didn't work out as envisioned, and I'll avoid such shots in future projects.

One innovation I tried in "SOI" was not mentioned in any of the film's reviews, so I'm not sure if it was noticed or not. I tried, what I term "dynamic widescreen" shots; throughout the movie I cut between widescreen and full screen shots. I used full screen for the "beauty shots" such as the opening seaside road, and the climax to the chase sequence. I used widescreen shots for dialogue and most other scenes. I hoped, if done properly, this wouldn't be noticed by the viewers, but still have a subtle, subconscious impact on the viewing experience. The final shot mirrors the first shot of the bus driving down the same road. The opening shot is a full screen shot to pull the audience into the action, however at the final shot, this is done as a widescreen shot--to pull the audience back away from the film in preparation for the final end credits.


Norrie said...

I admit I didn't see the "dynamic widescreen". Probably because I was captivated by the whole experience.
All the filmakers of TMU are blossoming without the limits of PP. Joseph, like Killian and others, prove that the tool is only as good as the person wielding it.

I have watched this three times now. First for the entertainment, second to pay attention to the visuals, and third (eyes closed) for the VOs and sound. Although I admit I peaked on occasion.

To me, FX are FX are FX. All very dull unless they drive a story. Joseph knows how to do that, and they do. But they're overshadowed by a script, performances, and vision that makes this a masterpiece.

BiggsTrek said...

Nice insights. Thanks for sharing!

Killian said...

Indeed; extremely talented chap (doesn't he make you sick?! :P) who really shows what TM can do in the right hands.

Now I want to see CoC or ATMOM done...

...I'm waiting, Joseph...


Anonymous said...

Thanks! I enjoyed creating "SOI", and learning the new effects techniques, but my true joy comes from sharing my films. So thank you for making this fun.

P.S. I'll consider making ATMOM--next year :D
(that will require a whole new set of effects techniques)


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