Toronto Behind the Lens: 'All Cheerleaders Die' Lenser Says Directors Wanted Fresh Start

All Cheerleaders Die TIFF Still - H 2013

All Cheerleaders Die TIFF Still - H 2013

Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson wrote and directed the 2001 high school horror film All Cheerleaders Die on a shoestring budget at the start of their careers.

More than a decade later, they decided to make a new version based on their earlier effort, which premiered at TIFF.

Music video and commercial cinematographer Greg Ephraim -- who makes his feature debut with this new version -- admits that he has never seen the 2001 title. “They refused to show me the original,” he related. “They wanted a fresh slate.”

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The movie was shot in the Los Angeles area with the Arri Alexa, using Arri zooms and Ultra Primes. With budget it mind, the cinematographer recorded ProRes to SxS cards and said, “I’m really happy with how it helped us, especially in the dark scenes.”

Ephraim explained that about 60 percent of the film was actually shot hand-held, and the rest with a dolly or Steadicam. He wanted some of the film to have a “slick music video” feel but then go “grittier” for the horror. He added that to create a hectic pace, he typically stayed back and followed the action. “They wanted the camera to feel like it can’t catch up."

To keep things moving during the tight 24-day shoot, the filmmakers also used careful blocking, sometimes grabbing medium and wide shots or close-ups in one fluid take.

In making the movie, Carrie as well as other Brian DePalma films were inspirations. “During high school shoots, we used a lot of heavy diffusion for that classic DePalma look,” Ephraim said. 

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In addition to the helmers, there were others on set from the 2001 production. Second unit director of photography Chris Heinrich, for instance, was an actor in the first version.

Now that production has completed, Ephraim admitted that he’d like to track down the original film. “I want to see it really bad,” he said. “I want to see how they have grown as directors.”

Check back with THR for more "Behind the Lens" coverage from TIFF.

Twitter: @CGinLA