Toronto Behind the Lens: 'Devil’s Knot' Lenser Hopes 'Film Can Remain a Choice'

'Devil's Knot'

The true story of the infamous killing of three children in a small Arkansas town and the three teens, the West Memphis Three, accused of committing the murders during an alleged satanic ritual. Devil's Knot stars Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Kevin Durand and Dane DeHaan.

Director of photography Paul Sarossy originally planned to shoot Devil’s Knot on film, "but when we were testing, Deluxe said we were in such a moment of transition, it made sense to go digital on a low budget movie [since it would be] harder to find processing."

“It’s getting harder and harder to shoot on film,” he admitted, saying that the conversation with the Deluxe representative, which took place a year ago as Deluxe Toronto’s lab was closing, revealed that “a year prior to that, Deluxe Toronto was printing 13.5 million feet of film, and as of that day, it was zero.”

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For Sarossy, last week’s news that Kodak has emerged from chapter 11 bankruptcy was “very positive” news. “Film is a technical medium and over a century old,” he said. “It was remarkable how long it resisted this revolution, though we all have to embrace the growth of digital. That said, it would be lovely if film could remain a choice in how we do things.”

In the end, Sarossy lensed Atom Egoyan's drama, based on the 1993 West Memphis murders, using the Arri Alexa (shooting ProRes) using Panavision lens.

As to the visual style, he said, "since this was a retelling of an actual, tragic event, Atom and myself felt the best approach was to keep it very simple and honest, not impose anything visual too strongly."

However the look of the courtroom for the murder trial was changed. "The courtroom that was actually used was cinderblock and windowless. We instead found an older historical courthouse with big windows since so much screen time take place there," he said. 

Twitter: @CginLA