As ‘Possessor’ exists in an alternate timeline, an alternate 2008, it would take the vision of Cronenberg, Director of Photography Karim Hussain, and Production Designer Rupert Lazarus to adapt this concept for the screen.
“We started experimenting with cameras, lighting, projections, and scientifically inspired photography, which is unusual for a mainstream feature film. We started discovering things that no one had ever done in a mainstream movie before in terms of different projection vortexes. It took years of research,” explains Hussain. “Every effect in Possessor is in camera. That’s one of the exciting things about this film –its very organic. Photographically it was very challenging. The techniques we employed are unusual.”
“All the color in the film is done practically. It’s not a grading trick,” notes Cronenberg. “One color idea that Karim and I found through experimenting was looping a gel over the lens and then flaring the gel with a different color flashlight would give it this kind of eerie 2-tone effect that we really liked. It’s a simple effect but it looks really good.”
“The red room scene was interesting as there was not one red light on the set,” adds Hussain. “That effect is done with a red gel over the camera lens with yellow flares coming into the side of the lens. It was all shot under white light in the studio. For Dan, our Prosthetics Supervisor, to do the coloring for the prosthetics, he had to create glasses with red gels to get accurate coloring on the prosthetics that would otherwise differ under white lights. The blood had to be a bit greener for it to read against the red gel on the lens. If he had just colored everything red, it would have disappeared against the red gel.”
“In terms of production design, the idea was that Brandon and I wanted everything off-kilter. We wanted to create a world that we don’t currently live in. It’s as if 20 years ago, we went in a different direction,” says Rupert Lazarus. “Tastes were different and technology surpasses where we are in some ways and in different ways is behind. In that respect, you get to fool around with the look. In every situation we tried to make things a little unusual.”
“We didn’t go the usual, techy route that you typically see in sci-fi movies. It’s nothing you’ve seen before –no clean lines, a mixture of styles, a mash up,” adds Lazarus. “We are doing a lot of big screens –in Vos’ apartment, in Michael’s house, and in Rena’s apartment. For them that’s normal.”
“One of the things we talked about was having large wall screens instead of televisions. So we ended up using both front and rear projections,” explains Cronenberg. “We also decided on old cars. Additionally, everyone vapes in the film and the vapes are covered in stickers. Its full of weird touches that aren’t really about our 2008 –things are familiar but slightly different.”
In addition to the off-kilter feel and practical style of shooting, there were also design considerations in relation to all the blood that was used in the film. “We had many blood conversations,” notes Lazarus. “They found a blood that was the right colour and texture and that could be cleaned off fairly easily. We had to do tests as blood is everywhere in this movie. It definitely was a consideration.”
‘Possessor’ will be in select theaters October 9th and coming to digital and VOD November 6th.