Stylishly shocking
film marks debut of director Nicolas Pesce; Cinematographer Zach Kuperstein
nominated for Independent Spirit Award.

Writer-Director Nicolas Pesce’s debut feature, The Eyes of My Mother, which was finished  at Technicolor PostWorks New York, is a
beautifully calibrated horror story of a young woman scarred by childhood
tragedy. The film is packed with heart-pounding moments, made all the more
chilling by an artfully crafted black & white look captured by
Cinematographer Zach Kuperstein (also making his feature debut) and finished by
Colorist Sam Daley.

The film is set on a secluded farmhouse where a young girl,
Francisca, lives with her Portuguese parents. The girl’s idyllic life is
shattered with the arrival of a mysterious visitor who commits an act of
terrible violence before her eyes. The consequences of that trauma come to fruition
decades later after the girl reaches adulthood.

The film was digitally captured by Kuperstein in color and
converted to black & white during post-production processing at Technicolor
PostWorks. Kuperstein notes that planning for that conversion began early on
and involved nearly every aspect of production. “A lot of our work with
production designer, Sam Hensen, and costume designer, Whitney Adams, was
focused on creating color contrast in the design elements so they could be
easily separated when we got to the DI,” he recalls. “We captured all of the
color information on set, viewing the image with a simple black and white LUT,
with the intention of grabbing those distinct colors and adjusting their
brightness values in post.”
Working under the direction of Pesce and Kuperstein, Daley
used Da Vinci Resolve to draw down the color and recreate the classic look of a
black & white print. “In my early days as a telecine colorist, I worked a
lot with black & white negative and it was a thrill to dive back into that
world,” Daley recalls. “It’s not as simple as desaturating the images. Getting
the true qualities of vintage black & white requires precise manipulation
of tonality within the frame before the color is removed.”

In fact, Daley made a first pass through the film in color,
using digital tools to simulate the way black & white negative reacts to
light. “I spent a lot of time isolating and brightening faces so that, when
they were desaturated, they would appear more like they would if exposed on
black & white film. There was a lot of dodging and burning, brightening and
darkening of small areas to make the images feel more dynamic.”
“Sam was able to isolate the unusually saturated colors,
such as a bright orange couch or the green line’s in Francisca’s dress, and
make them stand apart,” adds Kuperstein.  “This added a kind of texture
and contrast that would not have otherwise been possible.  The approach is
akin to using a yellow filter on B&W negative to darken a sky.”
Daley made other adjustments to the look to add to the
growing sense of horror. Many of the most shocking events in the film appear on
the periphery of the frame. Subtly adjusting light and shadow, Daley helped to
draw attention to such creepy details while keeping them barely visible.
“We create a sense of mystery by the way the image rolls off
into the blacks,” he explains. “There are a lot of scary things in the film and
you see just enough of them. We walked a fine line, where the audience sees the
horror, without making it the central focus.”
Distributed theatrically in the U.S. by Magnet Releasing, The Eyes of My Mother has earned
critical raves on the festival circuit. Kuperstein, who was earlier nominated
for Best Cinematography Debut at Cameraimage, is currently nominated for Best Cinematography
at the Independent Spirit Awards. Daley says the movie’s success is well
deserved. “It’s a very well-crafted film; the cinematography is spot on,” he
observes. “It’s flawless.”
About Technicolor
PostWorks New York
PostWorks New York is the East Coast’s most comprehensive digital motion
picture and post-production facility, employing an exceptional team of creative
artists, engineers and project managers to serve our clients through the film
and TV finishing process.
Technicolor PostWorks
New York offers one complete source for every post requirement, including
in-context digital dailies, film imaging and restoration, collaborative non-linear
editorial and HD/UHD broadcast finishing, 4K digital cinema, global content
lifecycle support, and comprehensive film and TV sound services on nine mix
more information, visit
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