We tried to visualize the supernatural bit with a progressive approach – Jayakrishna Gummadi
“We all believed that 3D will enhance the protagonist’s fears and thrills more intensely“, says cinematographer Jayakrishna Gummadi about his first Hindi film, Pizza. The National Award-winning cinematographer is known for several renowned titles in Telugu and Malayalam cinema and has now made his foray into Bollywood.
JK, as he is popularly known as, speaks to Pandolin about the nuances of working with 3D, the experience of working on his first Hindi film and the overall making of this supernatural thriller.
Pizza being a remake of a hit Tamil film have you’ll drawn any references from the original one or is it absolutely different?
Even as talks were on, I intentionally avoided watching the original film until I read the script. Once the film was proposed to be 3D I knew I had to look at it entirely with a fresh set of eyes.
Since it is a supernatural film, what is the visual treatment adopted for the film? Did you’ll decide on a particular color palette for the film?
We tried to visualize the supernatural bit with a progressive approach. These portions start in a real space and go into ethereal ambiances. We (Director Akshay, Production Designers Anita & Donald and I) created a palette to enhance the contrast of spaces the protagonist finds himself in. The haunted house being in cooler tones while the rest is in warmer tones.
What was director Akshay Akkineni’s brief to you for the shoot and how did you go about working on it? How was the experience of working on a Hindi film with a debutant director?
Right from the first meeting we were on the same page. His brief was to make all the elements as immersive as possible which would make the 3D experience richer. We achieved the look with a well-coordinated team effort between all the principal contributors.
Working with Akshay was a delight. We had a very good rapport with respect to the nuances of the script. His relentless pursuit saw the entire team through some tricky situations. Akshay has a lot of exposure to world cinema and the do’s and don’ts of the foundation of filmmaking. He is very updated with technology and I never felt like it’s his debut. Being the first 3D film for the both of us, we carefully charted our visual course through the film. I am excited that all these things turned out well for my first Hindi film, thanks to Bejoy Nambiar and UTV.
Which camera did you’ll shoot on and what lenses were used? What was your camera set up and what kind of treatment did you adopt for the camera movement ?
We approached the shot taking with an immersive atmosphere in mind. We shot with Red Epics (Ultra primes) along with the 3D rig TS5 by 3ality Technica.
We used the panther throughout, consciously avoiding handheld. We used the Steadicam (Nitin Rao was the operator) in one key sequence.
How different is it shooting on 3D as compared to 2D? Do you feel that shooting in 3D was necessary to the context of the film?
2D and 3D as I understand are two very different things. Thousands of years of art history backs 2D while we have been exploring 3D only since a few decades. Our collective aesthetics of 3D cinema are still in an evolving stage.
2D would have been good too. But we all believed that 3D will enhance the protagonist’s fears and thrills more intensely. Since it was a challenge we all were up for it.
What are the points to consider while shooting this kind of a supernatural genre?
Pizza 3D is mix of genres but any script has to be approached exclusively, keeping in mind the strengths and limitations of the project.
Where has Pizza largely been shot? Any sets that had to be created for this film?
This film was entirely shot in Bombay in all real locations. The real locations have been transformed by our brilliant production designers Anita & Donald. 3D requires more dwelling time which means more information, which means lot of storytelling in the space. They took utmost care to enable a dense palette of textures to take the storytelling to the next level.
What is the kind of framing and angles employed to heighten the fright value of the film?
3D required a new approach to framing that involved composing the subjects mostly close to the center.
Since a substantial portion of the film is shot in a dark house, how did you go about lighting the sequences? Please tell us about your strategy for lighting.
Since 3D requires more depth of field than 2D we shot in smaller apertures. We used a powerful torch (wicked laser) to compensate for the 3D requirement.
My approach to lighting was based on the 3D principle of more dwell time=more detail. So to enable the atmosphere to lend a denser narrative, we added details in the shadows.
How much of VFX has been employed in the film and where did the VFX and DI happen?
Quite a bit of VFX went into this film. Prasad EFX has done the VFX while the DI was done in a post house called Origin. DT was our Colorist whose 3D expertise enhanced the color space we were dealing with.
What was the most challenging aspect of the shoot of Pizza?
The most challenging aspect was understanding and applying 3D aesthetics vis-à-vis the horror genre.
Please tell us about your team for the film.
My team Harshvardhan Waghdhare and Raaj Y Naag were very efficient with lighting trouble shooting. My key grip Vishnu did a marvellous job while Nitin Rao did a fantastic job considering the 35 kg camera rig that 3ality rig is. Priyesh Kaushik, our EP was a great strength to our entire team.