Dead Still Visual Style & Tone


Dead Still is set in a playful Gothic world. A world which is changing, as novel technologies and practices are pitted against resistantly superstitious beliefs. The new photograph appears to define physical reality, and our protagonists are not always sure they can trust what they are seeing. Ghosts are in the machines and beyond.

To feel intimate with our characters, we will get whisker-close for emotional and revealing moments which they show to our camera and no-one else. Close-up shots with wide lenses will allow us enter the characters private sphere, while behind them we see their world structured in all its Victorian rigidity and restraint. We will offer a rich cinematic experience by designing a strongly filmic look. We shot the Dead Still promo with old German lenses on a Digital SLR. For the series we'll achieve a similar period look using vintage Cooke film lenses and achieving wider latitude with the Arri Alexa camera shooting in 4k. 

Victorian house interiors of the 19th century were lit with candle-light, fires and oil lamps. We’ll use daylight as much as possible (the promo was shot entirely using natural light) and will film night interiors with fast lenses using shallow depth of field, to feel like natural candle or firelight. Our colour palette is faithful to the Victorian one (see below) and we will switch from warm to cold light, to contrast the comfortable home of Blennerhasset with the cruel challenges of the outside world. For example, Vodrey, our lead villain in Series 1, will be shot in cold blueish light and this will be mirrored in his costume and environment.

Camera placement will be classical in that the camera will always be on some kind of a balanced support, be it a dolly, tripod or crane. We’ll use steadicam for dream or ghostly sequences, and hand-held almost never. Our camera angles will not be quite so classical, but will often be from an extreme or unusual POV (think Fargo TV Series or Blood Simple). There’s a strong air of mischief in the world of Dead Still, and camera movement will highlight the humour in actors performances using whip pans, fast tracks and swift rack focus.

Composed music will take definite nods from the Victorian eras strong musical tradition, from music-hall to opera to classical. Costumes, production design and locations will be faithful to the period without any deliberate anachronistic elements. Our characters have no idea they’re in a period drama - they have rather more pressing things to worry about...