DIRECTOR'S VISUAL STORY
"We are writing stories with light and darkness, motion and colors. It is language with its own vocabulary and unlimited possibilities for expressing our inner thoughts and feelings." –Vittorio Storaro, Oscar-winning Cinematographer –
Apocalypse Now, Reds, The Last Emperor
To capture her vision for Kingmaker, Alexa-Sascha Lewin created an 85-page Director's Visual Story Book that encapsulates the cinematic elements as well as a 185-page Look Book with historical photos, diary entries and letters.
Inspired by the sumptuous sweeping mise-en-scènes of Oscar winning films such as Out of Africa and The English Patient, and the character driven storytelling of films like Jane Eyre and Bright Star, the visual style of Kingmaker will be vivid and cinematic, a saturated tapestry of color. The film’s visual language of color, shape, line, space, and movement will mirror Gertrude’s emotional journey through the film.
The distinct color scheme (hue, brightness/tone, saturation) will visually transition over the course of Kingmaker, whether by scene, sequence, or location, and will be controlled in camera. Kingmaker’s visual style starts in England with an analogous color palette of cool blues, violets, greens, and blacks. It’s a place where Gertrude feels contained and constrained, and we feel the confinement. Longer lenses will isolate Gertrude in the frame. The tone is dark, further evoking a mood that is somber, rigid, and closed to emotion. Art is the primary visual influence for England - specifically the paintings of John Atkinson Grimshaw and Frederick Childe Hassan. The cinematic inspiration for brightness/tone is Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady. Art direction and wardrobe will control the brightness scale; scenery, costumes and set decoration will be dark. While the hues are cool and the brightness/tone is dark in England, the color will be saturated. Robert Altman’s Gosford Park and Joe Wright’s Atonement serve as saturation inspirations. In England lines are vertical and shapes are squares and rectangles as they are structured, ordered and controlled, feeling confined and claustrophobic.
As Gertrude awakens to her purpose and makes the decision to leave England and go to the Middle East, the tone becomes visually brighter. In the hunting scene with her father at Rounton Grange, wider lenses will bring in dappled, golden afternoon light. Dark silhouettes are juxtaposed against a warming of oranges and yellows coloring the frame – marking the tonal transition from West to East.
As Gertrude arrives in Basrah, it’s awash in a kaleidoscope of bright and vivid Impressionist color – saturated pastel blues, pinks, oranges, and greens (4-way split color scheme), reflecting Gertrude’s newfound feelings of freedom and purpose. Sparkling sunlit water and golden landscapes are inspired by the painters John Singer Sargent and “painter of light” Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida. The tone in the Middle East is bright, light, and warm. Wide lenses let in the warm desert light and encompass the sense of open space, freedom, and possibility. Sun-dappled light heightens the landscape and scenery, and it elicits feelings of timelessness, attachment, and belonging. Here, Gertrude feels free and alive. Here, Gertrude is “a Person.”
The desert is vast and wide with Gertrude, vibrant in blue, riding through golden yellows and oranges (split-complementary color scheme). The desert is warm and bright, and it brings Gertrude “a wild feeling of existence.” The vertical lines of England have transitioned to the curved lines of the desert representing flow, possibility, and freedom. Squares and hard lines exist in the Middle East, but only at British Headquarters, juxtaposing the rigidity of the colonial British Empire to Gertrude’s heart-centered pursuit for Arab independence.