Gina Prince-Bythewood’s goals queen She commissioned cinematographer Polly Morgan to capture the beauty of the landscape and accompany the colors of the environment. . queen The story of the all-female Agojie warriors of the African kingdom of Dahomey. Filming in Africa posed challenges to the production, but the location allowed Morgan to highlight the colors and tones of the era.
Deadline: What were the early conversations about what Prince-Bythewood wanted from the movie shoot?
Polly Morgan: I think Gina wanted to lean into the historical epic genre, give the film a lot of scope, really capture the beauty of the landscape and lean into the colors of the environment. I wanted really beautiful, natural, saturated colors that emphasized the greens of the forest and jungle, captured beautiful light, and leaned towards flares and backlights. She wanted it to be a memorable film, iconic, one that could stand the test of time alongside all the other historical epics we love. They showed off not only their physical prowess and all the work they put in to prepare for the role, but also their beauty and vulnerability.
Deadlines: How do you make sure you’re catching them right?
Morgan: I’m not very professional, but I think when you’re lighting a movie for a theatrical release, you really have to be conscious of the fact that the projector is half as bright as the screen you see at home. As a photographer, I really like to have a lot of detail in my images. I don’t like it when a region falls into a deep black pocket and there’s nothing there. I wanted to capture not only the beauty of these women, but all kinds of textures and environmental details, even at night, so I had to make sure I had really good base lighting to expose the negatives. .
Once I had the base illumination, I focused on the skin tones, modeling and sculpting the light so I could manipulate the color contrast. At night, the surrounding moonlight took on a cool hue that contrasted with the warmth of the fire. We actually used real fire to light their faces and found it to be more evocative in lighting than just modern LED tubes. The flames are reflected in your eyes and you can see the natural flickering that only a real fire source can give.
Deadline: How was your location shoot in Africa?
Morgan: Fortunately, I am a person who loves challenges. Because shooting in remote locations always pushes me out of my comfort zone. For example, generators fail. So we really made sure that our preparations were very thorough, that we prepared in advance exactly how we wanted to do everything, and that we had all the tools and people we needed to make it happen. But it was really amazing to actually shoot on location. The cast, as well as the crew, take a deep dive into the story away from modern life, making it feel like you’re really back in the 19th century with these warriors.