Magazine article American Cinematographer

True Peril

Magazine article American Cinematographer

True Peril

Article excerpt

Set around the tourist village of Geiranger at the head of a fjord in western Norway, The Wave (known locally as Bolgen) is a fictional tale that takes on a catastrophe that is geologically certain to actually occur, and possibly soon. The collapse of a rock slope on a mountain called Âkneset into the narrow waterway will indeed create a wave capable of obliterating the town - with only 10 minutes' warning - thus making this particular onscreen spectacle even more affecting by its genuine imminence.

The area is internationally recognized for its natural beauty, and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005. The task of bringing this environment and its terrifying power to the screen went to John Christian Rosenlund, FNF. Rosenlund shot his first feature - Fredrikssons Fabrikk - The Movie, directed by Bo Hermansson - at the age of 28, with subsequent credits including both film and television. His first encounter with The Wave director, Roar Uthaug, was in 2012. "We did a film together called Flukt [Escape]," Rosenlund says. "The fun thing was that he's very much the opposite of some other directors I've worked for. I've mostly been [involved with] art movies, and that's a totally different world. This type of disaster movie - it's never been done in Norway before.

"When I heard about it, I thought, 'This can't be done for the budget they have,'" Rosenlund muses - though he quickly steers the conversation toward solutions. "You have to be smart, efficient, few shooting days, with no overtime."

The production's 39-day schedule was split between the real-world Geiranger location and MediaPro Studios outside Bucharest, Romania. "Production designer Lina Nordqvist refurbished a hotel by the shore," Rosenlund explains. "We made the entry close to the water to make it more exciting. [Then we] made the interior in the studio, because we needed to flood it with water." The aftermath of the wave, which required a more elaborate set and dressing, was shot in the studio as well. "My gaffer for many years [Câlin Catalin] is from Romania, so he got to work with his local crew, which was very nice."

Rosenlund shot with the Red Epic Dragon, a choice that wasn't necessarily automatic. "Normally," he says, "I shoot Alexa, but I'm also super-pragmatic. The Dragon, at that time, was just announced, and the technical specifications for the camera promised me one stop more light than the Alexa. That was important for the night shoot and the underwater scenes." The Wave was shot using the camera's 5.5K full-frame mode, recorded as Redcode 6:1 and cropped to the final 2.39:1 aspect ratio.

"I mostly used my own Arri/Fujinon Alura 15.5-45mm and 30-80mm T2.8 zooms," says Rosenlund, regarding the production's lens package. "They are very practical because of their small size, and the Lens Data System is good for visual effects. They are not the sharpest lenses in town, but they have a nice, soft quality that in my experience [is best attained] if you oversample, shooting on a higher resolution than your final cinema resolution. I also had a set of [Arri/Zeiss] Master Prime lenses for the low-light scenes. We recorded to the internal [RedMag] SSD 128- and 256GB cards and did the backup on Synology DiskStation DS3612xs with a 110 Gigabit Ethernet connection."

The filmmakers had considered anamorphic lenses, though as Rosenlund explains, "money-wise and time-wise, I would lose some f-stop, so I didn't do it." He also notes that the decision to shoot predominantly handheld "was mainly because we wanted to get a feel that this is real. Roar and I designed the visual style with our limited budget in mind. He is very precise when it comes to genre; he knows exactly what he needs to visually enhance the story. At the same time, he gives me a lot of freedom. I think the mix of my earlier documentary experience and his knowledge of genre gave the project its visual language."

The aspect ratio itself was an easy choice, as Rosenlund explains: "People [have to] feel that they are getting something back for paying for a ticket to the cinema. …

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