While Ellis is a self-confessed cinephile and referenced a range of werewolf movies, along with science fiction horrors such as Alien (1979, dir. Ridley Scott, DP Derek Vanlint CSC), he says, “This was my fifth film and you let go of the handrail, trust your own voice, your own ideas and aesthetic sensibilities to do something new and different. Also, as I look to the future, and wonder how many movies I have left in me, maybe ten or 15, why would I not shoot those all on celluloid film?

“There’s an etiquette, a discipline and an artfulness to imagemaking with film that you just don’t get with digital. Celluloid has been around for over 100 years and has never been bettered in terms of the mechanical design of the cameras and the science behind the emulsions. To me, digital films just look ultra-clean and have no personality to them. Additionally, I don’t have the inclination to work with LUTs and DITs, trying to make digital look like film. What I love is film and how, if you are well-organized, you can make it look strikingly original, different and engrossing.”

To find his perfect visual recipe for The Cursed, Ellis undertook extensive testing in Paris during pre-production. This involved shooting all of the clothing on mannequins, as well as the wallpapered surfaces of the manor house, in various interior/exterior lighting conditions – firelight, candlelight, broad daylight and dusk – while also experimenting with different lenses, Kodak film stocks, film-based camera and lab processing techniques.

“It’s not an automatic given that if you shoot on film that the result is going to look like film, nor yield the look you want,” he says. “Finding the right ingredients is not expensive, as it just involved me with the camera and the color team at the lab. But what it means in practice is you can develop the look you really want, so that when you come to shoot you are ready visually and technically, which ultimately saves time and money.”

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