The distinction between faith and religion is explored in Davo Hardy’s The Blood of God, lensed by award-winning cinematographer Bebi Zekirovski – by Logan Hill
Cinematographer Bebi Zekirovski has worked with writer and director Davo Hardy on a few projects now, with their independent collaborations becoming very successful. Their latest, The Blood of God, will have its cinema release in Australia. “I enjoy collaborating with Hardy because his scripts are very different,” explains Zekirovski. “That’s what draws me to work with him.”
The Blood of God sees devout Christian man Euan Morris (Richard Littlehales) contract a life-altering illness, form a drug dependency and become the key suspect in a murder investigation.
When Zekirovski read the script, I became very attached, especially to the character of Euan’s father Ted (Matias Klaver). “Perhaps because I am a father myself, I really felt for him and didn’t stop reading the script until I finished it in one go,” says the cinematographer.
“I visualised the movie as I was reading the script very easily. The images were so clear. That is one of my rules. If I find it hard to visualise while I am reading the script then I don’t shoot the movie.”
Zekirovski sat down with the director and began discussing the look of the film. One of Hardy’s visual references was the Australian film Black Rock (1997, cinematography by Martin McGrath ACS). The pair also decided to separate the story; lighting the family’s good times with warm lighting and colours, juxtaposed with the family’s hard times shot hard lighting and cooler colours.
Being a low-budget feature film they couldn’t afford to splash out on expensive cameras and lenses so Zekirovski decided to shoot The Blood of God with the Backmagic Mini Ursa 4.6K, using SanYang Prime lenses. “We shot in UHD Pro Res 422,” says the cinematographer.
The story is based in the present with most of the locations being people’s actual homes, except for scenes that required a jail and a church. The jail scenes were filmed in a cell at a local juvenile centre and the filmmakers were lucky to find and received permission to film at an actual church.
“There’s an interesting little story about filming in that church,” says Zekirovski. “While shooting what was an arguably ‘controversial scene’ we lost both our main lights, a 2K Blondie and a 4Bank Kino light. They fell over on their own and broke. We were only left with two small ARRI 850 watt fresnels to light the whole scene. I don’t know whether it was an act of god, or just coincidence.”
Filming took place over about three weeks. The crew were mostly working seven days, with one day off in the schedule for a public holiday. “It was a hectic schedule,” says Zekirovski. Weather became an issue, too. While filming inside the the juvenile centre temperatures reached almost fifty-degrees.
Zekirovski couldn’t get involved much with post-production as the cinematographer was working on another project. He is yet to see the final product. “My favourite shot in the film is a scene where our main character is lying next to a rubbish bin, injecting heroin,” he says. “I was very happy with the sunset mood we created for that scene.”
Looking back, Zekirovski thinks they achieved what they set out to do and that the proof is that The Blood of God will have a cinema release in Australia. “There is always room for improvement, but if I had to change one thing it would be that we simply have more shooting days,” he concludes. “In saying that though, I still haven’t seen the final cut!”
– Bebi Zekirovski is an award-winning Australian cinematographer.