Unafraid of the dark: interview with Lucky’s Julia Swain

Lucky. Image courtesy Shudder
Lucky. Image courtesy Shudder /
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Behind the scenes of Shudder’s original film Lucky. Image courtesy of Julia Swain and Shudder /

1428 Elm: Right. And that’s a little more challenging too. What effects are you most proud of during the shooting of Lucky?

Julia: Good question! I’m very proud of Lucky in general, I’m really proud in terms of the resources I had to pull off the whole garage scene at the end. We physically changed all those bulbs in the garage, it wasn’t a post effect, it’s really lit that way. And that was, again, being horror, outside my comfort zone, to be honest. I’ve done a lot of drama and stuff, and just being able to play with color in that way was really fun.

I’m really proud of all the nighttime shots, night time is really hard. I don’t think shooting true night is any DP’s favorite thing to do, it’s really trying to balance the quality of light. You know, Lucky is not a huge movie, so I had to be really specific with where to put the money in my department, and the resources in trying to illuminate this house, and cover a large surface area without having a giant balloon light. We had to light from the ground, and trying to make that believable and see your characters, but also believe that it’s nighttime, it was a challenge, and I think we did a really good job.

1428: Kind of going off that subject a little bit, if what I found online is correct, you actually did a documentary called Lady Cameraman, is that correct?

Julia: Yes.

1428 Elm: Tell me a little bit about that.

Julia: Lady Cameraman is a documentary that sort of highlights and celebrates a lot of the women in cinematography; Rachel Morrison, Mandy Walker, Quyen Tran, a lot of the women that are shooting a lot of films and shows that you’re seeing that you may not know women have shot, in a very male-dominated industry. I wanted to set out and talk to some of my heroes in cinematography and learn more about their stories and what they’ve done, and show people that there are a lot of great women shooting.

1428 Elm: Can that be streamed somewhere for people to watch?

Julia:  It premiered at Camerimage in November, and now it’s trying to find a home.

1428 Elm: OK, I will keep my eyes open for it for sure. And what other projects do you have coming up in the near future?

Julia: I’m currently prepping another horror piece called Sleep, with Alexandra Pechman who wrote Tentacles for Hulu’s Into the Dark that just came out.  I’m currently attached to some other features, but I can’t really say too much about them, so waiting to see when they go.

1428 Elm: Well, I’m just glad to hear that movies are filming again now, because we went through such a dry spell. I’m sure that’s a relief for everybody in the industry. Julia, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today, and good luck with Lucky rolling out. I hope it gets you a lot of work in the future.

Julia: Thank you so much, I really appreciate it. Thanks for your time.

If you want to watch Lucky, it can currently only be streamed on Shudder. Not a subscriber? New subscribers can get a free 7-day trial subscription by visiting the website.

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