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The Look of Locke
Finding the right director of photography for a film set almost entirely in a car was almost as essential as finding the right lead actor. Guy Heeley had worked with Haris Zambarloukos before on two previous films and knew he had recently done a series of car sequences for the CIA thriller Jack Ryan using the RED Epic camera.

"I thought he would be interested in the visual challenge," says Heeley. "It's quite a peculiar environment to photograph but quite interesting. Haris is someone who would be excited by the limitation of it rather than put off."

Zambarloukos was enthused from the moment he read Knight's script. "You always want to do that low-budget, independent film that's a great script, that will be a performance, but that doesn't seem to be compromised by the limitations that being independent and not as financed as a studio picture might be. Steve conceived this in a way that's 'shootable' within a confined time and place, but without ever feeling like it's a compromise. The face is the most interesting thing in the world to photograph"

LOCKE is Zambarloukos's first digital film. He decided to use RED Epic cameras in part because they work well at night and can cope with very little light. He matched them with very old Panavision anamorphic lenses. "It's a marriage of two worlds that seems to work really well together," says Zambarloukos. " I've never felt freer on a film, it's really liberating."

Shooting on the North Circular road rather than on the much more open M1 meant the buildings were much closer to the road and exuded a great deal of ambient light. "The idea was to be as reflective in our shots as Ivan is in his thoughts," says Zambarloukos. "We would almost make a motorway into a seascape or outer space. I wanted to do this as if I'm shooting a spaceship, not a car.

As a way of introducing the outside world into Ivan's automotive cocoon, Zambarloukos played around with beam splitters, the 50-50 mirrors used in 3D cameras. "The camera can shoot through this piece of glass but it will also take a reflection," he explains. "So if we want to be on the face but we want a reflection we just put a beam splitter in, take it down and angle it the right way."

Knight is thrilled by what Zambarloukos has achieved. "I wanted LOCKE to be something where you could just turn the sound down and look at it and see the lights and the movement and the motorway," says the director. "It looks like a natural organic process and Haris has done it fantastically."

Editor Justine Wright had the responsibility of piecing the film together from around 50 hours of footage. The footage was comprised of five complete versions of the performance, from numerous different camera angles, as well as various other shots and pick-ups.

"It felt more like putting a documentary together than a feature film," says Wright. (Paul Webster knew Wright's work with Kevin Macdonald on the documentary Touching The Void and Guy Heeley had worked with her on The Iron Lady. Her further credits include State Of Play and The Last King Of Scotland.)

"You've got a structure but within that you have a lot of footage to assimilate. You've got the drama part, which is the script and the acting, but then you have all this other footage, and that's a giant jigsaw puzzle."

Faced with multiple combinations, Wright waited until everything was assembled before she began. "Every night a new performance would come and watching it the next day I'd think 'that's fantastic'," she recalls. " But then the next day it was something quite different. The temptation was just to put it all together, but I decided to step back. The first thing to do was to find the Ivan Locke performance. It involved taking some of Tom's performances and changing the person he was talking to, or changing the performance that had played against it.

"We had the ability to change that out for a performance that played on a different night. For example, sometimes the wife would be very angry and Ivan would be holding it all in, and sometimes we would want the wife to be more sympathetic to us the audience. Sometimes when she was angry she became a bit abrasive and that was not at the right moment. Or the boss, Gareth, was sometimes very shouty and angry, and sometimes he played it more sympathetic. It was about finding the right combinations and Ivan's responses to those."

Once she had the first assembly of the performance together, Wright started working with the other elements.

"Normally what happens with a film is that you have a scene with a beginning and an end, which is shot in a day or two. As the editor you get all the footage of that scene as a contained unit, and you put it together," she explains. "With this film, you get a series of phone calls, all in the same location, and there is no beginning or end. There is a beginning and an end to a phone call, but you don't change location, you don't emotionally go anywhere else, you're with the central character the whole time, in the same space. It means that I've got to work out where the right place is to slightly step away from Ivan's story and create a break that the audience needs, but to also keep a momentum going, the tension of the calls ticking over.

"That was something Steven had quite strong views about, especially at the beginning. He wanted the phone calls to come relentlessly, and once Ivan had suffered quite a lot, you need time to pause and reflect where he's at with his feelings. It was quite a different way of putting it together."


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