About The Production
Joining him behind the camera are his long
time collaborators, PETER SUSCHITZKY, cinematographer (Immortal
Beloved, Mars Attacks, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Empire Strikes
Back), Carol Spier, production designer (Mimic, Crash,
Naked Lunch, Dead Ringers) and Jim Isaac, special effects
supervisor (The Fly, Gremlins, Return of the Jedi).
"As usual with Peter and me, the lighting is instinctive
rather than rational. We grope towards the look and suddenly,
when we realize we've found it, we cling to it and evolve it.
The lighting is provocatively sensual, rich and profound,"
exclaims the director.
Production Designer CAROL SPIER, who has designed eleven Cronenberg
pictures, encapsulates the design concept. "Big business
has left the city. Everybody lives in the country where game design
is like a cottage industry. Small clandestine operations have
been set up. Game designers such as Allegra Geller are trying
to keep their ideas and new systems a secret. Meetings are held
in simple country churches and people go to gas station attendants
to get their game parts."
"There are no specific distinct looks in or out of the game,
so we were at liberty to do what we wanted. Nothing had to be
logical because they were in the game," says Spier, who delved
into the past, incorporating some elements from previous Cronenberg
films into eXistenZ. For the Chinese Restaurant, she and
the director recalled restaurants they'd seen when filming M.
Butterfly in China. "The Trout farm is reminiscent of
Naked Lunch. It's like a nightmare, like one of those crazy dreams
where something weird is happening and you don't know why. A logistical
nightmare was moving the chalet, built in studio, 60 miles north
to a ski hill," relates Spier.
"David likes people to relate to the film, to feel that what
is happening in the film could happen to them tomorrow. It's sci-fi
in that sense, but it's not a high-tech film," she concludes.
In eXistenZ, there are no computers, no monitors, no TV,
no telephones, no clocks, and in the costume department, no running
shoes, no watches, no suits, no jackets and ties, no jewelry.
Cronenberg reveals, "I wanted to create a kind of world that
would draw the audience in for the moment, where they abandon
their own particular reality. There are subtle ways to do that.
I'm not even sure they will notice the absence of those things,
but I knew it would have a real weight in creating a strange tone
for the film. Rather than the usual sci-fi trickery, which is
to add things, little pre-labeled objects and concepts that say
science fiction, I was doing it by subtraction rather than by
addition," reveals Cronenberg.
"The effect is that something is not right but you don't
know what it is. It's subliminally unsettling," says Costume
Designer DENISE CRONENBERG, "The look is no look. It was
a challenge to be so non-committal and be subtle at the same time,
so as not to pin-point the period."
eXistenZ shot in studio for two months during April and
May 1998, emerging to various outdoor country locations within
a 60-mile radius of Toronto throughout June.
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