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The Look
When it came to how Feste wanted COUNTRY STRONG to come across visually, she and director of photography John Bailey took their already tight working bond from her first feature, The Greatest, and transferred it to the demands of the new film. What Feste realized was that while the material might in another director's hands be mined for its grittier visual possibilities, she wanted something more classical.

"There could be a tendency to read this as a dark story, but I don't see it as dark,” says Feste. "Rather, I think it's a really beautiful story, so I wanted to go against dark voyeuristic-realistic images and make a beautiful film told in a very traditional way. It's a classic character-driven drama and what's so amazing about John Bailey's images and the way he shoots is how he always puts story and character first. There's no ego in his cinematography. I knew I could trust my story in his hands because he would make that his first priority.”

The widescreen look of COUNTRY STRONG was chosen, says Feste, as both an artistic tool and an emotional one. "We shot anamorphic because we wanted it to feel big but we also wanted the characters, when they felt lonely, to feel extra lonely in a really big wide-open frame,” she explains. "Ultimately they're playing in these giant arenas where we could capture this gigantic world. We didn't want to shoot a little character–driven drama, we wanted it to feel like a big movie, which I think it does. And I want it to feel timeless, I want it to feel classic because I think you could have written this script twenty years ago and you'll probably be able to make this movie in twenty years.”

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