The Queen of Sin, the third film lensed by Serge Desrosiers, CSC (a.k.a. Sergio Di Rosa), for Incendo Productions and its cable network client Lifetime, is a departure from what most people consider the traditional Lifetime made-for-TV movie.
“The Queen of Sin is unlike any film that I’ve done for Incendo and Lifetime,” explained Desrosiers, whose second Lifetime film, Sometimes the Good Kill – also shot with Cooke lenses – has been nominated for an ASC 2018 award. “This was a more complicated and harder story. This is where the agreement that I made with the Incendo producers before my first film really paid off. They gave me the authority to choose the lights for a harder look. Not flat lighting, but more contrasty and harsher. That’s exactly what The Queen of Sin needed.”
The story, directed by Jean-François Rivard, revolves around Posy, a late-20s serial monogamist who is pushed into one last fling before her marriage, using an alter ego she’s created called the Queen of Sin. However, her growing desire to break free of her regular self finds her swept up in what will become a deal with the devil.
“We used lots of colours — reds and blues — for an industrial-Asian look for the city, and some bizarre lighting,” said Desrosiers. For the script notes calling for the killer to only be lit by pool light reflections on the ceiling of his house, we used the American DJ H2O LED, which is a theatrical light that rotates and simulates multi-coloured water effects.”
Shot in 16 days, completely on location (as most Incendo films are) in houses, offices, hotel rooms, and suites in Montreal, Rivard’s directing style is to have the camera be a part of the story with a variety of movements to match, and not just an observer seeing things through the fourth wall. That meant Desrosiers, who also served as camera operator, used a Steadicam, a Ronin 2 gimbal, dollies, cranes, and went handheld for the look that Rivard needed, primarily using an ARRI ALEXA Mini, supplemented with a DJI 4K Osmo and a Canon C300 for specialty shots.
“Let me say right up front that I really love Cooke lenses,” stated Desrosiers. “They have a gentleness, which is great for older actors, as the lenses help with smoothness of the face when shooting in HD or higher resolutions. They make digital look like film with a nice texture on the skin tones, giving a more natural, organic look. That’s why I like them so much.”
For every one of his films with Incendo, Desrosiers does traditional lens tests with a variety of lenses, and for the third time, Cooke lenses gave everyone the look they wanted. Desrosiers and Rivard used Cooke S4/i lenses with 25mm, 35mm, and 65mm focal lengths shooting at T.2. While using only three lenses might initially seem odd, this is exactly what this project required.
“Rivard really likes the 35mm a lot as he likes to get close to the actors,” explained Desrosiers. “We used the 35 for almost 80 percent of the film. We’d shoot wide with the 35, then shoot close-up with the 35 as well. That’s a bit complicated lighting-wise, but placing softer lights farther away helped immensely.”
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