Sonja Wigert, Scandinavia’s most acclaimed female movie star, lives in neutral Stockholm when World War II breaks out. The Germans want to use film in their propaganda war, and Sonja is at the top of Reichskommissar Terboven and the German film companies’ list. When her father is imprisoned by the Germans, Sonja enlists as a spy for Swedish intelligence before going to Terboven in Oslo to flirt her father out of prison. She succeeds, but Terboven now wants Sonja as his private spy and mistress.
Production and Technical information
Lens series: Anamorphic/i
Focus length: 25mm, 32mm, 40mm, 50mm, 65mm, 75mm, 100mm, 135mm T2.3
Original Aspect Ratio: 2.35
Cameras: ARRI Alexa Mini
Rental Company: Lites http://www.lites.be
Director of Photography: Anton Mertens SBC https://www.antonmertens.com
Agent: United Agents https://www.unitedagents.co.uk/anton-mertens-sbc
Production: The Spy
Producer: Håkon Øverås
Director: Jens Jonsson
Colourist: Kene Illegems
Production Company: 4 ½ Film AS http://fireogenhalv.no/fiction
Distributer: trustnordisk http://www.trustnordisk.com
IMDB link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8435308/?ref_=nm_flmg_cin_5
Imago cinematography awards 2020 nominee, Zsigmond Vilmos Film Festival 2020 nominee
DOP Anton Mertens SBC on his camera and lens choices
“After my first phone call with director Jens Jonsson it quickly became clear that we were on the same page visually. We wanted the film to have a rich look in terms of colour and lighting, to stay away from a muted WWII palette. Aided in this by the production design and costumes, I set out to create a film noir in colour look for the film, reminiscent of the films of the forties.
To accentuate this even more we wanted to shoot the film using anamorphic lenses. During the camera tests I looked at various anamorphic lenses. In the end I favoured the Cooke anamorphic/i primes for their great cinematic look, their reliability and modern design that made it easy for the camera crew to work fast. Other lenses inclined to deform the talents face, something I wanted to avoid. Using anamorphic lenses I was able to put the characters in their environment, but still keep the images to have depth and not feel flat. Also I did not want the background to be too out of focus so we would lose the richness of the sets. Our workhorse to achieve this became the 50 mm, in fact most of the time I would use it to do both the wider and closer shots, sometimes adding a 75mm to get really close. The 48 day shoot used a variety of locations in Stockholm, Gottenborg and Brussels.
One of the more difficult aspects of the shoot was how to handle the exterior night scenes. Scandinavian nights during the summer are very short, it’s more of a blue hour situation than actual true darkness. To solve this we resorted to doing a mix of actual night and day for night work . Most wide shots were done in actual night. The remainder of the coverage was then shot first during the day by bringing in big lights close to the action, stopping down on the lens and changing the colour temperature. The upside of this was that the resulting harder shadows and contrast gave the scenes more of a Film noir look. Some of our outdoor locations were hard to access with heavy equipment so I sometimes had to resort to using a single source to light a large night exterior. Having anamorphic lenses that hold their quality while shooting wide open was a big help in this as well.”