[ continued from page 2 ]

In order to facilitate Kubrick’s shooting strategy, which required the picture’s film stock to be force-developed by two stops at Deluxe Laboratories in London, Smith conducted extensive photographic tests at the prep stage. "Kodak’s Vision 500T stock had just come out, but I was planning to use their old EXR5298, another 500-ASA stock. During my tests, I discovered that while you can’t really force-develop the Vision 500T, the old 5298 could handle it quite well, even if you were forcing it two stops. Kodak designs their stocks to be shot in the middle of the sensitometric curve, rather than at the extreme ends, and when I tried to force the Vision 500T, I found that it had a blue bias. Obviously, that’s a characteristic of that particular film stock, so we opted to use the 5298 instead. That gave us a bit of a problem, of course, because 98 had been phased out, but Kodak assured us that they could provide as many rolls of it as we needed.

"During our tests, we decided that we liked what we were seeing, although we were always debating various issues, such as ’What will force-developing do to the skin tones?’ or ’How will it affect the practicals?’ There’s no question that with force-developing you get exaggerated highlights—they really blow out. We decided that if we pushed everything two stops, it would really have the effect of an extra stop and a quarter or a stop and a half. That’s basically the way we worked it out, and we eventually decided to force-develop everything, even the day exteriors, to keep the look consistent."

Smith credits Deluxe with making this strategy viable. "I’d forced footage before for the odd shot, but never for an entire movie," he says. "I quickly came to realize that it’s not an exact science; you do get some variations, because it’s very difficult to keep things within certain parameters when you’re force-developing every frame on a project of this magnitude. Having said that, I think Deluxe did an incredibly consistent job day in and day out. They put aside a bath just for us, and they always put our stuff through first—that was a special privilege they extended to Stanley. It was a seven-day-a-week job to make sure that what we were getting was consistent, and I give all the credit to the guys who handled that. Ian Robinson was our main contact at Deluxe U.K., but the guy who supervised everything was their director of operations, Chester Eyre."

Eyre, who first worked with Kubrick as a timer on A Clockwork Orange, began collaborating more closely with the director on Full Metal Jacket. He notes that Kubrick never limited himself to standard lab practices, particularly in the case of Eyes Wide Shut. "Stanley had his own ideas about what each picture should look like, and what he was trying to achieve with it. Before he began shooting Full Metal Jacket, we talked about the look quite extensively. He detailed the lighting style he was planning to use, and we did lots of tests. On Eyes Wide Shut, he told me he was going to rate the negative stock faster than the actual recommended speed, and that he wanted us to force-develop it two stops to bring it back to its original exposure level. That created several advantages for him: he could work with less light and obtain a particular mood. Force-developing in that way is very unusual, and it’s normally done as a last resort if the filmmakers are losing their light and are desperate to get a shot. On this picture, though, it was a deliberate strategy that was designed to get a special look; we basically left the negative in the developing bath for a longer amount of time than usual.

"Lab people always worry when things are done in a non-standard manner, and at first we were all surprised that he wanted to do it. However, once we began seeing the results and the quality of the negative, we understood what he was trying to do. If you look at the night scenes in particular, they have terrific exposure and depth, as well as very good blacks."

The results of the two-stop force-development are clearly evident in the film’s first major setpiece, an elaborate Christmas party staged at the spectacularly lavish home of Dr. Harford’s top patient, multimillionaire Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack). During the course of the evening, both Bill and Alice are propositioned by predatory members of the opposite sex: as the physician is waylaid by a pair of seductive models (Louise Taylor and Stewart Thorndike), a tipsy Alice takes a spin on the dance floor with an unctuous Hungarian playboy (Sky Dumont). The scene was lit almost entirely with a huge wall of ordinary Christmas lights to create an elegant holiday ambience. "Two months before the movie went into production, we began testing for the party sequence," Smith recalls. "We tried out a variety of different Christmas lights before I found the ones I wanted in a catalogue. They were very low-wattage, but had a really magical quality. The effect is obviously enhanced by the force-developing, which made the lights appear to be much brighter than they were, but even to the naked eye, the visual impact of that setup was sensational.

"We decided to shoot nearly all of the picture at a stop of T1.3, and since we were pushing everything, we were able to create a wonderful warm glow. We also used a Tiffen LC-1 [low-contrast] filter for our night interior scenes, and the effect it produced is especially evident in the party sequence—it made the lights glow and gave everything a slightly surreal edge."

Although the filmmakers used no additional lighting in wider shots of the party, Smith did modify his approach for close-ups of the actors, utilizing a China ball containing a dimmer-controlled 200-watt bulb. "The China balls were very useful if there was any movement in the scene, because they’re very light; we could just walk around with them and do anything we wanted. Normally, I only used a small amount of fill light when things began to get a bit murky, because I knew that the force-developing would give us the exposure level we needed. For the scene in which the Hungarian first approaches Alice, I created some fill with a smaller curtain of the Christmas lights."

Smith found himself striving for a different type of nocturnal ambience when the production moved onto the highly detailed Manhattan street sets at Pinewood, which were built by a production design crew headed by Les Tomkins and Roy Walker. Four blocks’ worth of facades were built and then dressed with street signs and other authentic items that were shipped in from New York City itself. The facades were periodically redressed, depending upon the scene at hand. "Once again, we used available light," he details. "We put New York-type lampposts right in the frame, and they were all on dimmers. They were ordinary lampposts that we converted; we took out the normal bulbs and replaced them with our own 2K single-ended bulbs. To add a bit of light to the scenes, I’d usually turn up the levels on some of the lampposts that were out of shot. We also placed a few 300- or 500-watt quartz bulbs on the buildings, as well as a few other lights that we aimed downward to create pools of light. The rest of the illumination for those scenes was provided by Christmas fixtures and the lights we placed in the various shops and storefronts.

[ continued on page 4 ]