DOP Jo Willems (ASC/SBC) about "Red Sparrow"

red sparrow
@20th Century Fox

Diplomacy is always the best way. I hear on some movies there is a lot of drama off screen. I just wouldn’t like to work that way. Life is too short.

Jo Willems - DP

For the release of Red Sparrow, SBC took the opportunity to chat with Jo Willems ASC, SBC about his work. This Belgian DP is known for his work on Hard Candy (David Slade, 2005), Limitless (Neil Burger, 2011), and three of the four Hunger Games films (Francis Lawrence, 2012-2015).

What is the story of Red Sparrow about in your opinion ?

JW: It’s about a woman‘s struggle to survive in a corrupt world. Her misfortune as a ballet dancer lands her in a world of abuse, deception and decei

red sparrow
@20th Century Fox

Can you tell me about your technical and artistic approach of the movie? 

JW: When I start to prepare for a film I always try to be as open-minded as possible and not have too many pre conceived ideas. I let things grow and develop over a long period of time. It’s not until we have picked all the locations, until I have seen ideas from production design, costumes, hair and make up tests, that I settle on a look. Of course, first of all, I am guided by the story and the world the story will live in. It’s not light material and felt there was an opportunity to explore that darkness. I also wanted it to feel real and authentic. I wanted it to be a naturalistic looking film and stay away from artifice. But I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to explore the ‘Spy Thriller’ genre. It’s not a documentary either. You have to try and take the audience on the journey of the character. Her story goes from being the lead ballerina at the Bolshoi to being exploited and become a spy for the Russian government.

Read the full article with Jo Willems on

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