“Shining Vale” Cinematographer Nicole Hirsch Whitaker Blends Creepy With Comedy (The Credits)

Kelle Long

March 15, 2022

Courteney Cox is seeing spirits in the new Starz series Shining Vale. Her success in both the top-rated sitcom Friends and blockbuster horror series Scream meet at a sublime suburban crossroads. The pilot’s cinematographer, Nicole Hirsch Whitaker, laughingly admits that the show wasn’t such an obvious fit for her at first.

Shining Vale is an addictive blend of comedic and creepy. Whitaker collaborated with episode director Dearbhla Walsh and series creators Jeff Astrof and Sharon Horgan to develop a vision for balancing the two genres that don’t often intersect.

“We were proposing for them to do big wide shots and more Kubrick-ian cinematography,” Whitaker said. “It was really fun to explore that. They were super open to it because Dearbhla and I had come from that world. Basically, they hired us because we don’t normally do that. They knew we wouldn’t fall into the trap of traditional comedy.”

Whitaker noted the pilot episode drew subtle inspiration from two horror classics that influenced her camera work – The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby. “Just embracing that genre of letting things happen in the wide shot and not always punching in to see something in a closeup,” Whitaker explained. “A lot of times in those movies, wide shots develop into tighter shots or tighter shots develop into wider shots.”