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Shot on VENICE: How DP Jayson Crothers Evolved the Thrilling New Look of ‘Cruel Summer 2’

Oakley Anderson-Moore, SONY CINE

June 13, 2023

As the cinematographer, Jayson Crothers spent a lot of time and thought on how to make the visuals work for Cruel Summer. Building on that huge success, Crothers evolved a new signature look for Season Two.

“Season Two is a completely new thing,” says Crothers about the teenage love triangle set on the eve of Y2K. “It's a new story, new characters, new location, new timeline.”

And while Season Two still embodies everything we love about the original mystery thriller, there was another big change: the camera it was shot on – the Sony VENICE.

Jayson Crothers sat down with SonyCine to share the process of creating a look for S2, why he chooses the VENICE for all his new work, and why the process of making the film is actually more important than the result.

“It's Cruel Summer in the structure and the sense that it's still a mystery and a kind of thriller,” explains Crothers. “That was also a big opportunity for us to say, "Okay, we learned a lot of things from Season One about what worked really well, not just visually, but also structurally. A big thing we learned from Season One was that the show works best when it's jumping between time periods. So we need to have a visual language that immediately lets the audience know where and when they are without necessarily relying on hairstyles or wardrobe.”

For Season 2, Crothers needed to develop three different visual languages that would define the three different times in which the story takes place.

“The looks came from practical places, but also emotional places for three timelines,” describes Crothers. “It really was a discussion of the emotional arc of our characters”

For example, one timeline has a feeling of innocent youth.

“I think Bill described it as, if you've been in the pool too long and you pop out of the pool and your eyes are just a little blurry, so everything's a little hazy,” says Crothers. “That feeling of summer where you've been in the water all day, and the sun is going down and everything's idyllic and pretty.”

In contrast, there would also be a much more challenging adult timeline.

“For the third timeline, we wanted a feeling of rot and decay. It should feel like it’s festering or it's a wound. So what does that look like?"

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