Mysterious Skin

Dir: Gregg Araki

DoP: Steve Gainer

Year:  2004

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8 thoughts on “Mysterious Skin

    • Wow what an honor that you found this site!

      I love the look of Mysterious Skin. Would you like to talk about you experiences here??

      How was the process of shooting it? What films did you look to for inspiration? Did you talk a lot about the single close ups that appear over and over in the film??

      Hope you like the site!!

  1. Here is my original comment….

    Okay, let’s tackle the last question first. Gregg wanted every medium or close up shot centered in the frame. It drove the budding cinematographer in me insane, as I had yet to explore all the possibilities of composition. It turns out that the concept was genius.

    Gregg approached me at the premiere of BULLY at the Eqyptian Theatre. He asked if I could do similar cinematography, but more beautiful. I said no problem. I shot it on Fuji 500 asa rated at 250 asa.
    We used a Panavision Gold 35mm camera and the Panavision Primo lenses. They are beautiful by themselves.

    Working with Gregg was a rewarding expierence. I am very proud of what we accomplished in 22 days.

    Please spell and grammar check my text, and ask anything else you wish.


    • Hi Steve

      That original comment never made it onto the site for some reason, thanks for coming back!

      Really love all the close ups for sure, the film looks great and its great that you were able to facilitate your directors vision… I’m sure it can be tough at times but when it pays off it pays off.

      I see you shot Super also, really like that too (will do a post on that once I get back to updating the site regularly)… which I imagine you shot pretty quickly too, is part of your work ethic your speed. How do you weigh up what’s important in the frame versus the gruelling schedule?

      Have you shot any features on digital? If so what do you make of the pros and cons versus shooting on film?

  2. Actually SUPER was shot on the RED ONE with the original sensor, which I did not care for at all. The later Mysterium X sensor is far surperior. Believe me, If I could take 60 days to shoot a film I would be in heaven. Sadly there is a great divide today in there are lots of micro budget films, and lots of Mega sized films, but very few of the size I love. (25-40 million) At this point, I think it is fair to say that shooting film is a luxury that most of us will no longer enjoy. Is HD a good medium? Sure. I don’t think the average viewer knows the diff. I could go on about the benefits of both formats, but why? If you have a great story, director, cinematographer, and actors, you could shoot pixelcam and make a blockbuster.

  3. Hi, Steve. As 19 year old who is interested in cinematography, has a burning love for celluloid and thinks Mysterious Skin is a near-masterpiece, it’s a joy to find your correspondence on here and read your above comments.

    One question I’m dying to have answered is about the brutal rape scene. A traumatic scene and shot brilliantly. Whether it’s deliberate or not (and I believe it is) how much did Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ influence your choice of framing for this scene and Mysterious Skin as a whole? it’s like that scene is Psycho taken to an extreme.

    Would also like to add that the POV and faux-breaking the fourth wall shots are a stroke of genius. They put you right on edge and in the centre of the film. Love your work on this film.


    • Thanks Cieran. I would love to take credit for all of the film, but the truth is Mr. Araki is the true genius. I really enjoyed working with him. Its also nice to have a great screenplay and cast. Anyway, thanks for your kind comments, and heres hoping all your cinematic dreams come true.

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