When it comes to trying to capture the vision of I Know What You Did Last Summer author Lois Duncan and updating it with contemporary themes from showrunner Sara Goodman, cinematographer Anka Malatynska took on the challenge of making the Amazon television adaptation feel as cinematic as possible. Also known for her work on the OWN series Delilah and Hulu's Monsterland, I spoke with the director of photography about the influences that inspired her, how intricate the opening party scenes from the premiere episode play into the series, and framing.
"I had worked with the pilot director Craig Macneil on the episode and on another series a year prior to that, and he really loved working together," Malatynska said. "When he got the pilot, he introduced me to the showrunner and the producers of the show and the rest is history." Going in, she knew she wanted to stray away from the Jim Gillespie 1997 film adaptation that starred Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
"We took some inspiration from the film and from the book, but we really wanted to set the show in today's day and age," Malatynska said. "The movie is very much a 90s looking horror movie. I think lighting approaches have changed and evolved a little bit. What we were striving for with something completely new, something that is relatable to today's younger audience or the millennial 20-something, that audience watching this. I think lighting-wise and especially for some of the party sequences. My big inspiration was Euphoria. Visually, we embraced a lot of handhelds. We wanted to have a more authentic cinematic feel rather than feeling like a TV show. At the same time, we wanted to feel like we're in there in the story experiencing this story with these kids. For that, one of the references that was brought up early on was Andrea Arnold's 'American Honey' and the camera work in there that's really dynamic and free-flowing. That's actually hard to achieve. It seems like something that's super handheld and almost unstylized would be really easy to do. But in order to really get all those visual elements and still make it feel like it's free and in there with our characters takes quite a bit of crafting."
While the series stretches out the course of eight episodes for the season, I Know What You Did Last Summer will pace itself as pieces fall into place."The party that set the stage for the series is actually revisited in almost all eight episodes, except it's not like we could just shoot the pilot and then insert footage from the pilot into subsequent episodes because subsequent episodes reveal other aspects of the story," Malatynska said. "So we see the party again and again, but we see it from different characters' point of view. From there, we piece together what actually going on and [eventually] who the killer is."
One other bit of detail that Malatynska mentioned is the way the series is shot is the actors weren't privy to who the killer was while filming in order to preserve their performances. I Know What You Did Last Summer follows five teenagers whose lives change forever as a result of a fatal car accident. After agreeing upon a cover story, they ultimately find out the past catches up to them as the killer starts terrorizing them. The series stars Madison Iseman, Bill Heck, Ezekiel Goodman, Ashley Moore, Fiona Rene, Spencer Sutherland, and Sebastian Amoruso. It's available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.