A scene from Haven. (Photo: Michael Tompkins)
The Syfy series Haven, based on the Stephen King novella The Colorado Kid, takes viewers to the mythical town of Haven, Maine. There the series follows FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose), who arrives in town to follow a routine case but soon finds herself caught up in the town’s many mysteries. Audrey quickly discovers that Haven is a longtime refugee for people affected by a range of supernatural afflictions known as “Troubles,” and she herself has a surprising connection to the town.
The series, which just completed its fourth season, is shot entirely in Nova Scotia, Canada, in and around the town of Chester. When the decision was made to shoot in Nova Scotia, Executive Producer Shawn Piller (Stephen King’s Dead Zone, Greek) turned to cinematographer Eric Cayla, CSC, whom he had worked with on a previous series.
“When I came on board, Shawn already had a specific look in mind, and he knew he wanted to shoot on film,” says Cayla. “There is a mythology on the show that film serves. Although Haven is a contemporary show, we wanted it to have a timeless feel to it. Film images have a painterly quality to them, and as a cinematographer, I like to reference my work to painters. I drew my references from Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper to get the light and feeling for this series. Shawn and the pilot director, Adam Kane, knew it was the right look for the show.”
There was an initial budgetary push to shoot digitally, but the production company Piller/Segan/ Shepherd made it work. “About 70 percent of our show is shot on location,” notes Cayla. “We’re often outside and usually by the water. We would have spent a lot of money manipulating the image to get the look we wanted using digital. With film, the look and texture we want is right there. We also shoot on 2-perf, and only use 3-perf to get wide shots, crane shots, helicopter shots, and green screens.”
Cayla uses KODAK VISION3 500T Color Negative Film 5219 and KODAK VISION3 200T Color Negative Film 5213.
Haven does have “studio sets,” which are also local. The production team rents out a hockey arena and a smaller curling rink, both in Chester, and converts them into sound stages. The spaces are transformed from March through September, and great care is given to protect the ice and other elements of the structures’ primary functions. “Our grips do a great job with the lighting grids, and it’s almost like a sound stage, but there are some challenges,” comments Cayla. “The roof in the curling rink is quite low, which definitely affects certain set-ups.”
Cayla utilizes a full range of PANAFLEX PLATINUM cameras by PANAVISION, both 2-perf and 3-perf configurations and a lightweight body for the STEADICAM. He keeps five camera bodies on the truck at all times, as the entire shoot takes place so far from a major city that back-up cameras are required in case problems occur.
“The fact that we tend to use several new locations for every episode makes this show both exciting and challenging,” says Cayla. “One of the more challenging ongoing set locations is the one used for The Grey Gull restaurant and bar. It’s actually an old house that sits right on the water, which creates certain lighting issues. The matching of exterior and interior could be quite challenging there, but it really works nicely because we’re shooting film. We have characters going in and out, all the contrast, and we often get hard reflections on the water, but what we’re getting from the film has a really nice, natural feel to it. It takes lighting work, but it would be very different to shoot digitally.”
Post production for Haven is completed at Technicolor Toronto. Rob Evans is the dailies colorist and Mark Kueper is final colorist.
Syfy renewed Haven for another season, ordering 26 new episodes of the hit drama. The first 13 are set to premiere this fall, with the remaining scheduled to air in 2015.For more information on Haven, please visit www.syfy.com/haven.