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‘Late Night With the Devil’ Team Shares a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Making a Haunted ’70s Set on a Low Budget

‘Late Night With the Devil’ Team Shares a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Making a Haunted ’70s Set on a Low Budget

By THEOPHILUS NAGBERIPublished about a month ago 4 min read
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‘Late Night With the Devil’ Team Shares a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Making a Haunted ’70s Set on a Low Budget

Devil” follows the real-time Halloween episode of a fictional ’70s talk show, which quickly descends into madness. The film’s writers and directors, Australian brothers Cameron and Colin Cairne, were inspired by the sense of excitement and danger from the after-hours talk shows of their youth.

“Those late-night shows were very exciting for us as young boys,” Cameron Cairne says. “Staying up late to watch TV was something of a taboo, but we would, and we would see things that children probably shouldn’t see. So we were trying to capture that vibe, as well as the danger of live TV, the unscripted nature of it.”

Using a limited budget, the duo, along with their creative team, was able to create their own period-appropriate U.S. talk show in Melbourne. Production designer Otello Stolfo immediately studied the late-night shows they hoped to emulate, down to the smallest details.

“We started looking at shows like Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett and anything else that was around at that time,” he says. “We started looking at how their sets work and everything else. I knew how I’d done these interview sets before, so I had an idea. We looked at their backgrounds and the finishes and the colors and things and went from there. I said, ‘Let’s go predominantly browns and oranges.'”

Ultimately, even after drafting accurate designs, Stolfo had to recalibrate based on the size of the project.

“Money and time budgeted us,” he says. “When they told me how much, I said, ‘OK, let’s see what we can do.’ It was interesting, because when I did my first layout and sent it out for initial hosting, it came in way over what I had, so we had to rethink the process. We came into some clever things by resourcing ways to go and coming up with new ideas and new ways of doing it. So that was the good side of it.”veteran with a background shooting in studios with pedestal cameras in the late ’80s.

“He unearthed his old scrapbooks from the ’80s when he was a trainee camera operator,” Colin Cairne says. “It was what all the old school guys from the ’60s and ’70s had taught him about how to shoot television. That became the Bible for his camera crew. It was wonderful to see them embrace a new style of shooting — they had to unlearn how to be cinematic to make an authentic television show. Even the lighting: It was a matter of going to all these old warehouses and dusting off all the old lights, things they hadn’t used in 30 years, and rigging those up. It was like that across all departments.”

This authenticity was critical both in front of and behind the camera, as the brothers knew that, even as the audience suspended disbelief for gory Satanic happenings, any real-life item that looked out of place would immediately zap the viewer out of the experience.

“I remember just the microphones…we would have these conversations about the period-appropriate microphones,” Cameron Cairne says. “They had to be long and skinny. I remember one day the props department pulled these very plastic-looking neon blue microphones and it’s like, ‘No, I just don’t think people are going to buy that.’ We need to be dedicated to this idea of authenticity across all departments.”

Despite the tactile elements on the set, the team still needed plenty of onscreen magic to make the story come to life. Adam White, one of the film’s producers who also oversaw visual effects, says that with a $150,000 VFX budget, the team did nearly 300 visual effects, leaving only about $500 per effect. That limited budget inspired some serious creativity from the crew.

“I come from low-budget filmmaking,” White says. “You just make it happen. It’s just how it works. We would discover things along the way, even though we were trying to plan it, and sometimes you can have the best intentions of thinking you know exactly how it’s going to happen. But until you start building it, and with the limitations of our budget, it meant we had to find basic solutions.”

Ultimately, Colin Cairne is thrilled the industrious crew made a film that is resonating with audiences, bringing them the same joy the team felt working on it.

“It’s validation that’s a bit surreal,” he says. “We made the film nearly two years ago, at the tail end of COVID. It was still a pretty dark time. We were in lockdown for 100 days on end, several times. So coming out of that and being able to make a film that has been a labor of love for years has been very special. We feel we’ve made something decent.”

Besides the sets, the Cairnes knew the camerawork must reflect a specific era in television, so they hired Matthew Temple as their director of photography. Temple was an industry veteran with a background shooting in studios with pedestal cameras in the late ’80s.

“He unearthed his old scrapbooks from the ’80s when he was a trainee camera operator,” Colin Cairne says. “It was what all the old school guys from

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