Spotlight Interview: Cinematographer Christopher Rejano Discusses Night’s End

Spotlight is ComingSoon’s interview series with below-the-line and/or up-and-coming talent in the world of television and film. Our aim is to shine a spotlight on the varied positions that make the entertainment you love possible rather than focusing purely on actors and directors.

ComingSoon’s Jeff Ames spoke with cinematographer Christopher Rejano about his work on Night’s End, which is currently streaming on Shudder.

Here’s the synopsis: In Night’s End, an anxious shut-in unwittingly moves into a haunted apartment and hires a mysterious stranger to perform an exorcism that takes a horrific turn. Starring Geno Walker, Felonious Munk, Kate Arrington, and Michael Shannon. Written by Brett Neveu and directed by Jennifer Reeder (Knives and Skin, V/H/S/94).

Jeff Ames: What led you to become a cinematographer?

Christopher Rejano: I think the first thing that drew me to cinematography was the early days of MTV. Something about the short moment of time to convey a style or visual tonality seemed really exciting. So between MTV, skateboard videos and 90s American independent cinema I had a good primer on visual style. Initially I had gone to film school to write and direct but a photography background automatically defaulted me to the role of DP in group projects. It was in this role that I discovered that cinematography was where my heart and head belonged.

Were there specific individuals in the field who influenced your style?

These four for me: Robby Müller, Harris Savides, Gabriel Figueroa, James Wong Howe.

How has your technique/style evolved over the years?

I think having come up through the transition from film to digital cinema has played the biggest part in the evolution of my style. Early on the initial thought on exposing film was to play it safe always and not going too dark for fear of grain. The same can be said with digital cinematography except it’s a fear of noise. But just like with film the more I shoot the more I’m comfortable to really take risks with darkness. The technology of sensor science and post color have nudged it all in the right direction. Also, I treat color contrast the same way I treat light and dark in a black and white film. I feel that I’ve finally found the realm of cinematography that I tend to hover in and likeminded directors and producers find me because of that.

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What was it about Night’s End that made you want to work on it?

Night’s End came together in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. There had been a year of uncertainty already where independent film had been almost on hold, commercials were scaled back, and bigger productions were weaving together a plan of attack. So when Director Jennifer Reeder told me she wanted to make this film I was really amped. So many of us spent lockdown waiting to hear what was next and this film was a perfect project to shake off the dust.

What was the most challenging aspect of Night’s End and how did you overcome it?

The most challenging aspect aside from the obvious restrictions of Covid-19 protocols was the fact that we shot in one location for the entire film. This made it convenient for certain things like loading in and loading out equipment every day but also tough when one department had to make room for a scene and we would all switch places with other departments,

Do you have any fun, behind-the-scenes stories about the making of Night’s End that you can share?

The majority of this crew worked on Jennifer’s last film, Knives and Skin. Many of them I’ve known for a very long time like my good friend and Gaffer-David “Louie” Lukasik. It’s so great to have a shorthand with the crew and we joke around a lot in between setups like a big goofy family. It’s the best.

What was your collaboration with director Jennifer Reeder like? How challenging was her vision?

This is the third feature film I’ve made with Jennifer. We’ve also done about 8 or 10 short films, I’ve lost count actually. Having worked with Jennifer this much has helped to create that shorthand that I mentioned before. Jennifer is wonderful to collaborate with because she brings so much creativity and individuality to the table before you even get to finish reading the script. We have a tendency to figure out looks, lensing, color palettes and the like very early on which makes my job easier.

Were there things you learned from working on Night’s End that you’re excited to apply to future projects?

I think one of the most exciting things I learned about working on this film is to bring it back to simplicity. When there is a script with heavy dialogue you have to keep it simple or else you’ll never make your day. The film isn’t about me, the film is about the storytelling.

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Do you have any other projects coming up that you can share with us?

I am in early preproduction for a supernatural thriller feature film directed by Chicago director Jim Vendiola called Homesick. Super excited for this one, we get to do some time period jumping which from a visual standpoint is a fun challenge to be up against. Also, I’m part of a project in development called ‘nowhere’ created by musician Cory Chisel. Rachael Leigh Cook is the lead and is also producing the project. Natasha Halevi Gunn is slated to direct. Besides all of that I’ll continue shooting commercials, fashion film and whatever else the right people find me for.

Additional comments.

Big thank you to Shudder for backing this film and a super shout out to the amazing team of this film: Director Jennifer Reeder Production Designer: Adri Siriwatt, Costume Designer: Kate Grube, Gaffer: David ‘Louie” Lukasik, and to the entire cast and crew. Everyone worked so hard under the toughest conditions, but I think we’ve made something pretty special.


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