DP Laura Merians Gonçalves
talks miniseries Dead Ringers

Director David Cronenberg’s 1988 horror film Dead Ringers, about twin OBGYNs whose penchant for tricking others threatens to shatter their own psyches, has received a sibling of its own with the six-episode Amazon miniseries of the same name. Starring Rachel Weisz as twins Beverly and Elliot Mantle, the show tracks a similar descent into madness, but one that’s carefully distinguished as a complement to its predecessor.

The miniseries’ dual cinematographers, Jody Lee Lipes ASC and Laura Merians Gonçalves, worked together from preproduction, turning to Panavision New York for an equipment package built around Panavision G Series anamorphic lenses and Panavised Sony Venice cameras. Their prep time also found them working with Light Iron senior colourist Sam Daley, who helped devise and refine shooting LUTs for principal photography. Lipes photographed the first two episodes and Gonçalves shot the remaining four, with Light Iron providing dailies throughout and final color ahead of the show’s April premiere.

In this exclusive Q&A, Gonçalves discusses the miniseries’ visual opportunities, which were realised in close collaboration with Lipes and Daley from prep through post.

During her time at the University of California, Berkeley, she studied philosophy and “started to experiment with lighting and electricity. Something about that world really resonated with me.” After graduating, she started her journey into filmmaking as best boy electric on the 2001 featureBully, directed by Larry Clark and shot by Steve Gainer, ASC, ASK. Gonçalves joined IATSE Local 728 and, later, ICG Local 600, and she credits the unions and her work on features, commercials, music videos and television for her real education. “Whether a job turns out to be gloriously well-received or no one ever sees it, all the work serves as learning experiences,” she says. “You have to embrace less-than-perfect results, and look at them in a positive way so that it transforms you and makes you better. The process is the result I want.”Gonçalves never participated in professional shadowing experiences, but over the years many cinematographers have served as mentors. “I learned so much by watching others do it. 

Gonçalves lines up an over-the-shoulder shot. (Photo by Barney Cokeliss)Pacified won two awards at the recent Camerimage International Film Festival: Best Cinematographer’s Debut and Best Director’s Debut (for Paxton Winters). For her work on the film, Gonçalves was also awarded Best Cinematography at the 2019 San Sebastián International Film Festival and Best Cinematography at the Aruanda Film Festival in Brazil.Her additional cinematography credits include the short Solipsist, the Netflix special John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch, and numerous other shorts, music videos and documentaries.“