Guillermo del Toro and his director of photography, Guillermo Navarro, are on their fifth collaboration with Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The most recent, Pan’s Labyrinth, brought Navarro the Academy Award® for best cinematography in 2007. The pair also made the first Hellboy together. Indeed, the longtime friends planned their camera moves before production began.
“Guillermo Navarro is GDT’s right-hand creative partner,” observes Doug Jones. “Almost every shot in Hellboy II has a camera movement, and being an actor who relies on movement as much as I do, I love seeing the camera move as well.”
Del Toro describes his process with Navarro: “We always work before the movie. It started with Cronos and is the same way now. We watch movies together and discuss possible looks, and when the movie’s look is not something similar to any film ever made, we discuss paintings or comic books. If there is no reference, we discuss style sheets and put down some guidelines and talk about what type of film stock to use, what grain we want, what type of light, and then we do tests. We test the wardrobe and makeup and hairstyles and test all the lights we are going to use, and then we seldom talk about these again in the shoot.
It was important to the two filmmakers to shoot a movie unlike anything people had seen before. By taking the magical realm, elf world and new slants to Celtic mythology, they wanted to deliver a universe that was much more exotic and Oriental than audiences would expect. Shots would often get tricky, especially when Jones had two characters in one scene (i.e., a stunt double dressed as Abe Sapien was required to stand outside of the Angel of Death’s chamber, where Jones was in full makeup [and 40-pound wings] as the Angel herself).
“Guillermo is a friend, and I trust him as an artist and a partner,” offers del Toro. “He has taught me much, and we are compadres. He takes risks with me, and we are not afraid to go out on a limb.”