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Why Euphoria is Trending Right Now: Production Hacks

The HBO series, Euphoria, has been a massive hit for many reasons. One of which is its production approach. But how exactly does Euphoria’s unique filmmaking contribute to its success? And are there production hacks that businesses can leverage in their own video content?

The story revolves around the lives of angst-filled teenagers in that time of life when they are so filled with energy and emotion that they cannot help but burn everything to the ground. These characters discover themselves in a world full of drugs, sex, and catharsis.

Euphoria is based on an Israeli series of the same name but bears little resemblance. The HBO series is gritty, disturbing, beautiful, and serene. The show is criticized for how little realism the show has to offer while simultaneously suggesting that what is depicted is realistic.

Sam Levinson, the director of several episodes in seasons one and two, clarifies that he is not interested in depicting reality in Euphoria but rather an emotional reality

These lessons from the minds behind Euphoria’s creators can also be applied to agency videos and brand video production. This is because audiences connect deeply with characters they can relate to on-screen, which is why people want to dress like their favorite characters, buy the same books, drive the same car, and so on.

Levinson and Marcel Rev, the director of photography, worked together, making choices on the production design, color tonality, film choices, makeup (for which to show is famed), and soundtracks to depict an undulating teenage emotional rollercoaster.

Here are some of the aesthetic choices and production hacks that Levinson and Rev leveraged to achieve their vision and which can also be applied to your video needs.

Cultivating An Emotional Realism

Working with the production designer, the duo created a visual language depicting the inner emotional reality common to teens, even while the external world the show creates is very unrealistic and even hyperbolic.

While the events and depictions of the show may not be realistic, there are still emotional plug-in points that people of all ages can step into and relate to.

In this way, it is not as important for your advertising video to be realistic – there just need to be points where audiences can be moved.

Film Choices

For Euphoria’s second season, director Sam Levinson opted to switch to analog film. Half of the season was shot on 35mm Ektachrome (recently revived by Kodak), and the other half was shot on Vision3 500T stock.

The choice to shoot analog, with these film types, affects the on-set lighting a great deal and is stylistic production hack to keep in one’s back pocket. Luckily, because Euphoria is shot entirely on sound stages in Hollywood, the filmmakers were allowed to have complete control in manipulating the light planning.

With the Vision3 500T stock, the filming focus needed to be shaped around the lighting. However, the Ektachrome is less sensitive, needing more light for exposure. This also sometimes required more color correction or filters.

Rev found working in this format to be a major learning curve, but one that turned out quite nicely. One of the exciting things about the film is that anything you dream of can be brought to life, whether for art or advertising.

Positive and Negative Aspects

Light and absence of light are major features in this series. Also, color choices, which involve a lot of jewel tones, are significant to the series.

Using the special analog film types of Ektachrome and Vision3, the filmmakers knew they were working with film that could capture more of the field. Ektachrome is noted for giving off a rich saturated color and a superfine grain.

Vision3 500T stock has good color reproduction and more detail in shadow. For this reason, this film type is excellent for yielding more detail in low and bright lighting.

The dramatic visuals rendered by these film types enhance the thematic prompts, particularly leaving viewers to wonder which plot elements are real and which are fake. 

Jewel Tones and Color Compositions

The series’ colorist, Tom Poole, focused deeply on colors to have them correspond as they work to depict the interior emotional landscapes of the characters and the exterior dreamworld that viewers become absorbed into. Exaggerated colors indicate heightened emotions, and the opposite holds true.

Tom Poole worked with a Lookup Table (LUT) to achieve many of the color combinations. LUTs are commonly used to calculate how colors will be reproduced in the final projected image.

Because the directors and cinematographers were working with special analog film types, it was impossible to see how the composition was framed until it was fully developed and color corrected. By then, it would be a major undertaking to reshoot if the images did not come through.

Long, mesmerizing tracking shots and a cool soundtrack were also key elements to thoroughly curating the teenage psychology that leaps from the screen in Euphoria.

While the price of using 35mm film and unique cameras is prohibitive for most video production, there are ways of reproducing similar effects to target similar audiences who are intrigued by these particular aesthetics, likewise with positive and negative spaces and color combinations. Such cost navigation is a video production hack that may require expert guidance.

Directorial decisions are informed by years of education that come together to make masterpieces. Globally seasoned DreamItReel has shot in all 50 states and in various countries shooting live-action production that translates to small- and big screens.