Conrad Hall: Making it Rain

From ICG Magazine, Smells Like Suburban Spirit by David Geffner (May 2000)

... As if returning full circle to the shadowy imagery of In Cold Blood, Hall utilized shadowplay through various set windows for the movie's waterlogged final act. "I had rain boxes built," the cinematographer declares, "which were approximately eight inches thick by four feet-by-four feet. They look like big fishtanks and each one sits on an easel at an angle, with a rain bar at the top to drive water down the Plexiglas surface. You can shine a light through each rainbox, and control sharpness and focus according to how the light is positioned and what type of intensity light is used."

Hall got innovative with the rain in one of the climax's key dramatic moments. Angela has just run from her best friend's bedroom, despairing at the truths hurled at her by Jane and Ricky. As the teary-eyed girl curls up on the stairwell, Hall introduces softly lit shadows of the rain outside as texture on the balustrade and walls behind her. It's a sad, yet ominous moment, and a prelude to the pending tragedy as Lester finds the distraught girl in the rainy darkness of his own living room.

..."We were all on the same page as to how long this driving rain would go on and exactly where in the film it would start. Obviously, my challenge is to make sure it's raining in every single shot- interior or exterior. The rain allowed for great stylization with lighting and composition. I could place shadows of the rain on people's faces, or behind them on walls and such in every scene. The effect was a build-up of tension and drama-- it can't rain that long without all the animals eventually getting aboard the Ark!"

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