'Grand Hotel' brings the retro flair of Spain's rich, colorful coast to modern-day Miami
In an exclusive interview with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), Alison Kelly, the cinematographer behind the 'Grand Hotel', dishes on making the most of Miami's sun for the shots
ABC is on a roll this year, with the network releasing a lot of series lately. One among them is Eva Longoria's 'Grand Hotel' where she serves as the executive producer of the series.
'Grand Hotel' revolves around the "last family-owned hotel" of Santiago Mendoza (Demián Bichir) on the multicultural Miami Beach. While Mendoza owns the hotel, his second wife Gigi (Roselyn Sanchez) and adult kids enjoy the fruit of his success.
In an exclusive interview with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), Alison Kelly, the cinematographer behind the 'Grand Hotel', shared details on working alongside Eva Longoria and all the other aspects of the show.
Despite the show being based on a Spanish series of the same name, there's a striking contrast and cinematography of course plays a big role in determining the mood and the era of the show. Taking us through her journey of research in the makeover of the show, Kelly said, "The Spanish series is a period piece set on the northern coast of Spain. It has an elegant style that is unique to the location and the era. We tried to give this Grand Hotel the same flair and style but bring it to present day Miami. The hotel defines the character of both shows. When researching the Spanish version, I liked how the cinematography on Grand Hotel used the architecture to frame characters. We did a lot of this on our show, with the help of the art department who created moving set pieces to shoot through. The color palette and the Miami sun are the most striking differences. There is a sparkly, vibrant look to our show that is definitely unique."
Miami Beach is a familiar setting for films and TV shows. Revealing the approach she took to give the series a fresh look Kelly said, "Even though most of the series was shot on a sound stage I wanted to feel the Miami sun as a theme. I worked with the art department in prep to make sure we would be able to have lots of ways to bring the light into sets. We also took advantage of being mostly on stage to control the color palette. This let us shape a Miami that reflects the turns and twists in our story."
This is not Kelly's first time working alongside Eva Longoria. She said, "Eva is such an inspiring collaborator. She always has an original vision for what the project will look like. We worked closely with Steve Saklad (the production designer) in prep, making the world of 'Grand Hotel' glamorous and unique. She is everything a DP could ask for: experienced, creative and brilliant. She directed the first episode we shot in Los Angeles, which was fantastic because we set the tone for the rest of the season."
Revealing what was the most challenging task and scene while shooting for 'Grand Hotel', Kelly said, "The scale of the sets was the biggest lighting challenge. Steve built them to match the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. The lobby set in particular is enormous and has Miami exterior views on either end. We needed to be able to see it in a wide angle shot and feel like the brilliant Miami daylight was streaming through it. We hatched a plan in prep to use big overhead bounces that would solve a number of problems and allow us to light naturally from overhead. This proved to be a great solution and let us get to the fun part of playing with light to have the lobby feel different scene to scene, reflecting the mood of the story."
Apart from that, Kelly spoke about what we can look forward to from the series, "'Grand Hotel' is an exciting drama with a diverse cast. There are some wonderful plot twists and compelling character arcs. It will surprise you!"
Furthermore, Kelly revealed some of her other forthcoming projects. "I am beginning a new series called 'Diary of a Female President' this July. It is a very exciting new show that Gina Rodriguez’ company launched and she will be directing the pilot."