Family Business: Supernatural
published in the American Cinematographer
Serge Ladouceur, CSC details how his visual approach to this imaginative, long-running genre series evolved with storytelling tactics and technology, leading to new creative choices.
“We started shooting today,” Supernatural director of photography Serge Ladouceur, CSC told AC on Jan. 7, as the cast and crew resumed production the show’s 15th and final season after a holiday hiatus. “It feels strange to think we’re into our last run.” And what a run it’s been.
Since the CW series made its debut in 2005, the labyrinthine exploits of intrepid “hunters” Sam and Dean Winchester (played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) have seen them repeatedly crisscross the country, as well as journey to both heaven and hell, along with stints in purgatory and alternate dimensions. Throughout, the boys have tangled with and dispatched all manner of inhuman antagonists — a “family business” trade they learned in childhood from their stern father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) — backed up by the fallen angel Castiel (Misha Collins) and surrogate dad Bobby (Jim Beaver), among many others. But whether confronted by ghosts, ghouls, witches, angels, demons or even God himself, the brothers’ resourcefulness — as well as their jet-black 1967 Chevy Impala lovingly known as “Baby” — saw them through to the next episode. And along for this entire wild ride has been Ladouceur, also a co-producer in the show.
The French-Canadian cinematographer joined the Supernatural family immediately after the show’s dark and spooky pilot was completed in Los Angeles— photographed by Aaron Schneider, ASC — and the production established a permanent home base in Vancouver. There they began an odyssey across 327 episodes, 320 of which were shot by Ladouceur with help from his many invaluable crew people who cycled through the production over the years. Another seven episodes were shot by Bradley S. Creasser, Ladouceur’s longtime A-camera operator, three of which the cinematographer directed, and they split credit on two more...
“Let’s take into consideration that nobody knew we were going to last 15 seasons. Again, how can you?”