There’s something intriguing about behind the scenes access to entertainment we otherwise consume from the comfort of our couches, indisputably awaiting the “are you still watching?” message that we ignore as we binge lineups of fictional worlds and episodes. Earlier this year, Netflix announced its Grammasters North program, a competition to find talented photographers to capture behind the scenes action on Netflix Canada’s sets. Yellowknife born and raised Angela Gzowski, one of three Canadian winners, was invited to photograph the set of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Netflix’s new hit show which reboots the soapy ‘90s series Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Photography by Angela Gzowski
With a major in photography from NSCAD University, Gzowski, who now runs her own photography studio in Yellowknife, has worked with clients such as Canadian Geographic, Readers Digest, and VICE. Focusing mainly on portraiture and photojournalism, Gzowski travels around northern Canada, telling the stories of different communities and people. “When I was on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, my photojournalism background really helped in this circumstance, and in telling behind the scenes stories of the production and everything that the public normally doesn’t see,” she says. “I had never seen a production of this scale… you don’t realize how huge it is, it’s in a warehouse and then you walk in and it’s a huge maze.”
With a lifelong passion for photography, Gzowski has been “running around with a disposable camera and spending time in the darkroom” ever since she can remember. Her visual nature couldn’t help but be captivated by the attention to detail on the Netflix show, from set design to highly technical and speedy lighting changes. “The first day I was on set I did a tour with the production designer Lisa Soper… I was pretty blown away. The thought that goes into these steps and the amount of detail, you would never realize while watching the show. Like the wallpaper is hand designed by her, and her husband actually did some of the art work that’s on the walls. There’s so much … like if the aunts are in a good or bad mood, they actually flip the duvets over in their bedrooms, to showcase their different temperaments. The duvets are handmade too.”
Photography by Angela Gzowski
Gzowski spent a couple of days on set, where she found that the crew was very open to sharing their creative processes with her. “I definitely feel like I learned. I really enjoy learning about lighting, and so I was very much looking around the whole time at their lighting set-up; they move so quickly. It’s nice to see that they have this team element during the time that they’re shooting, since usually, I work so independently.”
So, what makes the Grammasters North project Insta-worthy? “You know … you see the stills on Netflix, of the actual shots taken during the film. And I guess what makes these photos so Instagram worthy, especially on the Netflix account, is the fact that you’re seeing these stills but you’re pulling back, your’e seeing what’s behind them and who’s setting-up the shot. You get to see the actual monitors, and Sabrina running her lines or getting her makeup done,” explains Gzowski. “I think what makes these so great for Instagram, is the fact that you’re pulling back in a much wider area, and you’re showing the whole story.”
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