Saving Lincoln Director Salvador Litvak on CineCollage

The last nine months or so have seen the release of a number of films about Abraham Lincoln, the latest of which is the indie Saving Lincoln, currently in theaters. The movie is a unique visual experience as a result of its groundbreaking use of archival photographs and green screen. You can see in the video above how much of the movie’s world was created, while below Saving Lincoln‘s director, Salvador Litvak, shares how he came up with the film’s innovative process, CineCollage.

My new film, Saving Lincoln, was made within photographs of the American Civil War. Combining elements of theater and cinema, Saving Lincoln depicts Commander-in-Chief Abraham Lincoln leading the nation through its greatest crisis from the perspective of his close friend & bodyguard, U.S. Marshal Ward Hill Lamon. In order to tell this epic story on an indie budget, I developed a new cinematic style called CineCollage.

We captured the actors’ performances on a green screen stage and composited them into three-dimensional environments created from vintage, glass-plate negatives from the Library of Congress. We selected most of the plates during pre-production to help the cast envision the world they’d ultimately occupy, and to help the crew match camera angles with the work of pioneering photographers like Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner.

I purposely mixed black & white environments with color live-action, as well as a theatrical acting style, in order to create a film that is consistent with Ward Hill Lamon’s memory piece about Lincoln. It’s a unique film experience – one which invites the audience to bring their own memories, intelligence and emotions to bear on the cinematic moment, and I hope the CineCollage approach will allow other filmmakers to access a new world of stories previously thought to be unrealizable on an indie budget.