Liane Brandon, professor emerita of education and award-winning photographer-filmmaker, served as the still photographer for the PBS “American Masters” documentary “Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive,” which will air Oct. 30.
Written and directed by alumnus Eric Stange, the film features Tony award-winning actor Denis O'Hare as the enigmatic Poe. The documentary is narrated by two-time Golden Globe-winner Kathleen Turner and includes Roger Corman and Chris Sarandon.
Brandon’s photographs were taken on location at Fort Independence on Castle Island in Boston, which was transformed through ingenious set design to evoke the harbor in Baltimore, Poe’s office in Richmond, the bedroom of his dying wife, and the parlor of his admirers.
“The look of the film is very dark—it is Poe of course,” said Brandon. “It was very challenging shooting in such low light—some scenes were lit by just one candle. It was wonderful to work with director Eric Stange and director of photography Boyd Estus.”
Brandon is no stranger to capturing images on film sets—she previously provided stills for an “American Masters” segment on Louisa May Alcott, a “Nova” dramatization about Typhoid Mary and other productions. Those experiences imparted some lessons.
“Shooting on a film set is a little like photographing wildlife—you have to be very quiet, lurk in the shadows, don’t ever distract the actors or crew, and be very, very fast,” says Brandon. “Aside from documenting the making of the film, as the still photographer, I am also looking for the ‘iconic’ photo—the one photo that will grab the attention of the prospective audience and represent the film. I think my photo on the poster does that.”
Brandon’s dramatic photos are featured in posters, press, social media and publicity for the film and will be exhibited at the following locations:
- Emerson Bright Theater, Boston, exhibit and screening, Nov. 9
- Phinehas S. Newton Library, Royalston, Nov. 13 to Dec 31
- Newton Free Library, Newton, month of December
- Boston Public Library, Faneuil Branch, April and May, 2018
“Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive” premieres nationwide Monday, Oct. 30 at 9 p.m. on PBS and will be available to stream the following day, via pbs.org/americanmastersand PBS OTT apps.