DOP John Ker creates stunning visual aesthetic for ‘The Boathouse’

When you are watching your favorite film or the newest bingeable television series, it’s easy to get caught up in the story and taken away from your couch into the world being created on screen. A good and captivating visual is essential to providing that transportive feeling, capturing the essence of the story in each and every frame. Canada’s John Ker knows this all too well. As a celebrated cinematographer who has a decorated resume, he brings his aesthetic vision to every project he takes on

“I am responsible for designing the ‘look’ of a project. Working closely with the director and the production designer, we source reference material, scout locations, and plan a way to collaboratively execute a singular vision,” he says.

Ker’s ability to design and create that ‘look’ is undeniable, as he has been a part of countless acclaimed projects with beautiful cinematography that captures their essence. Whether working on music videos, such as Bastille and Alessia Cara’s “Another Place”, commercials for internationally recognized brands like McDonald’s, Kraft, and Adidas, or award-winning films including Succor, which was shown at the renowned Toronto International Film Festival in 2020, Ker knows how to use camera work and lighting to strikingly tell a story.

Audiences all over the world once again got to see Ker’s talent in his most recent project The Boathouse. The film premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival, one of the five largest film festivals in North America, and went on to see incredible success at many others. It won the Grand Prize for Best Feature at Rhode Island International Film Festival and also won the Festival Award for Best Thriller Feature from the San Diego International Film Festival last year. It is now being distributed by Circle Blue Entertainment, levelFilm, and MarVista Entertainment. Ker is proud to have been such a pivotal part of its success.

“It’s great to see the film make it into so many festivals. Seeing my own work on the big screen at a cinema is always the ultimate goal for me,” he says.

The Boathouse is a psychological thriller that tells the story of an emotionally fragile young woman who takes a job as a nanny to two troubled children at a remote summer cottage. She falls in love with the children’s father while becoming enmeshed in the mystery of their estranged mother – with whom, it turns out, the young woman has her own fraught history. As the summer progresses, she begins to suspect that the family has a dark history that they are desperate to keep secret.

The genre was a favorite of Ker, so when he was invited by Director Hannah Cheesman to come on board and help turn her vision into a reality, he was excited to honor classic thrillers that he grew up watching. When he came on board, he knew the team both in front of the camera and behind it would make it a great experience to be a part of.

“I just like working with actors, and Michaela Kurimsky was especially amazing to work with. I enjoy that collaborative feeling, like we’re all in it together; myself, the director and the actors,” he says.

Ker’s cinematography was essential to the project. He made this film look like a high-budget feature film and took on major tasks that would seem daunting to less experienced cinematographers, such as underwater photography. He was able to create a look that is more of a lo-fi European art house feel than one would typically expect for something in the thriller genre, and that is what makes it so memorable. Be sure to watch The Boathouse when you have a chance.

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