Last month, Disney released a new comedy film called “Prom Dates”, which follows best friends Jess and Hannah, who made a pact at 13 to have the perfect senior prom. Despite the impending changes that college will bring over the next four years, the two are committed to honouring their prom pact. But with only 24 hours left before the big event, everything falls apart when they break up with each of their dates. Jess and Hannah are left with one night to find new dates and live out their middle-school fantasies.

Recently, I got to speak with the movie’s cinematographer, Bradford Lipson, who shared some details on how he played
an integral role in capturing the emotional journey of the film’s characters, particularly the friendship between Jess and Hannah at the centre of the story.

Bradford has previously worked “The Wedding Ringer”, “Wilfred”, and many others.

Could you describe your role on “Prom Dates”?   

I served as the cinematographer on the film. For those unfamiliar with the role, a cinematographer is responsible for the visual aesthetic of the production. This includes selecting lenses, using lens filtration, managing color and lighting, and determining camera placement and movement. Additionally, we assist the director with blocking actors when needed and help create the shot list for each scene.

What was your approach to creating the cinematography for the film?   

 Our amazing director, Kim Nguyen, collaborated with our talented production designer, Eve McCarney, to create a fantastic lookbook. This visual aid allowed us to quickly understand Kim’s vision, especially her specific preferences for colors and the overall approach to the film. We discussed the lighting and visual aesthetic, agreeing that a grounded look would best serve the story. 

As the cinematographer, I focused on making the cinematography serve the narrative. This informed my decision to use practical lights, like table lamps and floor lamps, as the foundation for my lighting design. I aimed for a natural look, avoiding anything too flashy. While we referenced a few films, I gave it my own interpretation.

What was the biggest highlight of working on “Prom Date”?  

Working with Kim and the incredible cast she assembled was a joy every day. The collaborative synergy between Kim and me, combined with a professional and delightful cast, made the experience truly enjoyable. My camera, grip, and electric crews were supportive, talented, and creative, contributing to a true team effort. It made going to work every day a joy.

What was the most challenging part about working on the film?   

The scene that stands out most vividly in my mind is the stripper scene, where Hannah experiences a transformative moment. She finds refuge in a quiet room within a frat house, but her exit is thwarted by a group of guys entering the room, followed by a female stripper who directs her performance toward Hannah. This encounter leads to Hannah’s pivotal “ah-ha” moment when the stripper removes her top.

The scene then shifts into a surreal fantasy sequence where the camera encircles Hannah and the stripper, who are spinning in the opposite direction. As this happens, the ordinary lighting of the room fades into darkness, replaced by a radiant golden backlight and key light that cast an ethereal glow on the duo. The room’s walls dissolve, revealing a floating symphony orchestra behind them, heightening the dreamlike quality of the moment. However, the fantasy abruptly ends when Hannah feels ill and stumbles, crashing into a glass table as reality snaps back.

I was intrigued by this scene during my initial reading of the script and contemplated various techniques to manifest it visually. I even sketched out my idea, which I later presented to Kim during my interview. Ultimately, this approach was what we executed.

One of the most significant moments in the movie is when Hannah finally admits to her best friend that she is a lesbian. How important was that scene in the movie to you?   

The scene you mentioned is a critical point in the narrative. Its intricate blend of humor, emotion, and revelation is brilliantly executed. Julia Lester and Antonia Gentry delivered remarkable performances, perfectly capturing the nuances of their characters’ interactions.

It was incredibly important to me that we honor this moment in Hannah’s life. Many years ago, I experienced something very similar when my brother came out to me. I could relate to the words that were so well written by D.J. Mausner. Kim and I felt simple was better and opted for a minimalist approach to emphasize the emotional weight.

“Prom Dates” is out now on Hulu and Hulu On Disney+ in the United States and on Disney+ around the world.   

For the latest Disney+ news, follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Twitter: Facebook:

Related Article