Interview with American Princess cinematographer Adrian Peng Correia

Georgia Flood stars in Lifetime’s new dramedy American Princess, premiering Wednesday, June 2 at 9pm ET/PT.Photo by Elizabeth Lippman Copyright 2019
Georgia Flood stars in Lifetime’s new dramedy American Princess, premiering Wednesday, June 2 at 9pm ET/PT.Photo by Elizabeth Lippman Copyright 2019 /

Adrian Peng Correia, the cinematographer of Lifetime’s upcoming series, American Princess, chatted with Hidden Remote about his experience on the set.

This Sunday, Lifetime will debut its newest series, American Princess. The show will follow Amanda Kelin (Georgia Flood) as she tries to escape her Upper East Side life after being humiliated on her wedding day and winds up taking refuge at a neighboring Renaissance Faire.

We had the chance to chat with Adrian Correia, the series cinematographer, about why he decided to work on this project and what he found most rewarding about the entire experience. You may recognize his work from other popular series such as Netflix’s GLOW and Hulu’s Ramy.

Hidden Remote: What drew you to American Princess as a project?

Adrian Correia: It came from Jenji Kohan’s people. When you’re with somebody who has that level of taste, you have to pay attention no matter what it is. She could have told me it was a story about a hot dog vendor, and I would have read it.

I knew Jamie Denbo’s work a little bit as an actress. I dug deeper into her work and podcasts. When I read the script itself, there was this interesting contrast between the two worlds. Any time you have that level of conflict that is built inherently into the show, you know at the very least, there’s going to be fireworks.

HR: I was able to watch the first four episodes, and I found it charming, and the humor is mature and smart. It has the same kind of sharp writing as Jenji’s other shows.

AC:  It’s intent on putting out positive energy, and I think that’s great, particularly in these times. It has a deft touch to it even when it engages in ridiculous humor. I don’t think it ever feels insincere. To me, it’s a good outlook in terms of its world view and the type of comedy it is trying to bring to television.

American Princess
Tommy Dorfman, Mimi Gianopulos, Sas Goldberg, Helen Madelyn Kim and Rana Roy star in Lifetime’s new dramedy American Princess, premiering Wednesday, June 2 at 9pm ET/PT. Photo by Elizabeth Lippman Copyright 2019 /

HR: In terms of comedy, a Renaissance Faire is ripe with so many opportunities, and I love that the show takes advantage of them. Did you have a certain way you filmed the fair scenes versus the ones in the city?

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AC: There was a clear delineation between the two worlds and the motivation was that the high-class life that Amanda had with her mother and sister was supposed to have the feeling of a Nancy Myer’s comedy, something like It’s Complicated. Then, when we go to the Ren Faire, contrasts dramatically with this messier, dirtier, imperfect way of life. We could play up the contrast photographically.

HR: DId you know anything about Renaissance Faires before you got this job or had you ever been to one?

AC: I had never been to one, but I have two friends who are incredibly involved in that world. Not just from themselves but from a family perspective, they’re incredibly dedicated and knowledgeable about the craft. My niece is also big into that world. So I had resources, but in my personal experience, no.

And much like European cinematographers coming over in the ’80s and shooting American films and shows less predictably, I kept myself purposefully less informed. I leaned into things I found interesting as a person observing them for the first time, much like Amanda would.

HR: I like that you pointed out that it’s very fitting to how Amanda felt because I felt as if the fair scenes were filled with a sense of wonder. I don’t know much about Renaissance Faires and when I started watching it was pulled into that world and enamored with it.

AC: Yeah, it’s supposed to have a sense of discovery that was important to Jamie and Claire Scanlon, our magnificent director. Claire was specific in making sure the camera dwelled over the Ren Faire but didn’t dwell over it to the point it became too explanatory. We weren’t always so concerned about the audience keeping up, and we wanted it to wash over them in small bits and reveal itself over the season. Jamie and Claire specifically plotted that.

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Seana Kofoed stars in Lifetime’s new dramedy American Princess, premiering Wednesday, June 2 at 9pm ET/PT. Photo by Elizabeth Lippman Copyright 2019 /

HR: I think that came across strongly based on what I saw. Were there any particular scenes or moments in the show that you were proud of how it ended up coming out?

AC: I was proud of the nature of the ensemble. Georgia is so skilled as a comedienne and as an actress, I think it’s great the audience can latch on to her experience. But the true testament of this particular type of comedy, especially with Jenji’s hand in it, is how strong the ensemble plays as a group and in moments when characters get a chance to shine. It’s in that orchestration the show is at its most successful and what I’m most proud of.

The Queen’s journey was one of my personal favorites. Seana is a magnificent actress, and I found her journey as a character to be a truthful one. In such a ridiculous comedy, having such weight and pathos, it’s honest, sincere, and probing writing that is masterfully performed by Seana.

Our entire ensemble was so well-versed in terms of their chemistry with one another. I’m glad to give them the stage to create that kind of comedy, and I think the show is successful because of it.

HR: You also did the shows Ramy and GLOW, did you have a process for getting out of the headspace of those shows and into a new one and did those shows have an influence on this one?

AC: I think anytime you work on a series you have to be able to take experiences from one To inform your next experience. GLOW was an incredible experience because it had dynamic actors and strong voices on the writing and directing side.

I had to come in there with a show that was already a well-oiled machine and hit the ground running with a crew I hadn’t worked with before. The blitzkrieg of that experience is something that prepared me for American Princess because I got to jump into a show that was my show, and I got to set the look.

The lessons I learned on GLOW were invaluable in preparing me for American Princess even though American Princess was as difficult as GLOW was in terms of production. Everyone assumes because it’s outdoors, it’s an easy show to shoot, but from a lighting and camera design standpoint, American Princess is incredibly advanced, at least from my experience.

American Princess gave me the confidence to know I could be bolder with my choices where Ramy was concerned. Ramy is pretty adventurous in terms of its photography and lighting, at least in my choice to go to a photographic extreme for the style and look of it for a show that would typically be done in a naturalistic fashion. American Princess gave me the confidence to be able to push a little bit farther in the way that the world was represented.

American Princess
(L to R) Lucas Neff and Georgia Flood star in Lifetime’s new dramedy American Princess, premiering Wednesday, June 2 at 9pm ET/PT. Photo by Elizabeth Lippman Copyright 2019 /

HR: I was going to ask about that since with American Princess so many scenes were shot outdoors how did you manage that

AC: It involved a tremendous amount of work. Every shot in American Princess is lit, even when it’s supposed to look rougher and messier at the Ren Faire, it’s still extensively lit. The system was orchestrated by myself and Seth, my key grip, and Sean, the gaffer.

Every day they started seeing where the sun was and where the actors were, and we had to continually be able to improvise depending on where we were in reference to the sun. We always had to shape the natural resources and accent them with our own lighting to make it fit into our universe. Every day was a chess match with the sun, and my operators were fantastic in assisting as well.

HR: To wrap up, are there any shows that are currently airing that influence you or that you liked the cinematography?

AC: I’ve been watching a lot more films lately than TV. It’s funny, when I’m working with one medium I go to the other one to inform my choices. I’ve been watching a lot of classic films.

Amazon’s Bosch is a show that skillfully embodies classic film noir techniques. If I had to pick another option, I watched PEN15 on Hulu, which is deceptively simple photography. Andy Rydzewski, who shot that show, carefully, artfully, and compassionately photographed it.

He’s not trying to be flashy, but it has some of the most powerful close-ups I’ve seen in a TV show this year. I think Andy is a testament to a camera person who aids and uplifts actors. I think he is critical in the success of that show.

HR: Thank you so much for chatting with me. I’m excited for everyone to see American Princess and I hope it does well for you guys.

AC: Thank you for talking to me! Take care.

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This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

American Princess will debut this Sunday night with a two-hour series premiere at 9/10c on LIfetime.