October 27, 2020

Don Coscarelli, indie horror director and screenwriter of Bubba Ho-tep, Phantasm, The Beastmaster and John Dies at the End

Don Coscarelli is a master of the horror-comedy. He believes that even in the most horrifying times of your life, there are also moments of levity. His films explore the idea that there is another world, it’s terrifying and dangerous, and it’s also hilarious. Don has always preferred to just go ahead and make his own films, and feels you lose a sense of fun and exploration on big studio projects. The great thing about making indie movies is that anyone can pick up a camera and go make a movie over a few days or even a few years. Don shot and directed all three of his early films until The Beastmaster, which was shot by John Alcott, a frequent director of photography for Stanley Kubrick. Don wanted to make an epic “sword and sandal” movie after making his third film, Phantasm. The Beastmaster was still a low budget indie film, but he wanted to use a great cinematographer to give it a real sense of grandeur. Don felt he had to sell his soul in order to get enough money to shoot The Beastmaster, and the producers even threatened to fire him, but fortunately John Alcott stood up for him.

Prior to The Beastmaster, Don directed Phantasm, about a mysterious grave robber called the Tall Man. After the first week of shooting Phantasm, he decided to shut down, choosing to only shoot on the weekends and taking the time during the week to scout, rehearse and rework scenes for about a year. Don thinks it’s helpful for indie filmmakers to pad their schedule with pickup days to give enough time to go back and get better shots, special effects or reshoot scenes if necessary. For his film, John Dies at the End, Don once again decided to take his time and made the movie on an intermittent basis, which luckily worked for the actors, who were all inexperienced, with the exception of Paul Giamatti. Mike Gioulakis was the cinematographer who also acted as the gaffer. Don went on to make the sequels Phantasm II, III and IV before writing and directing Bubba Ho-Tep. Elvis, played by Bruce Campbell, actually lives in a retirement home, and a fellow resident, played by Ossie Davis, have to fight a reanimated mummy who is killing the elderly. Don had a delightful time working with Ossie Davis, especially directing him to realistically fight a rubber mummy. Part of the horror of the movie was making the old folk’s home truly scary- a place where people are abandoned and alone.

Currently, Don has been on a quest to find the original negative of The Beastmaster in order to remaster it, and set up a website for tips on where it might be located. Luckily, a perfect interpositive was found in the vaults of Warner Bros. which will be used for the remastered version.

You can read Don Coscarelli’s book about his experiences called True Indie: Life and Death in Filmmaking.
Find Don Coscarelli:
Facebook: @doncoscarelli
Instagram: @don_coscarelli
Twitter: @DonCoscarelli

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

IT’S A BOOK GIVEAWAY! Enter to win Don Coscarelli’s book, True Indie: Life and Death in Filmmaking. TO WIN: SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel, LIKE and COMMENT on the “Don Coscarelli” video version of the podcast we just posted! We will randomly select a winner from the comments. We’re expanding and adding to our YouTube channel, so look for new content there, too! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQIhe3yjQJG72EjZJBRI1w

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep98/

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

October 20, 2020

Director Ángel Manuel Soto on Charm City Kings, working with young actors, and directing a stunt-heavy film

When director Ángel Manuel Soto received the script for Charm City Kings, he found a connection in the story of disenfranchised youth growing up in a marginalized community like Baltimore- he himself grew up on the streets of Santurce in Puerto Rico. The movie is a coming of age story centered on a young teen named Mouse and his two buddies, who are determined to join the subculture of dirt bike stunt riders. The film, with a story by Barry Jenkins, is based on a documentary called 12 O’Clock Boys. Ángel wanted the film to be authentic to this rider culture. The bikers in the movie were all real and did their own stunts, which look amazing. His biggest inspiration for the film was Baltimore: shooting on location, working with locals as extras, and keeping it authentic. Ángel worked with cinematographer Katelin Arizmendi to create a raw and naturalistic look. He found it a pleasure to be able to work with such talented actors like Teyonah Parris, Will Catlett, and hip hop artist Meek Mill, who were proactive and prepared with what they wanted to bring to the characters. Ángel had to work within the limited hours for the young cast, but Jahi Di’Allo Winston as Mouse was very natural and intuitive, and all three child actors had chemistry from day one, which is hard to find.

You can watch Charm City Kings streaming now on HBO Max

Find Ángel Manuel Soto: http://angelmanuelsoto.com/
Instagram: @alohemingway

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

IT’S A BOOK GIVEAWAY! Enter to win the Video Palace book- Video Palace: In Search of the Eyeless Man Collected Stories- signed by our host, Ben Rock, who also authored one of the stories! The book expands the world of the Video Palace podcast that Ben directed for Shudder. http://videopalace.shudder.com/

TO WIN: SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel, LIKE and COMMENT on the “How To Vote” breakdown we just posted! We will randomly select a winner from the comments. We’re expanding and adding to our YouTube channel, so look for new content there, too! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQIhe3yjQJG72EjZJBRI1w

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep97/

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

October 16, 2020

Phedon Papamichael, ASC on The Trial of the Chicago 7, working with writer/director Aaron Sorkin, and more

Phedon Papamichael’s latest project is The Trial of the Chicago 7, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. The bulk of the story centers on the 1969 trial of seven men accused of inciting a riot in the park outside of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. In Phedon’s view, a film is actually made three times: it’s conceived in the writing process, developed during principal photography, then reinvented and finalized in the editing process. When working with a director and writer like Aaron Sorkin, the way the film is scripted is exactly what he wants to see on the screen. The person speaking must be on camera, and specific shots are needed to sync with the rhythm of his words, like a poem. Sorkin is not a technical filmmaker, and after their initial meeting, Phedon knew Sorkin would rely heavily on him for creating the visuals. Since the majority of the action takes place in the courtroom, Phedon had to generate visual interest, making sure they had the right lenses and angles to enhance the drama, and to get good reaction shots of the jury and spectators. He used the lighting within the courtroom to enhance the moods and tension, and adjusted the light coming through the windows to reflect the changing seasons. When shooting the protests in the park and the violent clashes with the police, the camera crew went hand-held documentary style. Some of the footage from the protests was actually intercut with real footage taken from a film called Medium Cool, a combination documentary/fiction film by famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler, who shot actual footage of the riots in the park from the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

You can watch The Trial of the Chicago Seven streaming now on Netflix.

Find Phedon Papamichael: https://www.phedonpapamichael.com/
Instagram: @papa2

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

IT’S A BOOK GIVEAWAY! Enter to win the Video Palace book- Video Palace: In Search of the Eyeless Man Collected Stories- signed by our host, Ben Rock, who also authored one of the stories! The book expands the world of the Video Palace podcast that Ben directed for Shudder. http://videopalace.shudder.com/

TO WIN: SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel, LIKE and COMMENT on the “How To Vote” breakdown we just posted! We will randomly select a winner from the comments. We’re expanding and adding to our YouTube channel, so look for new content there, too! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQIhe3yjQJG72EjZJBRI1w

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep96/

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

October 12, 2020

DP Eric Branco on The 40-Year-Old Version, Clemency, shooting black and white film, working with director Radha Blank, and more

Cinematographer Eric Branco discovered early on that he enjoyed translating people’s stories into visuals. Eric started out as an actor in high school, but quickly realized no one had any interest in holding the camera except himself. While in film school, he developed an eye and shot several student projects, then found work on film sets in New York as a grip and gaffer while shooting short films on the side.

Eric’s latest film, The 40-Year-Old Version was shot almost entirely on black and white film stock. Director Radha Blank was very firm that the movie be black and white- in fact, when Eric received the script, it read “A New York tale in black and white.” So Eric came with a suitcase full of black and white photo books of New York when he and Radha met, which helped them arrive at The 40-Year-Old Version’s look: a matte texture with a prominent grain. Eric ran several tests to find the perfect film stock for the movie, and shot it handheld with vintage lenses. The movie is a funny, semi-autobiographical story starring Blank as a struggling, almost-40 playwright who is determined not to sell out or compromise her artistic principles and reinvigorates her creativity by becoming a hip-hop artist. The 40-Year-Old Version won the U.S Dramatic Competition Directing Award for Blank at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020. For Eric, it was the third film he’d shot to go to Sundance in as many years. He felt honored to be the cinematographer of Clemency, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2019. Written and directed by Chinonye Chukwu, Clemency took a long time to get off the ground before Alfre Woodard was cast in the lead role.

You can watch The 40-Year-Old Version streaming on Netflix.

Find Eric Branco: https://ericbrancodp.com/
Instagram: @ericbranco

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

IT’S A BOOK GIVEAWAY! Enter to win the Video Palace book- Video Palace: In Search of the Eyeless Man Collected Stories- signed by our host, Ben Rock, who also authored one of the stories! The book expands the world of the Video Palace podcast that Ben directed for Shudder. http://videopalace.shudder.com/

TO WIN: SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel, LIKE and COMMENT on the “How To Vote” breakdown we just posted! We will randomly select a winner from the comments. We’re expanding and adding to our YouTube channel, so look for new content there, too! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQIhe3yjQJG72EjZJBRI1w

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep95/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

October 9, 2020

War Stories Vol. 4: Tales from the Set featuring Quyen Tran, Mike Figgis, Dan Laustsen, Abe Martinez, Bill Wages, Larry Fong, Vanja Černjul, Rachel Morrison, Linus Sandgren, Stefan Ciupek, Matty Libatique

Special: The Cinematography Podcast- War Stories Vol. 4

In our fourth War Stories Special, we feature eleven guest’s harrowing, hilarious or heartwarming stories they had while on set, or a formative career experience that led them to cinematography.

Find full interviews with each of our featured cinematographers in our archives!

Cinematographer Quyen Tran on her life-changing experience after 9/11 in New York; Mike Figgis and a nearly disastrous screening of Timecode; Dan Laustsen tells the story of how his sister influenced him to go to film school; Abe Martinez serendipitously found the perfect house while staying in Kenya; Bill Wages was dissuaded early on from becoming a National Geographic Magazine photographer; Larry Fong talks about getting his big break with JJ Abrams on Lost; Vanja Černjul on his secret to decompressing after wrapping on a big shoot; Rachel Morrison’s story of making a huge mistake as a set P.A. with Matty Libatique; Linus Sandgren on his early days working as a gaffer with a seasoned electrician; Stefan Ciupek talks about the blooper in the single-take film, Russian Ark; and finally, Matty Libatique on getting real concert footage for A Star Is Born.

Do you have a War Story you’d like to share? Send us an email or reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/warstories4/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

October 6, 2020

Rodrigo Prieto, ASC on The Glorias, Frida, working with Julie Taymor, Martin Scorsese, Alejandro González Iñárritu

When Rodrigo Prieto meets with a director, he comes with a clean slate and a present state of mind to hear their vision. Rodrigo first met Julie Taymor in New York to talk about filming Frida. He had just finished shooting Amores Perros with director Alejandro González Iñárritu and decided to move to Los Angeles from Mexico City. For Rodrigo, Frida Kahlo’s work was very influential, and he was eager to work on a film about her life. He found that Julie Taymor loves collaborating with her team on her movies and is open to other’s input, but knows what she wants and pushes for it. Working with a theatrical director means her ideas tend to be more representative and symbolic, rather than the naturalistic realism seen in most movies. For The Glorias, Rodrigo and Julie had to determine how realistically they wanted to portray some of the events in Gloria Steinem’s life. In one scene, Rodrigo and the crew had to recreate the tornado from The Wizard of Oz, with the four Glorias as the witches on brooms. The crew built a 70’s era TV studio, rigged lights and a green screen with a camera on a crane and the actresses on wires on brooms. They also decided early on to shoot the bus scenes in black and white, with color sequences showing outside the windows.

You can watch The Glorias streaming on Amazon Prime.

A new color timed version of Amores Perros will be coming out from Criterion Collection.

Find Rodrigo Prieto, Instagram: @rpstam

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep94/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

September 29, 2020

Director Julie Taymor on her new biopic film, The Glorias, her work on Frida, Titus, Across the Universe and the Broadway theatrical production of The Lion King

The incredibly talented Julie Taymor is nearly an EGOT- she’s won an Emmy, a Grammy, multiple Tony awards, and was Oscar-nominated for her work. She is a playwright, director, songwriter, and costume designer for both the stage and film. Julie is a rare thing- a theater director who can also helm amazing films. She thinks this is because most theater directors are really not very visual- they focus more on acting and dialog. When directing her films, Julie feels it’s important to be selective and understand what you can achieve with a camera such as with lenses and lighting, vs. what can be done on a stage like The Lion King with giant set pieces, puppets, props and costumes.

Julie’s latest film, The Glorias, is a biopic about women’s rights activist and feminist icon, Gloria Steinem. Julie worked with cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto and many visual effects artists to create several surrealist fantasy sequences in The Glorias. The film has a very imaginative and creative way of telling Gloria’s story, through multiple actors playing Steinem at different ages, who speak and interact with each other. In some scenes, the Glorias ride a Greyhound bus together to depict Steinem’s interior landscape through the stages of her life. Julie decided to use several different color motifs, working with red shoes as a wardrobe choice and sometimes black and white to help get her themes across. She took a similar approach in the film Frida, which used vibrant colors and specific materials such as chrome and steel to depict the different locations where Frida Kahlo traveled and worked.

You can watch The Glorias streaming on Amazon Prime September 30.

Find Julie Taymor: http://grandlarge.tv/directors/julie-taymor/

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep93/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

WIN a Sony A7SIII, Gitzo tripod and $100 Hot Rod Cameras gift card! Worth over $4,000, for one lucky winner! Follow us on Instagram @thecinepod and click on the link in bio to enter by September 29, 2020.

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

September 21, 2020

Ben Kutchins, Emmy-nominated cinematographer of Ozark, on creating the look of the show, working with Jason Bateman, the Veronica Mars movie, Mozart in the Jungle

Cinematographer Ben Kutchins feels that in filmmaking, you have to be fully committed to believing the story you’re telling, and your focus must be unwavering when shooting. There is no other story happening in the world other than the story you’re telling. This single-mindedness has served Ben well when shooting the series Ozark for Netflix, which is shot with very controlled light sources and camera movements. Every scene in the show is planned out carefully to reveal more about the story or the character. He and director/producer Jason Bateman wanted it to always look dark and shadowy, and many of the shots in the show are done as “oners,” or one long take. It might take seven to ten takes to get the oner, depending on how intricate it is. Before Ozark, Ben started off exploring still photography as a teen, then landed an internship at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), which led to a production assistant job at ILM. He had the opportunity to use the lab at Lucasfilm to experiment and process film to understand how it could look. But Ben knew his passion was film, so he enrolled at NYU Film School in order to learn more and work with other young filmmakers such as Rachel Morrison and Reed Morano. He shot about 60 short films in two years, then worked on several indie films before getting hired to shoot the Veronica Mars movie and then the Amazon series, Mozart in the Jungle. Shooting Mozart in the Jungle gave Ben the opportunity to work with and learn from very seasoned directors. He thinks working in television has been an amazing opportunity to collaborate with other DPs and that television has helped him develop a style and hone his craft.

You can find Ozark season three streaming on Netflix.

Find Ben Kutchins: http://www.benkutchins.com/
Instagram: @benkutchins

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep92/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

WIN a Sony A7SIII, Gitzo tripod and $100 Hot Rod Cameras gift card! Worth over $4,000, for one lucky winner! Follow us on Instagram @thecinepod and click on the link in bio to enter by September 29, 2020.

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

September 15, 2020

Armando Salas, ASC, on Ozark season 3, his Emmy-nominated episode, shooting the series Mr. Mercedes, From Dusk Til Dawn, Strange Angel

Armando Salas, ASC was recently nominated for an Emmy for his work on Ozark season three. Ozark is intentionally lit and shot to be very blue and very dark, because all the characters are in the shadows, desperately hiding and scrambling to avoid exposure. Armando began working on Ozark during season two and was already a fan of the show. He worked closely with director and actor Jason Bateman and the other DP on the series, Ben Kutchins. On season three, Armando shot the last four episodes with director Alik Sakharov. (Find our interview with Alik Sakharov here.) This four hour block of the show was a lot like shooting a film, and required him to refer to a detailed shot list, make many notes and continuously refer back to the script. As a kid, Armando grew up in Miami and was drawn to cinematography as a teenager, when he started shooting skateboarding videos. He studied fine arts and did a graduate program for film school, starting off his career as a gaffer before transitioning fully into cinematography. Armando shot several indie features and worked on a few films in China before landing his first episodic show, From Dusk Till Dawn, based on the film by Robert Rodriguez. For the Stephen King series Mr. Mercedes, Armando had the opportunity to create the look of the show, traveling to locations and deciding how to shoot it. The show quickly transitions from from loose and handheld at first, to very smooth and formal framing once the vehicle arrives on the scene. On the CBS show Strange Angel, Armando shot the second season. In this case, the whole look of the show was meant to feel different from the first season, with different cameras, lenses, and lighting.

You can find Ozark season three streaming on Netflix.

Find Armando Salas: https://www.salasfilm.com/
Instagram: @cinesalas

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep91/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

WIN a Sony A7SIII, Gitzo tripod and $100 Hot Rod Cameras gift card! Worth over $4,000, for one lucky winner! Follow us on Instagram @thecinepod and click on the link in bio to enter by September 29, 2020.

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

September 8, 2020

Mandy Walker, ASC, ACS on Mulan, Hidden Figures, Australia, Tracks, Shattered Glass, working with directors Niki Caro and Baz Luhrmann

Mandy Walker believes that her job as a cinematographer is not just to make pretty pictures, but to enhance an emotion with lenses, camera placement and lighting. She works on a gut and emotional level for films, getting across the feelings of the characters- a DP’s arsenal of tricks should only help convey what’s going on in the scene. For Mulan, Mandy and director Nikki Caro wanted to take a different approach from the Disney animated version, and were free to interpret the film as they wished. Mandy watched several Chinese action films such as House of Flying Daggers and went on location scouting trips to China to find the look and inspiration for the film. Mandy grew up in Australia and always loved photography, film and art, so she felt a passion to become a cinematographer right from the beginning. She skipped film school and began as a production assistant and loader in Australia, learning as she went on films such as Lantana, which was shot using almost only available light. Shattered Glass, which tells the true story of a journalist who made up the majority of his articles, was her first American film. Working with Baz Luhrmann on Australia was a huge jump into bigger budget movies, and she learned how to organize and delegate an entire camera department with multiple cameras. For the film Hidden Figures, Mandy worked closely with the costume designer and makeup artists to ensure that how the characters were dressed and what they looked like matched the feel of what each scene is meant to convey. She watched a lot of archival footage from NASA, some of which was used in the film, and was thrilled to meet Katherine Johnson, one of the real-life subjects of the film.

Mandy Walker is currently working with director Baz Luhrmann again on a forthcoming biography film about Elvis Presley.

See Mulan on Disney Plus

Find Mandy Walker: https://www.mandywalkerdp.com/
Instagram: @mandywalkerdp

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep90/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

WIN a Sony A7SIII, Gitzo tripod and $100 Hot Rod Cameras gift card! Worth over $4,000, for one lucky winner! Follow us on Instagram @thecinepod and click on the link in bio to enter by September 29, 2020.

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz