February 19, 2022

Special Episode: Sundance 2022- Sirens director Rita Baghdadi

The Cinematography Podcast Sundance 2022 Special: Sirens

Sirens is an intimate coming of age documentary focused on Lilas Mayassi and Shery Bechara, guitarists and co-founders of Slave to Sirens, the Middle East’s first all-female thrash metal band. The documentary follows the band as they rehearse and play concerts, rebelling against the country’s criticisms and stereotypes about women and heavy metal music. The relationships between bandmates is complicated, but they find an outlet in their music amid violent protests, fires and bombings in Beirut, Lebanon.

Documentarian Rita Baghdadi had set out to find a story based in the Middle East or North Africa because her family background is Morrocan. In 2018 she found Slave to Sirens’ EP online, saw photos of the band, and felt drawn to tell a story about the five women. The band was looking for press opportunities, and they welcomed Rita and her camera. None of them, including Rita, were sure Sirens would become a feature length documentary. Rita made several trips to Beirut from the U.S. to shoot and direct the documentary on her own, with just one camera, over a period of three years. She enjoys making intimate verite films, and unobtrusively focuses on the emotions in each scene. Rita was able to spend enough time with the band to weave a compelling documentary about independent women in the agony and ecstasy of their 20’s, creating their own world to escape the chaos of their reality.

Sirens premiered at the Sundance 2022 Film Festival and is seeking sales and distribution.

Find director Rita Baghdadi http://www.ritabaghdadi.com/
Instagram: @ritaamal
Instagram: @sirensdocumentary

Find the band, Slave to Sirens: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9EMD9pTtjJ4P1p7b2V4j2w

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

February 8, 2022

Special Episode: Sundance 2022- Blood director Bradley Rust Gray and cinematographer Eric Lin

The film Blood is about Chloe, a woman who travels to Japan for her work as a photographer, just a couple of years after the death of her husband. She meets up with her Japanese friend Toshi who is interested in turning their friendship into a relationship, and she needs to decide if she is ready to welcome romantic love back into her life. Blood is a quiet and contemplative movie about human relationships, and unfolds slowly through Chloe’s conversations, interactions and dreams.

Director Bradley Rust Gray and cinematographer Eric Lin had worked together before on Brad’s film, The Exploding Girl. A lot of Blood was improvised, and Brad used the script mainly as an outline short of a few scenes needed for exposition. They found opportunities to weave in the dreams Chloe has about her past with her husband in Iceland. Eric and Brad wanted everything to feel very naturalistic, as if the camera is eavesdropping. Eric chose to shoot much of it on very long lenses, as though shooting a nature documentary. They wanted Blood to feel like the audience is present with Chloe the whole time, peering in on moments in her life.

Blood premiered at the Sundance 2022 Film Festival and was the Special Jury Award winner for Uncompromising Artistic Vision. Blood is seeking sales and distribution.

Find director Bradley Rust Gray: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0336486/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Find cinematographer Eric Lin: https://eric-lin.com/
Instagram @holdtheframe

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

February 7, 2022

Special Episode: Sundance 2022- Gentle directors Anna Eszter Nemes and László Csuja

Gentle tells the story of Edina, a Hungarian woman bodybuilder pushing her body to the limit. Her relentless trainer is also her boyfriend, determined to make her a world champion, and he controls her entire life. Edina secretly turns to a specialty escort service to earn enough money for all her supplements and special drugs, where she finds comfort and begins falling for one client in particular. Real-life bodybuilder Eszter Csonka does an excellent job of expressing the emotional state of Edina as her feelings awaken.

Directors Anna Eszter Nemes and László Csuja wanted Gentle’s message to be that love makes you human and free. Bodybuilding takes a huge physical and emotional toll on Edina’s life, and becoming an escort enables her to find a new kind of freedom and intimacy in her life. Anna and László wanted the movie to be very still and methodical in its pacing, because bodybuilding is not about words, it’s about making the body into a work of art. As a painter, Anna had explored the world of female bodybuilders and it intrigued her enough to start writing the film with co-director László. They worked closely with their DP, Zágon Nagy and decided to visually separate her gym life from her personal life as an escort, using more color and camera movement when she begins to get in touch with her feelings, versus a locked-off camera with extreme close ups when she is working out or competing.

Gentle premiered at the Sundance 2022 Film Festival and is seeking sales and U.S. distribution.

Find director Anna Eszter Nemes: https://www.cineuropa.org/en/film/419980/

Find director László Csuja: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3773806/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

January 31, 2022

Special Episode: Sundance 2022- My Old School documentary director Jono McLeod

Director Jono McLeod’s stranger-than-fiction documentary My Old School tells the story of his former classmate, Brandon Lee. In 1993, a new kid joined Jono McLeod’s high school class at Bearsden Academy in Glasgow, Scotland. 16-year-old Brandon claimed to have been privately tutored in Canada and was incredibly smart, getting great grades and setting his sights on going to medical school. He befriended several of his classmates and became quite popular, even starring in the school play. But two years later, it was discovered that Brandon was not everything he appeared to be, and his secret identity became a national scandal in Scotland.

Jono had regaled friends with the tale of Brandon Lee and his old school for years before he decided it would make a good documentary subject. Brandon consented to being interviewed for the movie, but on the condition that he was not shown. Jono decided to use an actor to stand in for the real Brandon Lee and have the actor lip synch Brandon’s actual words. Years before, Alan Cumming was slated to star in a fictionalized film about Brandon Lee, but the movie had fallen through. Fortunately, Jono is also friends with Cumming, so he asked him if he would like to be in the documentary, albeit without using his own voice. Cumming was happy to accept the challenge and they used a method of reverse-ADR to record his lip synch of Brandon’s words with perfect accuracy. For My Old School, Jono re-built his old classroom as a set for the interviews and invited his former high school classmates to participate. He knew he wanted to tell the story from the perspective of the people who were there and for My Old School to have a sense of humor and lightness to it, so Jono decided to use animation sequences for depicting any flashback scenes. He wanted to evoke the look of popular animation styles from high school shows of the 1990’s and he used the popular MTV series Daria as an inspiration.

My Old School premiered at the Sundance 2022 Film Festival and is seeking sales and distribution.

Find director Jono McLeod: #jonomcleod

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

January 30, 2022

Special Episode: Sundance 2022- God’s Country director Julian Higgins, writer Shaye Ogbonna and cinematographer Andrew Wheeler

God’s Country, starring Thandiwe Newton, is about Sandra, a Black woman college professor living alone who is dealing with the recent loss of her mother and the subtle and not-so-subtle racism and sexism in a cold, remote Western town. Two hunters boldly start trespassing on her property, and when she asks them to stop, it begins a tense and escalating clash of uncompromising aggression by both parties.

Director Julian Higgins and cinematographer Andrew Wheeler had previously made God’s Country as a short in 2014, based on the short story Winter Light by James Lee Burke. When Julian began thinking about turning the story into a feature, he connected with writer and fellow AFI graduate Shaye Ogbonna to reimagine the story with a Black woman rather than a white man as the central character. As co-writers, Shaye and Julian had long conversations about what they valued and cared about in their own lives. They wanted to take a big bite out of contemporary themes of racism and sexism and still tell a contained thriller story. Together, they wrote and reworked the script for months, knowing they wanted to show everything on the screen with little dialog. They wanted the audience to feel the tension escalate as the movie builds to what feels like its inevitable conclusion.

Envisioning this inevitability and seeing everything happen rather than telling through dialog meant knowing exactly where to place the camera. Cinematographer Andrew Wheeler was involved right from the beginning, which helped everyone maintain the same vision. Julian listened to Andrew’s instincts and suggestions, so the whole process was very collaborative. Andrew also lives in Montana, where the film was shot, so he is intimately familiar with how to photograph those surroundings. He expressed Sandra’s extreme aloneness in long shots against the mountains and snow, or gazing out from her house onto the vastness of the landscape. Andrew felt that he was able to put his time and best work on the screen.

God’s Country premiered at the Sundance 2022 Film Festival and is seeking sales and distribution.

Find director Julian Higgins: https://julianh.com/gods-country
Instagram: @filmjulian

Find writer Shaye Ogbonna https://www.imdb.com/name/nm4252592/
Twitter: @ShizzleObizzle

Find cinematographer Andrew Wheeler: http://www.wheelsdp.com/
Instagram: @wheels41215

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

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

July 21, 2021

War Stories Vol. 7: Tales from the Set featuring Wally Pfister, Phedon Papamichael, Ross Emery, Shane Hurlbut, Alice Brooks, Robbie Ryan, Christian Sebaldt, Lachlan Milne, Armando Salas, Jas Shelton, and Brandon Trost

Special: The Cinematography Podcast- War Stories Vol. 7

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

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

Both cinematographers Wally Pfister, ASC and Phedon Papamichael, ASC have war stories about working on Roger Corman films in their early careers; Ross Emery, ACS talks about the groundbreaking experience of shooting bullet time for The Matrix; Shane Hurlbut, ASC on how he was convinced to shoot Drumline; Alice Brooks on how she made her decision to become a DP; Robbie Ryan, BSC, ISC reflects on experiencing personal tragedy while working on The Favourite; Christian Sebaldt, ASC had to get extremely creative with lighting a dim military barracks; Lachlan Milne, ACS, NZCS, on shooting Minari in extreme summer heat; Armando Salas, ASC also has a story on filming in high temperatures; cinematographer Jas Shelton talks about working with actor John C. Reilly on Cyrus; and finally, director and cinematographer Brandon Trost’s story about meeting Lorne Michaels in a pre-production meeting for MacGruber.

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/warstories7/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Instagram: @thecinepod
Facebook: @cinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

May 26, 2021

War Stories Vol. 6: Tales from the Set featuring Jim Frohna, Bruce Van Dusen, Randy Thom, Adam Somner, Paul Cameron, Xavier Grobet, Eric Branco, Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, Maryse Alberti, John Benam, Roberto Schaefer and Ben Rock

Special: The Cinematography Podcast- War Stories Vol. 6

In our sixth War Stories Special, we feature twelve guest’s harrowing, hilarious, heartbreaking or heartwarming stories they had while on set, or a formative career experience that led them to the film industry.

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

Cinematographer Jim Frohna was thrown into the DP position at the last minute on a commercial; director Bruce Van Dusen on getting his first big Crazy Eddie commercial; sound designer Randy Thom on gathering sound in the field for The Right Stuff; 1st AD Adam Somner’s story about his footrace with Russell Crowe while horsing around on the Gladiator set; cinematographer Paul Cameron on shooting the ending of Tony Scott’s Man on Fire; Xavier Grobet talks about one of his first film experiences working on Total Recall; DP Eric Branco’s crazy job working on a music video in Tanzania; cinematographer Tommy Maddox-Upshaw and the American crew get deported from Canada; Maryse Alberti on shooting the documentary Me & Isaac Newton with director Michael Apted and their emotional experience at an AIDS clinic in Africa; John Benam on his harrowing adventures in Sudan as a National Geographic wildlife cinematographer; one of Roberto Schaefer’s shoot days on Quantum of Solace got spectacularly interrupted; and finally, Ben Rock talks about an early experience as an art department production assistant.

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/warstories6/

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

April 23, 2021

Bonus Episode: The Truffle Hunters documentary filmmakers Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw

In case you missed it, we are re-releasing our interview with filmmakers Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw on their documentary, The Truffle Hunters from 2020’s Sundance Film Festival. The film recently received the ASC Documentary Award.

Filmmakers Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw ventured deep in the forests near Alba, Italy for their documentary, The Truffle Hunters. This region is known for its rare white truffles, fetching thousands of dollars for the acclaimed delicacy. The methods of where and how to find truffles is a closely guarded secret. This small group of elderly men seek them in darkness, hiking for miles with their dogs and covering their tracks so no one knows where they go. The film is beautifully composed and uses mostly natural light. The filmmakers chose to keep the camera on a tripod and to observe the subjects at a distance, except for special leather harness rigs for POV doggy-cams that Dweck and Kershaw had specially made.

You can find The Truffle Hunters in select theaters and available to rent on video on demand in the coming weeks. https://www.sonyclassics.com/film/thetrufflehunters/
Instagram: @thetrufflehuntersfilm
Find Michael Dweck: Twitter @michaeldweck Instagram @michaeldweckstudio
Find Gregory Kershaw: Instagram @gregorykershaw

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

LIKE AND FOLLOW US, send fan mail or suggestions!
Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

April 20, 2021

Jenelle Riley, Variety’s Deputy Awards and Features Editor, discusses the 2021 Academy Awards nominations

Jenelle Riley, Variety’s Deputy Awards and Features Editor, discusses the 2021 Academy Awards nominations

Long-time friend and colleague Jenelle Riley of Variety magazine chats with Ben and Illya about Oscar nominations for this very unusual year. They discuss what they liked, what will win, what should win, and their favorite movies of the year that may not have been recognized.

Some of the nominations discussed in this episode:

Judas and the Black Messiah, Sound of Metal, Nomadland, News of the World, The Trial of the Chicago Seven, Mank, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Minari, Promising Young Woman, The Father, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Hillbilly Elegy

Jenelle Riley on Twitter, Instagram: @jenelleriley

LIKE AND FOLLOW US, send fan mail or suggestions!
Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

February 1, 2021

BONUS Episode: Director and cinematographer John Bailey, ASC on Groundhog Day, Ordinary People, and his past tenure as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

It’s Groundhog Day! Director and cinematographer John Bailey, ASC sat down with us before the pandemic to discuss his work on the film, Groundhog Day, and briefly touched on his other work.

John Bailey feels that the screenplay is the most important part of a film. It can be a leap of faith to work with a first time director, when they don’t have a body of work, so a good script is always a solid starting point. As the DP of Ordinary People, John noticed the craftsmanship of that particular screenplay, which was carefully written and structured for several years by screenwriter Alvin Sargent and first-time director Robert Redford. He knew right away it would become a meaningful and important film. Both Sargent and Redford won Academy Awards for their work as screenwriter and director, respectively, and Ordinary People won the Best Picture Oscar.

Groundhog Day grabbed John immediately as an interesting and offbeat idea for a film, but no one guessed that it would actually become part of the film canon and popular culture. To this day, John is surprised when people tell him how much they like that film and how much it has touched people. The movie famously had its own chaos, since star Bill Murray and director Harold Ramis had a very combative relationship on set.

John spent two years as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His passion was in furthering the Academy Film Archive, the Margaret Herrick Library, and other AMPAS charitable projects. He became frustrated with the industry’s focus on the Academy’s role in the Oscars and how much punditry went into how to fix the awards process.

Currently, John continues to work as a cinematographer and director.

You can watch Groundhog Day all day long on Feb. 2 on AMC, or stream it (for a fee) on Amazon, Sling TV, or YouTube.

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

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