The Cinematography Podcast Episode 115: Andrew Dunn, BSC
Andrew Dunn always tries to transport the audience into the screen, setting the right tone to capture the time and place of the film. He’s drawn to character-driven movies in particular, and he likes to make the viewer feel like they are the person’s friend.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday is an intimate look at the singer during the latter part of her career, when she was battling drug addiction and under constant scrutiny by the FBI, who had targeted her over her controversial song, “Strange Fruit.” Andrew and director Lee Daniels really wanted to capture the emotional journey Billie Holiday was going through, especially in the scene where actress Andra Day sings “Strange Fruit.” Andrew held on her face with an extreme close up as she sings the song and connects with the camera. The moment is transporting, and the entire cast and crew realized that particular scene was something extraordinary.
Andrew had previously shot another film featuring a singer: the 1992 film The Bodyguard, starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. He remembers her performing “I Will Always Love You” in a beautiful single take, and the entire room was transfixed. The Bodyguard was the biggest movie of that year, and Andrew’s career as a cinematographer took off.
As a kid, Andrew always wanted to be a cinematographer. He grew up around cinema, as his father worked for MGM studios outside of London. Hungry and desperate to get into the business, he began working for the BBC as an editor, and was able to shoot on documentaries and in local news. Andrew’s first “Hollywood” movie was the epitome of Los Angeles- the 1991 movie L.A. Story, starring Steve Martin. It is a movie so about L.A.- a warm love letter and a biting satire at the same time. Andrew thinks coming from the UK to shoot a movie about a place he’d never been before brought a fresh perspective. He always wants to bring a sense of wide-eyed wonder to the world, and L.A. Story perfectly blends absurdity, wonder and magic.
You can watch The United States vs. Billie Holiday currently streaming on Hulu.
Find Andrew Dunn: Instagram @andrewdunn.dp
Close Focus: The Golden Globes and the most recent exposé on the Hollywood Foreign Press and its lack of diversity, as written in the Los Angeles Times. Illya and Ben have suggestions on how to fix the organization.
Illya’s short end: The Hot Rod Cameras YouTube Channel has been getting more active with camera reviews. Hot Rod Cameras recently reviewed the Sony FX 6 and then the Sony FX 3, which is now the smallest full-frame digital camera. Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel and give any suggestions about the videos you’d like to see there.
Ben’s short end: The end of Cinefex Magazine, which was first published in 1980. The quarterly magazine went into deep dives about the special effects in movies. FX Guide and The Corridor Crew have now become the defacto guide to special effects.
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