The Cinematography Podcast Episode 142: Cinematographer Maz Makhani
The new Netflix movie, The Guilty follows Jake Gyllenhaal as Joe Baylor, an LAPD police detective who has been demoted to working at a call center as a 911 dispatcher. The film was shot during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in November of 2020 in just 11 days with a very small cast and crew on a controlled soundstage. Additional actors remotely voiced their roles as 911 callers seeking help.
Cinematographer Maz Makhani and director Antoine Fuqua had about one day of prep together before they started shooting. Maz and Fuqua walked through the set with Gyllenhaal for rehearsal while working out the blocking and coverage. Once the shoot day arrived, Fuqua could not physically be present as he had to quarantine after a COVID scare. He ended up directing the film remotely from a van parked outside. They wanted the film to have a “God’s Eye” perspective, so Maz used a very wide lens that showed the entire room. Antoine and Maz both favor a high-contrast lighting style that helped the dark subject matter, making the film feel real and raw. They mainly used the ambient light from the screens on the set and three digital cameras so that it had a more live and urgent feel. Since Antoine could not be on set, it was fortunate they chose digital so that he could see what was happening via a remote feed in real time and could communicate via text, cell phone and radio.
Maz’s next project is a documentary about the Lakers with Antoine Fuqua.
Find Maz Makhani: Instagram @mazmakhani_dp
You can see The Guilty on Netflix
Illya’s short end: Leitz is now manufacturing a new lens called the ELSIE which is an Arri LPL mount lenses that will soon be available for purchase. It will probably begin shifting the industry away from the PL mount system.
Ben’s short end: A previsualization tool called Backlot that uses video game level graphics for blocking, deciding focus, overheads, can use it practically on set. The backgrounds can be built really quickly and can be dropped right in to the shot set design.
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