The Cinematography Podcast Episode 158: Cinematographer Linus Sandgren
Acclaimed cinematographer Linus Sandgren just happens to have two Oscar nominated films out right now- the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die and the Adam McKay satire, Don’t Look Up. Both films are extremely different from each other, and Linus was excited to work on both. Linus says that working on a Bond film is about creating a heightened reality, escapist adventure that romanticizes action and espionage. Don’t Look Up is also about creating a type of heightened reality, but in an absurd, satirical way that tells the truth.
Linus was very excited to shoot No Time to Die with director Cary Joji Fukunaga. Linus always tries to find a story and script that he hasn’t done before, and it was a new challenge for him to take on a film with so much action. They focused on making it their own Bond, rather than looking at previous James Bond films. No Time to Die even begins differently from past Bond films- instead of an action set piece, Linus and Fukunaga chose to create a horror movie feeling in the opening. For the opening sequences of No Time to Die, Linus set the creepy tone, choosing monochromatic grays and icy blue skies, and a very isolated location. By contrast, the very next action sequence featuring Bond is full of harsh bright sun washed in yellows and browns. For every film Linus shoots, he likes to have keywords for the emotions in the script to guide him in prep for different scenes, such as horror, grief, loss, humor, etc. and decides how to address those emotions visually. Linus and Fukunaga also discussed the expectations of a Bond film: an entertaining action-packed joyride, but still have No Time To Die act as a final chapter wrapping up Daniel Craig’s arc as James Bond.
Don’t Look Up is a disaster-movie satire film directed by Adam McKay. Linus felt the script was terrific and horrific at the same time, and it was clear to him that McKay wanted to comment on how people’s personal and political agendas cause them to ignore glaring problems, such as climate change, and hijack the actual solution that could save lives. Linus felt like it was an important and hilarious film to shoot. He decided that the visuals should feel like a political thriller, because the comedy and satire would come through in the writing. Linus would dolly in to create tension, use longer zooms to compress the shots, then go close up with a macro lens in order to get right on a character’s eyes. The shoot required a lot of extras, which was made even more challenging with COVID protocols. Linus had to be creative to figure out how to shoot with fewer extras, using longer lenses so the physical distancing wouldn’t be as apparent, and they often re-used the same actors in different scenes since they were in a quarantine bubble together.
Find Linus Sandgren: Instagram @linussandgren_dp
You can purchase and stream No Time to Die on AppleTV, Amazon, Vudu, or your preferred service. Don’t Look Up is available on Netflix.
Letters: Illya reads a letter from Damyan Dongov, a fan in Bulgaria. Here is a link to Damyan’s cinematography podcast, Образи, “Obrazi” meaning Images. Give a listen if you speak Bulgarian!
Close Focus: The lastest episode of The Book of Boba Fett featured an entirely deep fake facial mapping of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and with a voice created from Mark Hamill’s recordings in the ’80’s using digital voice creation technology called Respeecher.
Ben’s short end: We Need to Talk About Cosby on Showtime is about all the terrible things Bill Cosby did as an alleged sexual predator as well as all the great things he did as an African American comic. It’s brilliant because it explores a complex man and a complicated subject.
Illya’s short end: Ozark Season Four was broken up into two parts, possibly so that the show can be eligible for two different Emmy award seasons. The second part does not have an airdate yet. It continues to be a tightly woven, nail-biting story.
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Producer: Alana Kode
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Host and editor in Chief: Illya Friedman
Instagram: @illyafriedman @hotrodcameras
Host: Ben Rock
Editor: Ben Katz
Composer: Kays Al-Atrakchi