The Cinematography Podcast Episode 180: Cybel Martin

Cinematographer Cybel Martin believes that great cinematography comes from a place of trust between the director, DP and crew. Great art can be created when someone says: this is my vision and I trust you to make it happen. Cybel especially loves horror movies, because it’s the best genre for cinematographers to try out visuals that are not based in reality. The opening scene always establishes the visual rules, no matter how weird. You start from scratch and play with how you see the story, and with a good script you can naturally visualize the world. Horror films underscore symbolism and dramatize emotions even more than dramas, and good horror movies still have solid character development even without a supernatural element.

Cybel had the opportunity to work in the horror genre on the show American Horror Stories (Season 1) and most recently on the Amazon Prime movie, Black As Night. Black As Night is about an African American teenage girl who battles a band of vampires who prey on the homeless and drug addicted in New Orleans. Cybel wanted to lean into the richness, color and texture of New Orleans and was inspired by the thematic colors of purple, green, and gold.

The new Amazon Prime series, A League of Their Own, is an historic drama and comedy about the first women’s professional baseball league in the 1940’s. Though the series has the same name as the 1992 movie, the production team never wanted to replicate the film. Their reference material was all of the historical research, photographs, and real stories from the time. Cybel is interested in 1940’s films, sports, and female athletes so there were many elements in the show that she was excited to explore. She shot three of the episodes and her favorite one, “Over the Rainbow” features one of the characters going to an underground speakeasy. Cybel loves the idea of speakeasies and house parties- a place that is secret, where you can be bold, naughty and intimate, but also have a place for community. They shot the speakeasy scenes in just a day and a half, with two steadicam operators, and played with shutter angles and color palette in the dance sequences, with In The Mood For Love as an inspiration for the colors. As a painter and photographer, Cybel was also grateful she could bring her own aesthetic to the project.

Cybel’s latest project is Beacon 23, a new futuristic sci-fi series set to air in 2023.

Find Cybel Martin

Instagram & Twitter: @cybeldp

Close Focus: HBO Max is removing content from their streaming platform, including much of their original content.

Ben’s short end: A website, Texture Labs, offers tutorials on Photoshop and AfterEffects, as well as on their YouTube channel. It’s a great resource for those who are editing and need to do title design.

The SNL Papyrus sketch Illya referred to.

Illya’s short end: What We Do In the Shadows on Hulu is still going strong in its fourth season.

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Instagram: @thecinepod

Twitter: @ShortEndz


Podcast Credits:

Producer: Alana Kode

All web and social media content written by Alana Kode

Host and editor in Chief:  Illya Friedman

Instagram: @illyafriedman @hotrodcameras

Host: Ben Rock

Twitter: @neptunesalad

Instagram: @bejamin_rock

Editor: Ben Katz

Composer: Kays Al-Atrakchi

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