The Cinematography Podcast Episode 187: Charlie Sarroff

Cinematographer Charlie Sarroff loves to shoot horror movies, and he knew when he read the script for the horror film, Smile, that it would be fun, gory and dark. This week (10/12/2022) Smile is still the number one movie in America, with the biggest opening of September and the highest box office take overall for its second straight week. Charlie and Smile director Parker Finn first met at a SXSW event, where each had movies showing at the festival. They found they had similar tastes and sensibilities. Finn loved Charlie’s previous work on the horror film Relic and asked Charlie to be Smile’s cinematographer. Movies such as The Ring, It Follows and Rosemary’s Baby were big influences on their approach to Smile. Charlie chose to build a sense of suspense with camera movement, so the audience feels as though a lurking presence was there at all times. They almost exclusively used wide lenses and no over the shoulder shots so that the character of Rose would always feel isolated. Every scene Rose is in, she is meant to feel disconnected from other people. Smiles were also a big motif in the film, of course, and served as a metaphor for the masks everyone wears.

As a kid, Charlie really loved skateboarding and video production became a big part of it. He had a camcorder and recorded skate videos of his friends. Charlie knew early on that he enjoyed shooting and editing more than directing, and he decided to go to film school in Melbourne. Friends in film school asked him to shoot their movies and he worked his way up, filming music videos and commercials. Charlie’s biggest break came when director Natalie Erika James asked him to shoot her short film Creswick which she expanded into the feature film Relic and was picked up by IFC. At first, the film’s backers wanted to go with someone more experienced to shoot Relic, but Charlie prevailed and the film ended up going to Sundance and SXSW.

Find Charlie Sarroff Instagram: @charlie_sarroff

Close Focus: The producers of Rust and Alec Baldwin reached a settlement with the family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was killed accidentally during the movie shoot. Her husband will now become an executive producer on the film. Production will resume in January 2023.

Ben’s short end: Ben recently watched the Scriptation Pro Series with director Pete Chatmon, called Directing Episodic Television. Chatmon mentioned a book that influenced him: Directors Tell The Story: Master the Craft of Television and Film Directing which Ben has begun reading.

Illya’s short end: While on a plane, Illya recently rewatched Edge of Tomorrow, which is the Groundhog Day of sci fi movies. Even though it came out in 2104, on rewatching it, Illya found it to be very tight, and a masterful work of editing and scripting.

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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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