The Cinematography Podcast Episode 193: Autumn Durald Arkapaw
Unsurprisingly, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has been a huge hit, and cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw was excited to join the crew. She had worked with Marvel on the Disney+ series Loki and felt her creative vision on the show was really supported there. Autumn felt ready to step into a huge movie like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever after she spoke with original Black Panther DP Rachel Morrison and meeting with director Ryan Coogler. Rachel and Autumn were friends from AFI, and Rachel was not available to shoot the sequel as she has been transitioning into directing. Director Ryan Coogler had Autumn join the Black Panther team early for storyboarding and previs for the movie. She and Coogler had lots of time to discuss the images and were on the same page visually. Even though the movie has a huge scope and a massive amount of people making the film, Autumn felt like her ideas were supported and her images were well represented on screen. She was able to closely collaborate with the VFX team and production designer Hannah Beachler right from the beginning. For the underwater sequences in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, she and director Coogler worked hard to make the underwater scenes look as real as possible. They shot many tests with the actors in water tanks, and then with the characters dry on a stage, filming many of the scenes twice- both wet and dry. The VFX crew could then use a reference of the actor actually in water to recreate the proper underwater light and movement.
Early in her career, Autumn worked on many projects for free both during and after film school, so that anyone could find her and see who she was through her visual approach. She approaches each film with passion, putting all of her creative energy into her work. Autumn’s breakout early work was on director Gia Coppola’s indie film, Palo Alto. The two bonded and worked together on more projects, and Autumn met director Spike Jonze through her. She worked with Jonze on Aziz Ansari: Right Now, a Netflix standup special, and Beastie Boys Story, a 2020 documentary about the band.
Autumn enjoys framing her shots with symmetry and low angles, with a lower eyeline, pointing towards the ceiling rather than the floor. For the series Loki on Disney+, she shot a lot of scenes from below, but the production designer Kasra Farahani embraced it, creating visually interesting ceilings that could be rigged with controlled lighting. They worked together to create a space in the Time Variance Authority (TVA) that felt full, with motivated light. Building practical ceilings was a big part of their design discussions during production meetings. Normally on a set, the ceiling is not built and isn’t ever seen, so adding it to the set design always adds to the cost. Autumn knew that shooting low in those spaces would create the desired effect of something looming over you.
In her personal life, Autumn is married to a fellow cinematographer, Adam Arkapaw and the two have a young son. They enjoy talking about their work together and nerding out about film. As a family, they always have to carefully consider the projects that they take on because of time away from each other and raising their child. Autumn enjoys working on smaller projects and commercials as well, because it’s nice to shoot something faster, shorter and usually closer to home.
Find Autumn Durald Arkapaw Instagram: @addp
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently playing in theaters
Close Focus: Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek has been replaced by previous CEO, Bob Iger. Meanwhile, Disney’s new movie Strange World hasn’t done very well at the box office. In awards news, Everything Everywhere All At Once won Best Feature at the Gotham awards.
Ben’s short end: Andor on Disney+.
Illya’s short end: Tokyo Vice on HBO Max.
Listen to Ben’s new horror series Catchers, available NOW only on Audible!
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