The Cinematography Podcast Episode 214: Xavier Dolléans
Cinematographer Xavier Dolléans has worked extensively in France on films, commercials, music videos and the award-winning French series, Germinal. The Peacock show Mrs. Davis marks his move into working on more U.S. based productions. Xavier was the DP for the Spain unit of the show. He enjoys working in narrative storytelling, where he can tell longer stories and find a look that creates the rhythm of the story.
Mrs. Davis is a humorous, dramatic and action-packed science fiction show about a powerful artificial intelligence known as Mrs. Davis. The algorithm has taken control of most people’s every day lives, and they worship Mrs. Davis with cultlike devotion. An unconventional nun, Sister Simone, has made a deal with the AI to find and destroy the Holy Grail in return for it destroying itself.
Xavier began five weeks of prep in Spain for Mrs. Davis, which takes place across the globe. The production shot in several different parts of Spain to stand in for other countries, such as Scotland. The northern part of Spain looked enough like Scotland and was far less cold and rainy. Xavier worked with a mix of American and Spanish crew. The production used U.S. production standards, with very little overlap between departments, but with European labor rules of working just 8-10 hours per day.
When Xavier first read the script for Mrs. Davis, he could understand what was happening in each scene, but the overarching story was extremely complex, exciting and unpredictable. He enjoyed the depth of the story which is only revealed a tiny bit at a time. Xavier was able to give hints with camera framing and movement of what is really happening or what a character is thinking. A camera move can reveal a lot in each episode, and all of the visuals were intentional and carefully shotlisted. Xavier and cinematographer Joe Anderson used Caldwell anamorphic lenses, which created the flare and bokeh they were looking for.
Xavier began his career in filmmaking working in visual effects. He had the opportunity to spend time on set as an assistant director, and discovered he liked the job of DOP because it combined the technical with the artistic point of view of the story. Xavier sees filmmaking as a lifestyle for the mind and the body. It’s important to stay educated and up-to-date on new systems and techniques, and to keep your body healthy and well rested so you’re in the best condition for the job.
Mrs. Davis is currently streaming on Peacock.
Find Xavier Dolléans: Instagram: @xavier_dolleans
Close Focus: We’re finally catching up with “Deep Fake Drake”; the AI- created song, “Heart on My Sleeve” mashup of Drake and The Weeknd.
Ben’s short end: The World’s Greatest Con podcast hosted by Brian Brushwood. It is currently on Season 3, “Project Alpha.”
Illya’s short end: Illya’s former film school, San Francisco State, is highly ranked on some best film school lists. Film schools continue to be a training ground for the future.
Listen to Ben’s new horror series Catchers, available NOW only on Audible!
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