The Cinematography Podcast Episode 222: Jon Joffin

Jon Joffin, ASC has learned the importance of staying creative, committed and inspired during shoots. In his long career as a cinematographer, Jon has learned how to work on a team, manage people, and surround himself with those who really care about their craft.

When he was first starting out, Jon was hired as a second unit camera operator on The X-Files. Prior to that, he had only worked on music videos and smaller films. The X-Files was a huge show at the time, and Jon quickly moved up to DP for several episodes. The dark and bold look was extremely cinematic, with its signature scenes of bobbing flashlights in the dark woods. The X-Files search for dark secrets set it apart from most high-key sitcoms and workplace dramas that were popular at the time, and it opened up many new opportunities for Jon’s career.

For the series Star Trek: Picard season 3, the series creators decided they wanted a big, rich cinematic look for the show. In the previous two seasons, the ship had been lit overhead with sky panels, giving it a flatter look. Jon chose bigger, softer light sources and fewer cameras that could focus on the faces of the well-known actors who were reuniting from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He wanted to get good close-ups that would capture their performances and their ease of working together. It was also important to make it look and feel like a realistic spacecraft and not a set. The crew rebuilt the Starship Enterprise set for the show, and it needed to be lit in a similar way that people remembered from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Jon brightened up the lights on that set so that it was a closer match to the original Enterprise.

The Apple TV+ series Schmigadoon! is about a couple who gets lost while backpacking and find themselves in a magical world of musical theater. Season Two finds the couple trying to get back to Schmigadoon, but they end up in Schmicago instead. Jon was excited to work on Schmigadoon! season 2, because he loves musicals and had previously shot one for Netflix called Julie and the Phantoms. Schmigadoon! season 2 is based on darker musicals than season 1, such as Chicago, Cabaret and Sweeney Todd, interspersed with 70’s musicals Godspell and Hair. Jon met with showrunner Cinco Paul, who wrote the Despicable Me and Minions movies and who wrote the songs and scripts for season 2. They decided to use a bright, Technicolor look, with a soft contrast, while also working in darker, vibrant tones for the more harrowing musicals.

Jon Joffin just received an Emmy nomination for his work on Schmigadoon! season 2. You can find it on Apple TV+

Star Trek: Picard is on Paramount Plus.

Find Jon Joffin: Instagram: @jonjoffin

Close Focus: SAG president Fran Drescher took a trip to Italy in the middle of SAG’s contract negotiations with the AMPTP. Also, a writer at GQ wrote a scathing article about CEO of Warner Discovery David Zaslov that was taken down, possibly because the editor of GQ is producing a movie for Warner Bros.

Ben’s short end: Kays Al-Atrakchi just directed, edited, color corrected and made CGI effects for a music video called Summoner by the band Snakes of Russia.

JSFILMZ on YouTube has done a lot of demos to show what can be done with Metahuman by Unreal Engine.

Illya’s short end: Fired on Mars, a new animated TV show on Max.

Listen to Ben’s new horror series Catchersavailable NOW only on Audible!

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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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