The Cinematography Podcast Episode 234: Mark Patten
Cinematographer Mark Patten, BSC’s most recent project, Silo, is a post-apocalyptic science fiction drama that’s been a huge success for AppleTV+. The thousands of people who live in the silo don’t know why the silo exists, who built it, or why the world outside is uninhabitable. Citizens who express a desire to go outside, or are convicted of a crime, are sent outside to “clean” the cameras and never survive. After being recruited as the new silo sheriff, engineer Juliette starts to uncover shocking secrets and the truth about the silo.
Silo was shot in Essex, England in a huge former cold storage facility. The set had to be completely built out, retrofitting the space into a working film stage. Lighting rigs were hung even before the sets were built so that the set building and production design crew could see in such a huge dark space. The production crew built three working levels of the actual silo set, complete with the spiral staircase. Mark found the richness of the set decoration created a lived-in, worn down place that made the silo itself seem like a character. Everything is very analog or “lo-fi sci-fi” in this dystopian world. It was interesting to think about how society would act together, in a closed vessel, and maintain their sanity in a locked in culture, especially after just coming out of the pandemic. Mark thought of the Silo as a slow ship moving through time, and it felt like shooting a submarine film. The central staircase acts as a helix through the society of the silo, and Juliette is climbing her way up through the layers of it to solve a mystery.
Mark worked alongside production designer Gavin Bocquet to visualize the Silo’s society, honing in and letting the visuals sing. He decided to subtly use different color palettes for each level. It was a great way to add texture to the images, with the mechanical level becoming very desaturated, except for some touches of bright yellow and orange glow from the heat of the power generators. Since the silo is a mile down into the ground, there is no natural light at all, and Mark needed to figure out what would motivate the light all the way at the bottom. He decided the lighting in the top of the silo would be strongest, and the light would filter down from there. Practical lights were built in everywhere throughout the set and as characters descend to the lowest level of mechanical, the practical lights are the only source. Since every light source was designed and built in, there was no hard light anywhere to manipulate, so for Mark it was an exercise in restraint manipulating reflective light.
Mark recently finished shooting Season 2 of Andor on Disney+.
Silo is available to stream on AppleTV+.
Find Mark Patten: Instagram: @kiesh
Close Focus: The Writers Guild strike has ended, and WGA membership is happy with the deal. Right now, SAG is still on strike.
Ben’s short end: Emma Thompson justifies what Ben has been saying all along, that the word “content” is rude in this New York Times article. The word entertainment fits much better as a broad term, and is more respectful to all artists.
Illya’s short end: U2 performed live inside The Sphere in Las Vegas. The Sphere is basically a large dome of video walls. Logistically, it would be really difficult to shoot material for projection in the space.
Listen to Ben’s new horror series Catchers, available NOW only on Audible!
Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras
Sponsored by Greentree Creative: If you enjoy The Cinematography Podcast and you’re interested in growing or starting your own podcast, contact Alana Kode at Greentree Creative. Greentree Creative can help you with social media marketing, strategy and planning, podcast production, and digital content creation.
LIKE AND FOLLOW US, send fan mail or suggestions! Rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts!
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
Editor: Ben Katz
Composer: Kays Al-Atrakchi