The Cinematography Podcast Episode 236: Eric Steelberg
Cinematographer Eric Steelberg, ASC has always loved movies, which is what led him to a career as a director of photography. He tries to find compelling film and television projects, putting his own stamp on the story’s visuals.
Back in 2006, Eric was at the beginning of his career as a DP when he shot the small independent film, Quinceañera which won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury prize at Sundance that year. It was shot in HD, which was very new technology at the time, especially for smaller films. After Quinceañera, Eric’s career began to take off. He’d been a frequent collaborator with director Jason Reitman, whom he met shooting commercials and smaller projects, but not films. Working on Quinceañera gave Eric more credibility as a DP, so Reitman asked him to shoot his next film, Juno. At first it was an uphill battle to get Juno’s financiers, Fox Searchlight, to sign off on Eric, because they didn’t see him as experienced enough for the job. But Reitman fought for him, and it led to a long relationship with Eric as Reitman’s director of photography for Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult, Labor Day, Men, Women & Children, Tully, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
Eric never dreamed he’d start at Juno and end up working on the Disney + Star Wars series, Ahsoka. Eric and director of photography Quyen Tran, ASC split cinematography duties. He began prepping the show with executive producer/showrunner Dave Filoni, frequently touching base with Q since she wasn’t able to come on set until later. Both Eric and Q have similar approaches to lighting and composition, and Eric feels it was the best version of a two DP collaboration that there could be. One of the biggest successes of their working relationship was doing their camera testing together and knowing they were aligned with the cameras, lenses and lighting for the show.
As a Star Wars fan, Eric was familiar with the source material and he felt so much joy working on a piece of the saga. He had never done a show shot on volume and blue screen stages, and Eric saw it as an opportunity to learn something new. As a DP, he feels his biggest job is listening, looking and paying attention to what the director and the rest of the team wants to see on the screen. Developing the look of Ahsoka began with the art department’s concept art for the show, but there was lots of room for creativity as the characters travel to different planets. Eric found Ahsoka to be by far the HARDEST show he has ever worked on, but he also feels extremely proud of his work.
Ahsoka is currently on Disney+.
Find Eric Steelberg: Instagram: @ericsteelberg
Close Focus: A correction about the Taylor Swift Eras Tour concert film release: Distribution credit goes to AMC and Variance Films, who is responsible for booking other US circuits.
Illya’s short end: The podcast The Lazerus Heist, which came out in 2021, about North Korean hackers like those behind the big Sony hack after the release of The Interview, a comedy about two journalists tasked with killing North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un.
Listen to Ben’s new horror series Catchers, available NOW only on Audible!
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