The Cinematography Podcast Episode 78: Bradford Young Part 2
Bradford Young continues our conversation from his busy household. One lesson he’s learned is that the cinematographer’s job is to make the director happy. Bradford was drawn to the science fiction film Arrival because it had an intimacy and a perspective about who we are that many sci-fi movies lack. Arrival takes us on a journey of discovery while keeping the human experience at the center of the film, with the camera following Louise, played by Amy Adams, the entire time. At first, Bradford found it difficult to find the visual language of the story, since it was so much about decoding the aliens’ language. But his collaboration with Denis Villeneuve and the rest of the team makes Arrival feel cohesive and engaging. When Bradford was approached to shoot Solo: A Star Wars Story, he knew it would be a power move for his career, although it was uniquely challenging to work with four cameras plus huge action sequences and special effects. He also had to adjust to the turmoil of Lucasfilm’s decision to fire directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who were replaced by director Ron Howard in the middle of the Solo shoot. But Bradford felt fortunate to be able to continue shooting Solo and to work with a seasoned and respected director like Ron Howard. Bradford was happy to work with director Ava DuVernay again on When They See Us, which was his first episodic series. He and DuVernay wanted to bring weight and care with their approach to the story of the Central Park Five, using minimal lighting, composed photographic shots and anamorphic lenses. For Bradford, When They See Us was a hard story to tell and they told it the best way they could. He feels that while films are powerful, they are also fleeting- sometimes it takes longer to tell and inform a story, and the injustices done to Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray and Yusef Salaam was better served as a series.
You can stream When They See Us right now on Netflix.
You can find Selma streaming on Amazon, Vudu, or iTunes.
Bradford Young was featured in the May 2020 issue of American Cinematographer.
Find Bradford Young
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Close Focus: The white paper Proposed Health and Safety Guidelines for Motion Picture, Television, and Streaming Productions During the COVID-19 Pandemic has been released, outlining the safety measures and steps to reopening Hollywood. But there’s still a lot of questions about where, when and how productions will come back.
Ben’s short end: A documentary now available on Amazon Prime called Making Apes: The Artists Who Changed Film, about the makeup artists who worked on the original Planet of the Apes and the groundbreaking makeup effects at the time.
Illya’s short end: 2005’s Zathura: A Space Adventure directed by Jon Favereau, is a great kid’s science fiction movie with practical effects, puppets and makeup.
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