The Cinematography Podcast Episode 96: Phedon Papamichael

Phedon Papamichael’s latest project is The Trial of the Chicago 7, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. The bulk of the story centers on the 1969 trial of seven men accused of inciting a riot in the park outside of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. In Phedon’s view, a film is actually made three times: it’s conceived in the writing process, developed during principal photography, then reinvented and finalized in the editing process. When working with a director and writer like Aaron Sorkin, the way the film is scripted is exactly what he wants to see on the screen. The person speaking must be on camera, and specific shots are needed to sync with the rhythm of his words, like a poem. Sorkin is not a technical filmmaker, and after their initial meeting, Phedon knew Sorkin would rely heavily on him for creating the visuals. Since the majority of the action takes place in the courtroom, Phedon had to generate visual interest, making sure they had the right lenses and angles to enhance the drama, and to get good reaction shots of the jury and spectators. He used the lighting within the courtroom to enhance the moods and tension, and adjusted the light coming through the windows to reflect the changing seasons. When shooting the protests in the park and the violent clashes with the police, the camera crew went hand-held documentary style. Some of the footage from the protests was actually intercut with real footage taken from a film called Medium Cool, a combination documentary/fiction film by famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler, who shot actual footage of the riots in the park from the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

You can watch The Trial of the Chicago Seven streaming now on Netflix.

We’ve been lucky enough to have Phedon on our show three times! Check out our past interviews with Phedon Papamichael:

Phedon discusses Ford v. Ferrari

Phedon’s live podcast at Hot Rod Cameras. You can also see it on YouTube!

Find Phedon Papamichael

Instagram: @papa2

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IT’S A BOOK GIVEAWAY! Enter to win the Video Palace book, Video Palace: In Search of the Eyeless Man Collected Stories signed by our host, Ben Rock, who authored the story “Ecstatica.” The book expands the world of the Video Palace podcast that Ben directed for Shudder.

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Close Focus: Discussing the great Coen Brothers film, Miller’s Crossing at 30. A link to The Guardian article.

Ben’s short end: Dark Delicacies Bookstore in Burbank is a great independent bookstore for all your horror reading needs. You can pick up a copy of Video Palace: In Search of the Eyeless Man Collected Stories signed by our host, Ben Rock!

Illya’s short end: The series Brave New World is a pretty solid sci fi series available on Peacock; Ben adds to also watch The Amber Ruffin Show every Friday on Peacock- Amber is a personal friend and a very talented actor.

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Instagram: @thecinepod

Twitter: @ShortEndz

Podcast Credits:

Editor in Chief:  Illya Friedman@hotrodcameras

Instagram: @illyafriedman

Ben Rock:  Twitter: @neptunesalad

Instagram: @bejamin_rock

Producer: Alana Kode

Editor: Ben Katz

Composer: Kays Alatractchi

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