July 17, 2024

Cinematography Podcast, Latest Posts, Podcast Episodes

The second season of the Amazon Prime horror anthology series THEM takes place in 1989 and 1991 Los Angeles. LAPD detective Dawn Reeve is investigating a horrifying murder. As she gets closer to the truth, a dark and menacing force threatens her and her family. THEM: The Scare explores themes of fear, dark family secrets and the supernatural.

Cinematographer Brendan Uegama was a fan of season 1 of THEM, and got a call from his agent to meet with writer, creator and showrunner Little Marvin about shooting season 2. As an anthology series, each season is its own standalone story. Brendan and Little Marvin’s guiding idea was not to make the show look exactly like it took place in the early 1990’s, and discussed how to create a feeling of warmth, contrasted with the feeling of terror in the shadows. Brendan decided to use just two lenses and two focal lengths on an ARRI Alexa Mini LF, with everything drastically changing look and tone for episode 7.

On Episode 7, “One of Us is Gonna Die Tonight” of THEM: The Scare, Brendan had the opportunity to fully unleash his creativity. Little Marvin decided to direct this episode, and he wanted it to feel utterly horrific, using all of the tools they had at their disposal: lighting, camera effects, and sound. They embraced using as much red lighting as they possibly could throughout the episode. “We had lights in different areas, and we had red from the toy store.” says Brendan. “We had red flares, red cop lights. And Little Marvin’s like, ‘Man, it would be cool if it was even MORE red.’ So I started adding red lights behind all the cop cars and uplighting things, really going heavy with the red. And once we started looking at that, we’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, now it feels like this is a hellscape.’” Brendan chose to use a 4:3 aspect ratio exclusively for episode 7 to make it feel like the walls are literally closing in. After strictly using the same lenses and focal lengths throughout the series, Brendan changed it up for almost half the episode with a Petzval lens, which creates a unique, swirly bokeh in the center of the frame. Along with the red lighting and aspect ratio shift, it helped create a distorted, nightmarish look. (Hear Robbie Ryan’s discussion of using a Petzval lens on Poor Things https://www.camnoir.com/ep248/)

Brendan enjoyed the creative opportunity to work on THEM: The Scare. “A huge part of it was the overall excitement to make something great,” he says. “It was exciting to push boundaries and not do formulaic television of any kind.”

Find Brendan Uegama: Instagram @brendanuegama_dp

Hear our interview with THEM season 1 cinematographer Checco Varese, ASC. https://www.camnoir.com/ep136/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by Aputure: https://www.aputure.com/

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

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July 10, 2024

Cinematography Podcast, Latest Posts, Podcast Episodes

The post-apocalyptic TV show Fallout is based on the 1997 videogame, which was a huge commercial and critical success. Centuries after a nuclear war, Lucy (Ella Purnell) must venture out of her sheltered underground Vault dwelling into the dangerous Wasteland of Los Angeles to find her kidnapped father (Kyle MacLachlan.) She encounters strange characters, including a Ghoul bounty hunter (Walton Goggins) and Maximus (Aaron Moten) a member of the militaristic Brotherhood of Steel.

Cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh is best known for his work on the 1993 film, The Piano, for which he received an Academy Award nomination. It opened up opportunities for him outside of New Zealand, and he frequently worked with women directors like Karyn Kusama (Aeon Flux) and Susan Seidelman (Sex and the City TV pilot.) Stuart also shot Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Runaway Bride, and the New Zealand indie film Once Were Warriors. He particularly enjoyed working with director John Sayles on the 1996 western mystery drama, Lone Star. Stuart’s cinematography captured the vastness and beauty of Texas. The low budget forced him to use “poor man’s process” an old film technique used for staging a driving sequence.

When Stuart read the script for Fallout, he watched play throughs of the game to get an idea of what it should look like. “I had some idea what the basis is, because the game has been around for 30 years. I pulled a lot of images and built a Pinterest board, which turned out to be completely wrong, because I’d gone very atmospheric, very gamey with my references.” says Stuart. “And Jonathan (Nolan) said ‘No, I don’t want to do it that way. I want to play it real, not too many tricks. There’s going to be enough crazy stuff in this movie content-wise- play it straight, and just make it nice.’”

Fallout creator Jonathan Nolan chose to shoot on 35mm film, using ARRI cameras and anamorphic lenses. The show is set in three main spaces, each with its own distinct color palette and look: the underground vault, the wasteland, and the past, before the nuclear disaster. The vault is lit entirely by artificial lighting and Stuart worked closely with the art department to make sure the visible lighting provided enough ambient light to shoot film. It allowed the camera freedom of movement within the space. By contrast, for the wasteland, Stuart leaned into the Western genre the show evokes, balancing the washed-out, desolate surroundings with the vibrancy of pre-war remnants. The wasteland was shot in several different locations including Namibia, the Utah salt flats and upstate New York.

Find Stuart Dryburgh: Instagram @stuartdryburgh

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by Aputure: https://www.aputure.com/

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

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July 3, 2024

Cinematography Podcast, Latest Posts, Podcast Episodes

In case you missed it, we’re reposting our 2023 Sundance interview with Fancy Dance director/writer Erica Tremblay and cinematographer Carolina Costa, AMC. Fancy Dance is now available in select theaters and streaming on AppleTV+.

Fancy Dance follows Jax (Lily Gladstone), a Native American woman on Oklahoma’s Seneca-Cayuga reservation. When her sister Tawi vanishes mysteriously, Jax becomes guardian to her niece Roki. Their search for Tawi is met with indifference from law enforcement. Facing financial hardship, Jax resorts to petty crimes that threaten custody of Roki, who’s placed with her non-Indigenous grandparents. Determined to keep a promise and celebrate their heritage, Jax takes Roki on a daring journey to the state powwow, hoping to find answers about Tawi’s fate and to give Roki the opportunity to perform the traditional dance she and her mother practiced together.

Fancy Dance director and writer Erica Tremblay and cinematographer Carolina Costa met when Erica was searching for a DP and Carolina was on a short list. Carolina loved the script, and saw the film was special just from reading the page- she could see all the visuals in her mind, and felt it was important to see these characters come alive on the big screen. She decided to keep the lighting natural and didn’t use many additional lights. They wanted the film to feel specific to the topography of Oklahoma in the summer- a hot, humid time, when the sky is a washed-out blue. Erica and Carolina had several conversations about what the film would look and feel like, including using natural moonlight to represent Tawi, the missing sister and mother. The moon is a symbol of matrilineal kinship which is vital to the Native American community.

One of the biggest challenges facing director Erica Tremblay was finding financing for Fancy Dance. It was hard to convince the right people to fund a film whose main character is an abrasive, lawless, queer indigenous woman. Erica grew up in the Seneca Cayuga nation, and drew upon characters she knew. She wanted her script to reflect the issues faced by Native Americans today, especially the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women who are never found. But she also includes humor, loving family connections and the celebration of joyous culture at the powwow. Erica was also a writer on the acclaimed FX series, Reservation Dogs.

Fancy Dance is available now in theaters and on AppleTV+

Find Erica Tremblay: Instagram @ericajtremblay

Find Carolina Costa: Instagram @ccostacine

Find Fancy Dance: Instagram #fancydancemovie

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

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June 26, 2024

Cinematography Podcast, Latest Posts, Podcast Episodes

Netflix’s Baby Reindeer is a dark comedic thriller that chronicles the true story of a struggling comedian, Donny (Richard Gadd) as he’s stalked by a seemingly harmless woman named Martha (Jessica Gunning). As her pursuit of him escalates and becomes progressively unhinged, the audience learns more about why Donny may be so passive about stopping her advances.

Cinematographer Kryzsztof Trojnar reunited with his fellow Polish film school classmate, director Weronika Tofilska, on Baby Reindeer’s first four episodes. The show’s unique origin, a one-man stage play, proved a valuable resource for Kryzsztof. He immersed himself in the audio recording alongside the script, capturing the story’s rhythm and intensity. “It was all about how we create that intensity, how we create the intrusion of Martha, how we show her overtures in that pub.” says Kryzsztof. “It all has to be really close and really intense that as an audience you feel that intrusion.”

Both Kryzsztof and Tofilska were inspired by Coen brothers movies and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, admiring their treatment of character-driven narratives. Kryzsztof made sure to keep the perspective of the story firmly in Donny’s first person point of view. Wide-angle lenses frequently frame him in the center, and the use of Steadicam shots keep up the frantic pace of Donny’s increasing unease.

Kryzsztof and Tofilska chose lighting and a color palette they jokingly called “decomposing body” for Baby Reindeer. It creates a stylized world with a LUT heavy on earth tones of yellow, brown, and green. Against those colors, naturally lit moments and other hues stand out with a jarring vibrancy. Kryzsztof also favored unflattering, hard lighting for Donny as he feels more haunted and hunted by Martha. Martha, on the other hand, is lit in a flattering way, as she admires and flirts with Donny, making him feel adored.

Find Kryzsztof Trojnar: Instagram: @krzysztof_trojnar

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

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June 21, 2024

Cinematography Podcast, Latest Posts, Podcast Episodes

Jonathan Freeman, ASC faced a unique challenge on Netflix’s sci-fi series 3 Body Problem. The books, written by Cixin Liu, are extremely intellectually dense novels. Translating them into visually compelling television seemed like a daunting task. Show creators DB Weiss and David Benioff had worked with Jonathan previously on Game of Thrones, and they leaned into filmmaking that was motivated by impactful storytelling rather than just “cool shots.” A key reveal moment in particular was achieved simply by pushing in on a photo of one of the characters in the first episode, revealing how the stories were interconnected.

Together, they decided on the look of the show and chose three distinct visual styles for 1960s China, modern London, and the virtual world of a videogame. The 2:3:5 aspect ratio and ARRI ALFA lenses helped differentiate these environments. The lenses were prototypes that Greig Fraser was developing on The Batman. “They had exactly all that beautiful bokeh that you would expect, but the center was optically pure,” says Jonathan. “They also had these chromatic aberrations to them. These distorted, stretchy little bits in the edges of the frame just looked funky and kind of otherworldly. I just like the idea that it could be interpreted as sort of an alien’s point of view.”

Filming the virtual world within a limited physical space required innovation. Jonathan’s “low-res volume” stage concept used a massive wall of SkyPanels and strategically placed lighting to create a realistic, immersive environment for actors. “Each (panel) was almost like a pixel, so we created an array of 110 feet by 45 wide wrapped around 180 degrees.” says Jonathan. “It was a very complex system, but overall the intent was to recreate these live environments the way you might be able to do in a regular volume. Then, there was the lighting on top, similar to the skylight, where we programmed animated lights to recreate sunrise, sunset, dusk, and dawn. It was quite complicated, but we were able to use a real space and transition in camera. It took a lot of minds to put it together, but I thought it was really successful.”

Find Jonathan Freeman: http://freemandp.com/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by ARRI: https://www.arri.com/en

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

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