June 9, 2021

Polly Morgan ASC, BSC on shooting A Quiet Place Part II, Legion, working with John Krasinski, Ellen Kuras, Wally Pfister and more

When cinematographer Polly Morgan reads a script for the first time, she finds herself immersed in images. Her cinematography draws inspiration from art and art history and she finds visuals speak to her on a fundamental level.

For A Quiet Place Part II, Polly knew it was important to reference Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s previous work on A Quiet Place and blend it seamlessly with her own style. Each DP has their own cinematic look, and she was able to settle into her cinematographic method once the family leaves the farmhouse in the film. From the very beginning, Polly talked with director John Krasinski about making the film as immersive and subjective to the characters’ experience as possible. A Quiet Place achieved that look with Charlotte’s primarily handheld, tightly eye-level and over-the-shoulder camerawork. With A Quiet Place Part II, Polly wanted to expand the feel of the camera as the Abbot family’s world grows a bit larger. At its heart, the film is still a family drama about a mother and her children, although there’s a lot more action in Part II compared to the first movie. She included many long oners that start wide and then push into a closeup, combining a slow methodic camera with fast paced, quick cuts to create a push and pull with the viewer’s emotions to keep them on the edge of their seats. Polly and Krasinski decided to never cut away separately to the creatures or the source of the danger- they always keep the danger within the character’s frame, with no escape from what is happening, which keeps it as close and immersive as possible. She and Krasinski prepped for a few weeks in New York City to discuss the look of the film, before going to Buffalo to shoot. They talked about the movie’s rhythm, starting with a slower pace for the prologue, giving the audience a feel for the Abbot’s town and the community before the monsters arrive. Polly found the script very descriptive, providing a roadmap for the composition. Krasinski was also clear on how much coverage for each scene was needed, and they would often shoot a scene in one shot, then move on.

Polly grew up in the countryside in England and loved watching movies as a child. As a teen, a film crew used their farmhouse as basecamp, and she was fascinated to see how movies get made. She knew then that she wanted to pursue a film career. After university in England, she came to Los Angeles to attend AFI, but needed a job between semesters to afford school. Polly learned that Inception was going into production in England, found Wally Pfister’s email, and he hired her as a camera assistant on the film, which served as a great learning experience. When she was first starting out, Polly found it hard to find steady work, but she was able to work on projects in the UK and bounce back and forth until she was hired to shoot season three of Legion on FX. Polly loved the visual surrealistic storytelling of Legion, where the camera plays such an important role in creating the practical visual effects for the show. She was also pleased to have the opportunity to DP for director and cinematographer Ellen Kuras who directed an episode of Legion.

Polly is currently shooting the film, Where The Crawdads Sing.

You can watch A Quiet Place Part II currently playing in theaters.

Find Polly Morgan: https://www.pollymorgan.net/
Instagram @pollymorgan

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep127/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQIhe3yjQJG72EjZJBRI1w
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

December 2, 2020

Charlotte Bruus Christensen: Black Narcissus series director and cinematographer on doing both jobs, shooting A Quiet Place and The Banker

When Charlotte Bruus Christensen was approached to direct the three part series Black Narcissus, she was doubtful at first. The original 1947 film won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, and she was very aware of the film and did not want to remake it. But when producer and writer Amanda Coe suggested she read the original novel Black Narcissus, Charlotte was drawn to the story and saw it as not remaking the movie, but rather reinterpreting the book 70 years later with a 2020 mindset. Charlotte originally wanted to direct the series and collaborate with a DP, but as she delved more into the project, she knew how she wanted to interpret the story, how scenes should be lit and framed, and she realized that she wanted to both direct, be director of photography, and operate the camera. Even before she thought about directing, Charlotte always read scripts with a focus on performance and discussed scenes with the director to better understand where to place the camera. She feels she was most influenced by working with directors who take on multiple roles, such as actor and directors Denzel Washington and John Krasinski and writer/director Aaron Sorkin. Charlotte feels being behind the camera while directing brings the actors and the camera closer, capturing the performances as one, and she had a very skilled and supportive crew.

Charlotte knew Emily Blunt and John Krasinski from The Girl on the Train, and was excited to shoot the horror movie A Quiet Place, because she had never worked in that genre before. To prepare, Charlotte studied many classic horror movies, such as Jaws and The Exorcist to get an idea of the visual language: the slower the camera moves, the more creepy and suspenseful the film becomes. It was important to her to maintain and protect the heart of the story, which is the fragile family relationship as they try to survive an alien invasion.

The Banker, starring Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson, is based on the true story of two property investors who happen to be African American men in the 1960’s. They concoct risky plans to accomplish their dream in the time of segregation and redlining. Charlotte wanted to portray the partners’ wealth growing through the properties they bought, such as shooting large rooms to show the ceiling height. She liked working with director George Nolfi and appreciated the humor and positive message of the film.

Charlotte Bruus Christensen: Instagram @charlottebruuschristensen

We’ve been lucky enough to have Charlotte on our show twice! Check out our past interview with Charlotte Bruus Christensen: https://camnoir.com/ep17-2/

See Black Narcissus, airing on FX on Hulu: https://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/black-narcissus

See The Banker on Apple TV+

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep103/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz