July 27, 2022

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On cinematographers Bianca Cline and Eric Adkins

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On began in 2010 as a series of stop-motion shorts written and directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp and actor Jenny Slate, who also does the voice of Marcel. It’s a “documentary” about Marcel, who’s a hermit crab shell with one googly eye and doll shoes. What makes both the shorts and the film so charming is hearing Marcel’s funny, optimistic witticisms and seeing how he uses real full-sized human objects in his miniature life, such as a piece of lint on a thread as a pet, using a spoon to catapult onto shelves, and putting honey on his shoes to walk up a wall. For the full length film, Fleischer-Camp, Slate and screenwriter Nick Paley expanded the story to include Marcel’s grandmother Connie. The two live in the house alone, but they used to be part of a whole shell community. With the help of Dean, Marcel’s documentarian, Marcel goes on a quest to find the rest of his family and friends.

As a live-action and stop-motion movie, Marcel The Shell was extremely complicated to shoot. DP Bianca Cline, who has a documentary background, shot the principal photography on location so that cinematographer Eric Adkins, an experienced stop-motion DP, could use her footage as background plates for the stop-motion. Then, all of the stop-motion portions and live action portions were composited together into a seamless film. Eric was on set and took extensive notes, photos and measurements during the live action portion, since creating realistic, fool-the-eye stop-motion is extremely technical. All of Bianca’s documentary footage was edited and animatics created before Eric’s job as the stop-motion DP began, with puppeteers using interchangeable shell models of Marcel and Connie.

Bianca tried to approach the film as if Marcel was a real living character. Once she began shooting, the voices and music were already fully recorded and finished along with extensive storyboards, so it helped to have a clear blueprint. She could find the best locations within the house and use naturalistic lighting for each scene. An important part of the story is to emphasize that Marcel is very small in a big world. Bianca wanted him to always be placed next to things that made him look small, and she often used one of the Marcel models as a reference. The team took care to make everything look effortless, as if they just showed up with a camera. As with a real documentary, Bianca wanted it to seem slightly imperfect with handheld movement and a little bit of jolting motion once in awhile. They were constantly brainstorming and problem solving together with the production designer, VFX supervisor and animation director on set.

For Eric, the most complex scenes to replicate in stop-motion were the driving portions, shot with GoPros mounted inside the car, as Marcel gets driven around looking for his family. All the lighting in stop motion is strictly controlled on a set, so using flickering and moving light in scenes is rare. But complex problems just inspire Eric to find more creative solutions, and he enjoyed the challenge of making sure that the stop-motion shadows matched the movements of the real car.

Find Bianca Cline: https://www.biancaclinedp.com/
Instagram @biancaclinedp

Find Eric Adkins: Instagram @eradop

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On is currently playing in theaters and is proving to be another indie hit for A24.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep176/

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

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

May 18, 2022

Cinematographer Eric Koretz on shooting the last season of Ozark and more

Cinematographer Eric Koretz and our host Illya Friedman have known each other a long time, going back to when Eric blogged about the latest camera gear. Since then, Eric has become a very successful DP. His current work can be seen on the last and final season of the Netflix series, Ozark. Eric shot 4 episodes of the last half of the final season, including the show finale, “A Hard Way to Go” directed by Jason Bateman.

Eric loved the look of Ozark, and knew he would have to adapt to the established shooting style of the show. However, he knew that he wanted to bring his own look to it too. Anytime the crew is shooting outside, they begin blocking out the sun, keeping the outdoors very shadowy using negative fill techniques. Eric felt Ozark was a cinematographer’s dream to shoot- they use every tool to tell the story, and the producers allow the cinematographers to do what they wish within the style parameters. The show is shot more like a movie than a TV show, with time allowed to let scenes have space and play out, allowing the DP to shoot a closeup on a glass of whiskey or shoot a long shot out a window as a car pulls up, creating tension. Eric found that Jason Bateman as a director and producer knows exactly what he wants and is very technical and precise as a craftsman.

Eric first went to college for graphic design. He started making animated videos and applied to American Film Institute to learn more about shooting. While at AFI, he discovered that he really enjoyed cinematography and after graduation, began working in commercials. But the idea of storytelling through longer forms of film and television really appealed to Eric. His first feature was Comet with director Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot), and his second feature, Frank & Lola,  went to Sundance. Eric still shoots commercials as well, which is a great place to learn- commercial shoots tend to have a lot more resources, and these days commercials tend to be very creative, artistic and cinematic, with more crossover from film.

Find Eric Koretz: http://erickoretz.com/
Instagram: @erickoretz_dp

See all of the seasons of Ozark on Netflix.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep168/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by DZOFilm: https://www.dzofilm.com/

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

April 27, 2022

Cinematographer Eliot Rockett on the period horror film X, working with director Ti West, techniques of shooting horror

Cinematographer Eliot Rockett is a frequent collaborator with Ti West, who is a well known director/writer/editor for horror fans. West and Eliot’s latest film, X, is a classic slasher/horror movie set in 1979, at the time when the popularity of porn movies and slasher films were at their height. With X, West decided to write an erotic horror film that combines elements of both genres. The film is about a group of aspiring filmmakers who head to a remote farm to shoot a porno, but aren’t completely transparent with the elderly couple who owns the property what kind of movie they’re making. Then the bloodbath begins.

Interestingly, Eliot is actually not a big horror fan- he dislikes feeling anxious and tense. But after shooting so many films in this genre, he genuinely appreciates how important the cinematographer is to making a horror movie. In horror, the camera is the instrument that takes the audience through the experience. The camera setups, angles, and lighting choices are incredibly important to setting the tone- more than any other genre. The characters and dialog are usually secondary, unlike dramas or romantic comedies. Eliot first learned some tips about how to shoot a horror film on the movie Crocodile with director Toby Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Hooper explained some of the finer points to creating “seat jumper” moments, based on keeping the camera static and not cutting away.

Eliot and director Ti West also worked together on The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers. West is known for creating a suspenseful slow burn, starting off at a normal pace, then progressively building into a manic frenzy of blood and guts to the end. Eliot has always been involved in the filmmaking process early on, and the two share similar ideas about aesthetics and cinema. They discuss far in advance how the drama is going to unfold and figure out how to achieve those goals. Once shooting begins, Eliot and West work smoothly together because the movie is well understood.

Eliot shot Pearl, the prequel to X, directly after they wrapped X. The production was based in New Zealand in early 2021, still during the height of the COVID pandemic, and it made sense to roll right into pre-production on Pearl and stay longer to shoot the movie, using production crews in New Zealand for both films. Pearl is a completely different sort of horror movie and is almost a musical, with dance numbers and lots of color saturation. Eliot calls it “the best feel bad movie you’ll ever see.”

Eliot Rockett is currently shooting Season 2 of Perry Mason for HBO.

Find Eliot Rockett: https://www.eliotrockett.com/
Instagram: @elrockett and @eliotrockett

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep166/

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

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz