October 18, 2023

Ahsoka cinematographer Eric Steelberg, ASC

Cinematographer Eric Steelberg, ASC has always loved movies, which is what led him to a career as a director of photography. He tries to find compelling film and television projects, putting his own stamp on the story’s visuals.

Back in 2006, Eric was at the beginning of his career as a DP when he shot the small independent film, Quinceañera which won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury prize at Sundance that year. It was shot in HD, which was very new technology at the time, especially for smaller films. After Quinceañera, Eric’s career began to take off. He’d been a frequent collaborator with director Jason Reitman, whom he met shooting commercials and smaller projects, but not films. Working on Quinceañera gave Eric more credibility as a DP, so Reitman asked him to shoot his next film, Juno. At first it was an uphill battle to get Juno’s financiers, Fox Searchlight, to sign off on Eric, because they didn’t see him as experienced enough for the job. But Reitman fought for him, and it led to a long relationship with Eric as Reitman’s director of photography for Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult, Labor Day, Men, Women & Children, Tully, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Eric never dreamed he’d start at Juno and end up working on the Disney + Star Wars series, Ahsoka. Eric and director of photography Quyen Tran, ASC split cinematography duties. He began prepping the show with executive producer/showrunner Dave Filoni, frequently touching base with Q since she wasn’t able to come on set until later. Both Eric and Q have similar approaches to lighting and composition, and Eric feels it was the best version of a two DP collaboration that there could be. One of the biggest successes of their working relationship was doing their camera testing together and knowing they were aligned with the cameras, lenses and lighting for the show.

As a Star Wars fan, Eric was familiar with the source material and he felt so much joy working on a piece of the saga. He had never done a show shot on volume and blue screen stages, and Eric saw it as an opportunity to learn something new. As a DP, he feels his biggest job is listening, looking and paying attention to what the director and the rest of the team wants to see on the screen. Developing the look of Ahsoka began with the art department’s concept art for the show, but there was lots of room for creativity as the characters travel to different planets. Eric found Ahsoka to be by far the HARDEST show he has ever worked on, but he also feels extremely proud of his work.

Ahsoka is currently on Disney+.

Find Eric Steelberg: http://www.ericsteelberg.com/
Instagram: @ericsteelberg

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

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

April 20, 2022

DP Jendra Jarnagin on the film Asking For It, tips on working with short prep time, developing a DP/director bond, how to light for women

Jendra Jarnagin returns to The Cinematography Podcast after 7 years to talk about her latest movie, Asking For It, a female vigilante revenge thriller, about women who exact revenge on men who have abused women. First-time director Eamon O’Rourke wanted it to be a female exploitation-style movie without the exploitation, and he and Jendra were influenced by films such as Switchblade Sisters, Belly, True Romance, and Natural Born Killers.

Jendra was hired to work on the low-budget film only three weeks before the shoot, so she had to hit the ground running with a very short amount of prep time. O’Rourke had made a look book, so Jendra used what he created to get herself up to speed. The days were full of casting and scouts, but the evenings were spent as sacred one-on-one time to discuss the film and create the DP/director collaborative bond.

O’Rourke was concerned about the fact that he is a white man telling a story with women of color and their experience with sexual assault. He was open to handling the material with sensitivity and listened to Jendra and the female cast and crew members about how to shoot certain scenes. They gave careful consideration to what the film wanted to say and how to portray the feeling of emotional overwhelm visually.

Jendra also discusses her recent work on a 2020 commercial featuring former First Lady Michelle Obama. It was shot soon after production started returning after COVID lockdowns, and the directors had to work remotely. One of Jendra’s skills is understanding how to light women, and she is very proud of her work on this commercial. She had limited time with Mrs. Obama and knew she would not be able to tweak the lighting again once they were rolling.

Find Jendra Jarnagin: https://www.jendrajarnagin.com/
Instagram: @jendradp

See Asking For It in select theaters and VOD.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep165/

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

June 16, 2021

Jeffrey Jur, ASC on shooting Bridgerton, working with Shonda Rhimes, Dirty Dancing, The Big Picture, The Last Seduction, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and more

Cinematographer Jeffrey Jur chose the path of filmmaker not just as a job, but to put something out into the world that he finds personally wonderful and amazing. He sees filmmaking as a way to express what he says to the world visually and photographically. Jeff always tries to find projects that reflect a part of him and keep him creatively inspired.

For the Netflix series Bridgerton, executive producer Shonda Rhimes and the series directors knew the show needed to have a “female gaze” when it came to the sex scenes, emphasizing female pleasure and desire, bringing the series a refreshing, contemporary feel in spite of the historic setting. Jeff had shot several Shondaland projects over the past 20 years, beginning with the pilot for Grey’s Anatomy and the pilot for How To Get Away With Murder. As the DP of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Dirty Dancing, Jeff also had experience with shooting movies from a more feminine perspective. He likes what Shonda Rhimes has to say to the world about relationships and race, and the colorblind alternate history of 1813 presented in Bridgerton. The scripts are written with modern language, and the show had to feel modern but keep true to the Regency-era romantic beauty. He found it very exciting to shoot in England, where the streets and historic houses needed very little alteration to fit the time period, especially around Bath. Jeff’s inspirations for the vibrant, colorful look of Bridgerton included Pride and Prejudice and Stanley Kubrick’s historic movie Barry Lyndon. In fact, one of the locations Bridgerton used, Wilton House, was also used in Barry Lyndon. Much of Bridgerton was lit by candles, natural light, and balloon lights. It was necessary to shoot in historic buildings without touching the ceiling or moving the furniture. Fortunately, the UK crew was used to shooting in many of the locations and knew how to manage the restrictions.

In the mid-1980’s, Jeff had just moved to L.A. from Chicago, getting by shooting shorts and a few dramatic films, when one of the producers for Dirty Dancing saw his work on American Playhouse and hired him as the cinematographer. Jeff had no idea that 1987’s Dirty Dancing would become his big break, and he’s honored to have been a part of something that has become so iconic. It was shot on a very low budget and no one had very high expectations for how successful Dirty Dancing would become. Dance films such as Flashdance and Footloose had done well, but everyone involved in Dirty Dancing wanted the dancing in the movie to be authentic, performed by the actors, not with professional dance doubles, as the audience follows the main character’s journey as she learns how to dance.

Soon after Dirty Dancing, Jeff shot The Big Picture, Christopher Guest’s directorial debut. The Big Picture was a huge flop, but it ended up having a following once it reached home video. The story follows Nick Chapman, a recent film school grad whose short film wins an award- but breaking into Hollywood is not that easy. Jeff loved the film because the plot really spoke to him. Growing up in Chicago, he always had a passion for filmmaking and while in high school, his film won him a scholarship to Columbia Film School. The Big Picture includes many short films, fantasy sequences and student films within the movie which were great fun to shoot.

Jeff switched gears creatively to shoot The Last Seduction, an indie film from the 1990’s that was an homage and reinvention of film noir directed by John Dahl. He went on to shoot romantic comedies How Stella Got Her Groove Back and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which is still the highest grossing romantic comedy in U.S. history.

Jeff began shooting television on the HBO series, Carnivale and he’s found working in TV to be very rewarding. The mid-budget features Jeff used to work on have disappeared, and many of the directors he’s worked with have moved into television, like John Dahl, who brought him on to shoot the Showtime series, Dexter. Jeff thinks the writing for television has gotten incredible, and the storytelling and creative risk-taking is more prevalent in television today than in features.

You can find Jeff Jur on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.jur
Instagram: @jeffjurasc

Jeff is currently shooting season 2 of Bridgerton.

You can watch Bridgerton streaming on Netflix

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep128/

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