September 7, 2022

Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul director Adamma Ebo, producer Adanne Ebo, and cinematographer Alan Gwizdowski

Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul is a satirical dark comedy and mockumentary about Trinitie Childs, (Regina Hall) the “First Lady” of a Southern Baptist mega church and Lee-Curtis Childs, (Sterling K. Brown) her pastor husband. The pastor is accused of sexual misconduct and the two are struggling to relaunch their megachurch in the face of the controversy. As part of their public relations campaign, Trinitie and Lee-Curtis consent to a documentary crew following them.

Adamma was the writer and director of the film, and her twin Adanne was one of the producers of the film. The sisters have been partners their entire life, and enjoy working together. They grew up southern Baptist in Georgia, immersed in the megachurch culture. Both Adamma and Adanne felt that any evangelical megachurch’s messaging seemed insincere and un-Christian to get rich off of their congregants’ donations. With that background, Adamma decided to write a satire about a black southern megachurch- a fresh subject that she’d never seen on screen before. Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul started out as a short film that Adamma was able to develop into a feature.

Cinematographer Alan Gwizdowski (nicknamed Gwiz) took over the production when fellow DP Adam Bricker had a scheduling conflict. Adamma wanted the film to look and feel very much like a real documentary, mixed with a more cinematic, narrative film look. Gwiz knew they needed the two different worlds to be separated- the part of the documentary that the Childs want the “filmmakers” to see, vs. what the documentary filmmakers are able to capture behind the curtain. They decided to keep the more illicit documentary scenes handheld and the official documentary scenes had a more cinematic look.

Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul is in theaters and also streaming on Peacock.

Find Adamma Ebo: https://www.ejimeproductions.com/about
Instagram: @adamma.ebo
Find Adanne Ebo: https://www.ejimeproductions.com/about
Instagram: @adanne.ebo
Find Alan Gwizdowski: http://www.gwizphoto.com/
Instagram: @alangwiz

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep182/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

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

August 24, 2022

Cinematographer Cybel Martin on A League of Their Own, Black As Night, horror movies and more

Cinematographer Cybel Martin believes that great cinematography comes from a place of trust between the director, DP and crew. Great art can be created when someone says: this is my vision and I trust you to make it happen. Cybel especially loves horror movies, because it’s the best genre for cinematographers to try out visuals that are not based in reality. The opening scene always establishes the visual rules, no matter how weird. You start from scratch and play with how you see the story, and with a good script you can naturally visualize the world. Horror films underscore symbolism and dramatize emotions even more than dramas, and good horror movies still have solid character development even without a supernatural element.

Cybel had the opportunity to work in the horror genre on the show American Horror Stories (Season 1) and most recently on the Amazon Prime movie, Black As Night. Black As Night is about an African American teenage girl who battles a band of vampires who prey on the homeless and drug addicted in New Orleans. Cybel wanted to lean into the richness, color and texture of New Orleans and was inspired by the thematic colors of purple, green, and gold.

The new Amazon Prime series, A League of Their Own, is an historic drama and comedy about the first women’s professional baseball league in the 1940’s. Though the series has the same name as the 1992 movie, the production team never wanted to replicate the film. Their reference material was all of the historical research, photographs, and real stories from the time. Cybel is interested in 1940’s films, sports, and female athletes so there were many elements in the show that she was excited to explore. She shot three of the episodes and her favorite one, “Over the Rainbow” features one of the characters going to an underground speakeasy. Cybel loves the idea of speakeasies and house parties- a place that is secret, where you can be bold, naughty and intimate, but also have a place for community. They shot the speakeasy scenes in just a day and a half, with two steadicam operators, and played with shutter angles and color palette in the dance sequences, with In The Mood For Love as an inspiration for the colors. As a painter and photographer, Cybel was also grateful she could bring her own aesthetic to the project.

Cybel’s latest project is Beacon 23, a new futuristic sci-fi series set to air in 2023.

Find Cybel Martin: https://www.cybeldp.com/
Instagram & Twitter: @cybeldp

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep180/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

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

June 18, 2020

Director Yance Ford, DP Alan Jacobsen on Oscar-nominated documentary, Strong Island and the importance of breaking your own rules

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 79: Yance Ford and Alan Jacobsen

Yance Ford’s powerful documentary, Strong Island, is about the murder of his brother, William Ford Jr. in 1992. The man who killed William, who is white, claimed self-defense when William, who was black and unarmed, confronted the man over shady car repairs. The decision by an all-white grand jury not to prosecute caused Yance’s family even more devastation. The film conveys the personal agony and visceral grief in tight closeups on family, friends and Yance himself. Interestingly, at first Yance had a set of rules for how he wanted the documentary to be shot. Number one: he did not want to be on camera. But cinematographer Alan Jacobsen broke the rules, secretly shooting Yance from a corner one day while he was absorbed in looking at old photographs. They both saw how powerful it was to have Yance take a front-and-center role in the documentary. That intimacy proved to be the most important aspect of Strong Island, but the most difficult part for Yance. A first time director at the time, Yance felt fortunate to have the luxury of working on Strong Island for ten years as a two person team with Alan, and every creative decision of what the film would look and feel like was carefully and deliberately made. Alan used the camera as a tool to maintain the intimacy of the film. He would never pan or tilt, and he kept most shots tightly framed. Every shot was held for at least 60 seconds to hold the intensity and force the audience to watch, even if it became uncomfortable. Strong Island was nominated for an Academy Award in 2018 and also won a Creative Arts Emmy.

You can stream Strong Island right now on Netflix. https://www.strongislandfilm.com/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h64qugj_iDg

Yance Ford is a transgender director, and he talks about his experience in Hollywood in the documentary Disclosure, on Netflix June 19. http://www.disclosurethemovie.com/about
https://www.facebook.com/netflixus/videos/disclosure-netflix/1566941396799781/

Find Yance Ford: Twitter @yford
Strong Island: @strongislandfilm

Find Alan Jacobsen: https://www.alanjax.com/ Instagram @alanjax7

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep79/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com
Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

June 10, 2020

Bradford Young, ASC- PART 2: Arrival, directors Denis Villeneuve, Ron Howard, and Ava DuVernay, Solo: A Star Wars Story, When They See Us, working on long form episodic vs. movies

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 78: Bradford Young, PART 2

Bradford Young continues our conversation from his busy household. One lesson he’s learned is that the cinematographer’s job is to make the director happy. Bradford was drawn to the science fiction film Arrival because it had an intimacy and a perspective about who we are that many sci-fi movies lack. Arrival takes us on a journey of discovery while keeping the human experience at the center of the film, with the camera following Louise, played by Amy Adams, the entire time. At first, Bradford found it difficult to find the visual language of the story, since it was so much about decoding the aliens’ language. But his collaboration with Denis Villeneuve and the rest of the team makes Arrival feel cohesive and engaging. When Bradford was approached to shoot Solo: A Star Wars Story, he knew it would be a power move for his career, although it was uniquely challenging to work with four cameras plus huge action sequences and special effects. He also had to adjust to the turmoil of Lucasfilm’s decision to fire directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who were replaced by director Ron Howard in the middle of the Solo shoot. But Bradford felt fortunate to be able to continue shooting Solo and to work with a seasoned and respected director like Ron Howard. Bradford was happy to work with director Ava DuVernay again on When They See Us, which was his first episodic series. He and DuVernay wanted to bring weight and care with their approach to the story of the Central Park Five, using minimal lighting, composed photographic shots and anamorphic lenses. For Bradford, When They See Us was a hard story to tell and they told it the best way they could. He feels that while films are powerful, they are also fleeting- sometimes it takes longer to tell and inform a story, and the injustices done to Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray and Yusef Salaam was better served as a series.

Find Bradford Young https://luxartists.net/bradford-young/

You can stream When They See Us right now on Netflix. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHbOt2M8md0

You can find Selma streaming on Amazon, Vudu, or iTunes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6t7vVTxaic

Bradford Young was featured in the May 2020 issue of American Cinematographer. https://ascmag.com/magazine-issues/may-2020

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep78/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com
Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

June 3, 2020

Bradford Young, ASC- PART 1: Selma, directors Dee Rees and Ava DuVernay, Pariah, Mississippi Damned, A Most Violent Year, bringing his personal voice to filmmaking

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 77: Bradford Young, PART 1

Oscar-nominated cinematographer Bradford Young feels every story has a personal connection to tell and translate through the language of images. As an African American, telling the story of Selma was very important and close to him. He’d heard the story of Dr. Martin Luther King’s march from Selma and the fight for civil rights from his aunt and grandparents as a kid. He sees the essence of his existence coming from those struggles. Growing up, at first Bradford thought he’d go into the family mortuary business. But he always felt drawn to the arts and his father encouraged him to pursue it as a career. He went to Howard University to study journalism and soon switched to film. Bradford attended graduate school with director Dee Rees who hired him to shoot her film Pariah, which went to Sundance and won multiple awards at film festivals. But small independent films with black voices don’t get a lot of mainstream attention, and he was told his reel didn’t have enough “scope” to get bigger jobs. When seeking an agent, Bradford was told his talent for cinematography was seen as a “fluke.” He found he had to be resilient and continue to tell his own story through his work with diverse filmmakers. Ava DuVernay was familiar with his work and hired him to shoot her film Middle of Nowhere and then Selma, about the march from Selma to Montgomery to secure equal voting rights for African Americans in 1965. For Bradford, the cultural resonance of Selma was not the Oscar nomination, but that Ava DuVernay, a black woman director, was seen with respect and shown to be an important and powerful voice in Hollywood.

Listen for Bradford Young Part 2- coming next week! He talks about Arrival, When They See Us, Solo: A Star Wars Story and much more.

Find Bradford Young https://luxartists.net/bradford-young/

You can stream When They See Us right now on Netflix. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHbOt2M8md0

You can find Selma streaming on Amazon, Vudu, or iTunes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6t7vVTxaic

Bradford Young was featured in the May 2020 issue of American Cinematographer. https://ascmag.com/magazine-issues/may-2020

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep77/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com
Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

March 30, 2020

BONUS Episode: J.D. Dillard, director of Sweetheart and Sleight

The Cinematography Podcast Bonus Episode: Director J.D. Dillard

It’s another very special Shelter In Place episode as we stay home and dig into our archives to bring you some past podcasts you might have missed. Enjoy our show and these films from the comfort of your safe space.

One of Illya’s favorite movies at Sundance in 2019 was J.D. Dillard’s midnight movie, Sweetheart. The horror/thriller movie stars Kiersey Clemons (Hearts Beat Loud, Dope) as a woman who is stranded on a desert island and stalked by a mysterious monster. J.D. discusses the difficulties of shooting on a small island in Fiji, on a short time schedule, while being entirely outdoors and subject to the whims of nature. As a black filmmaker, he feels like it’s important to put people who look like him in genre films such as fantasy and horror. Blumhouse, known for their horror movie slate, produced Sweetheart and you can currently stream it on Netflix.

J.D. is currently developing a new Star Wars project.

Find J.D. Dillard: @JGDillard (Twitter & Instagram)

Sweetheart is now streaming on Netflix. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyg3gU09SX8 (trailer)

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

LIKE AND FOLLOW US, send fan mail or suggestions!
Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
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Brought to you by Hot Rod Cameras: Find your next camera, lens, light or accessory at https://hotrodcameras.com/

March 18, 2020

DP Kira Kelly on working with director Ava DuVernay, her Netflix series Self Made, 13th, Queen Sugar, East Los High

Cinematographer Kira Kelly had years of experience before director Ava DuVernay approached her to shoot her documentary, 13th. For 13th, DuVernay was interested in creating artful, composed shots rather than the typical “talking heads” of most documentaries, and pushed Kira and the team to get creative about how it was framed. The film examines the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery, yet the mass incarceration of African-Americans continues to this day as its own kind of slavery. 13th was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2017. Kira collaborated with DuVernay again on the second season of the critically-acclaimed series, Queen Sugar. When she was first starting out, Kira worked as a gaffer before moving into the camera department and establishing herself as a cinematographer, shooting a small independent film called Were the World Mine. Producer/director Carlos Portugal noticed her work and hired her to shoot four seasons of Hulu’s Emmy-nominated series, East Los High.

Kira Kelly’s latest show is a limited series for Netflix called Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madame C.J. Walker, starring Octavia Spencer. The series is based on the real-life story of an African American washerwoman who builds a hair product empire to become the first female self-made millionaire. Self-Made is on Netflix beginning March 20. https://www.netflix.com/title/80202462

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep67/

LIKE AND FOLLOW US, send fan mail or suggestions!
Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

Brought to you by Hot Rod Cameras: Find your next camera, lens, light or accessory at https://hotrodcameras.com/

Hot Rod Cameras is giving away TWO professional, cinema quality Aputure MC lights! One for you AND a friend you tag! Go to http://hotrodcameras.com/giveaway to enter. Contest ends March 30, 2020.