August 3, 2022

Jules O’Loughlin ASC, ACS on shooting the FX series The Old Man and Disney+ series Ms. Marvel

Australian cinematographer Jules O’Loughlin’s path to movie making was a long journey. After graduating from the prestigious AFTRS- Australian Film Television and Radio School- he worked steadily and shot a wide range of films and TV shows including the action movie The Hitman’s Bodyguard, the series Black Sails, the horror movie Krampus and the children’s film Come Away. His recent work on two series, The Old Man and Ms. Marvel, show off his ability to visually transport audiences to other worlds.

The FX action spy series The Old Man began shooting in the fall of 2019. Jeff Bridges plays Dan Chase, a retired CIA agent whose old enemies are still hunting him. The series is very well acted, with great dialog scenes between Bridges and John Lithgow. Jules believes that as a cinematographer, it’s important to tread softly, be respectful and give the actors space to work without technical distractions. Jules shot two episodes of the series, with a planned location shoot in Morocco which was standing in for Afghanistan. But in March of 2020 the entire production shut down because of the pandemic. After a few months, production resumed and the desert around Santa Clarita, CA became the Afghanistan location. Unfortunately, shortly after that, Jeff Bridges, who actually did a lot of the fight scenes himself, was diagnosed with lymphoma. Bridges’ stunt double stepped in and the VFX team used some digital face replacement for certain parts while he was undergoing treatment. Despite all the setbacks, The Old Man has been a hit and is coming back for a second season.

The Disney+ series Ms. Marvel is about young Pakistani-American teen Kamala Khan, who discovers she has super powers after putting on a magic bracelet. The show is energetic, vibrant and colorful, reflecting Kamala’s personality and South Asian culture. Jules and director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy knew they could create a slightly different look for episodes four and five, since they take place in the Pakistan city of Karachi. Obaid-Chinoy is an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker, and she and Jules chose to use more handheld cameras to explore the story’s historic narrative as Kamala travels through time to learn more about her family’s past. Ms. Marvel has brought an enthusiastic younger audience who are responding to Kamala’s cultural identity. In Pakistan. Ms. Marvel is showing in movie theaters, since Disney+ is not available.

Jules is currently working on Percy Jackson and the Olympians for Disney+, which involves some new challenges using LED screens on the soundstage.

Find Jules O’Loughlin: https://www.julesoloughlin.com/
Instagram: @jules.oloughlin

The Old Man is on Hulu and Ms. Marvel is available on Disney+. Both shows are currently streaming all episodes.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep177/

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

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

July 20, 2022

Cinematographer Paula Huidobro on CODA, Pam & Tommy, Physical

Our returning guest is Paula Huidobro, who has been very busy the past few years shooting the 2022 Best Picture winning film CODA, the Hulu series Pam & Tommy, and the AppleTV+ series Physical, just to name a few.

Paula and CODA director Siân Heder knew each other as grad students at AFI, and have worked together on four other projects including the film Tallulah and the show Little America. For Paula, shooting CODA was definitely a different process. There were interpreters for each of the actors on set, and most shots had to be framed as medium shots so that their hands could be seen while they were talking. There could be few over the shoulder shots, or someone saying lines with their back to the other person. Siân Heder and Paula wanted to make sure that a deaf person watching the movie could understand exactly what the actors were saying. CODA is set in a New England fishing village, and Paula found it was a very visual environment to shoot, and extra challenging going out on a fishing boat in the ocean.

The Hulu show Pam & Tommy is about the 1990’s stolen sex tape of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. Paula served as DP for every episode of the 8-part series, and she watched Pamela’s film Barb Wire and Tommy’s Mötley Crüe performances for the references. It was hard work to shoot every single episode- she felt she never had enough prep time with the director, location scouting or script. She enjoyed working with director Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya, Cruella) who also was the pilot director on Physical. He wanted to give complete freedom to the actors to move within the scene, so Paula would light the whole space and would start with her camera all the way wide, then push in for a close up. It was like a dance between the actors and they would explore the scene as they filmed it. Paula would shoot in nearly one take then just pick up whatever was missing. Pam & Tommy has a very aggressive style, using a lot of shots pushing in closer and closer, as the release of the sex tape and the fallout for Pamela’s career becomes an unstoppable freight train. It also has elements of humor and absurdity, and Paula enjoyed the novelty of shooting scenes with Tommy’s talking penis (an animatronic). Pam & Tommy had an excellent makeup and prosthetics department, and actors Lily James and Sebastian Stan are made up to be remarkable likenesses of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. Paula found the makeup to be so good that it wasn’t difficult to light the actors. Most of all, Paula and each of the directors wanted to be thoughtful in how they portrayed Pamela Anderson and how her world and entire career had been shattered by illegally releasing this tape.

Physical explores the troubled interior life of Sheila Rubin, an extremely unhappy 1980’s suburban housewife with an eating disorder. But once she finds aerobics, things begin to change for her. Paula finds Physical to be a very dark show, but she really likes how they portray Sheila’s inner thoughts. The character almost always says one thing but in her mind she’s thinking dark thoughts about herself or someone else. Paula would hold shots on actor Rose Byrne a bit longer so that later, her inner thoughts are added in voiceover. The show has great production design- a mix of drab and dark 70’s interiors with big splashes of 80’s color saturation on the set, especially during the workout scenes. Paula enjoyed being able to do some fun and playful things with lighting and camera work for the aerobics sequences.

Find Paula Huidobro: https://www.paulahuidobro.com/
Instagram @paulahuidobro

CODA is streaming on AppleTV+. Physical Season 2 is currently streaming on AppleTV+. You can find Pam & Tommy, a limited series, on Hulu.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep175/

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

July 13, 2022

Cinematographer Chris Teague on the Hulu series Only Murders in the Building

Cinematographer Chris Teague has shot many acclaimed television series and films such as Obvious Child, GLOW, Russian Doll and Mrs. America. His latest work is on the Hulu series, Only Murders in the Building, both Season One and Season Two, and he also directed episodes seven and eight of Season Two.

Only Murders in the Building has many different tones, ranging from funny to dark, dramatic and even scary. The show manages to strike a balance to keep the darkness from undermining the comedy. As the DP, Chris created a very cinematic and timeless look and feel for the show, which is mainly shot on sets that are meticulously built and planned. Each episode takes about 6 ½ days to shoot, and Chris and the crew are able to create visually interesting shots that feel very natural because of having such well built sets with excellent lighting. Actors Martin Short and Steve Martin have such a rapport, and their friend dynamic is baked into the script- the two actually don’t do very much improv or riffing. If they do come up with something, Martin and Short run the line changes through for the crew to see how they play. Chris has enjoyed coming back to work on a second season of the show, because he has a body of work to reference and the crew knows the look of the show really well.

As a kid, Chris made lots of short movies with friends growing up, and always loved photography and writing. It seemed a natural fit to go to film school and he decided to pursue cinematography full time after the film he shot, Obvious Child, went to Sundance in 2014.

Find Chris Teague: http://www.christeaguefilm.com
Instagram @_christeague

Only Murders in the Building Season 2 is currently airing on Hulu.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep174/

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

June 22, 2022

Director Jim Archer, actors and writers David Earl and Chris Hayward on the offbeat film, Brian and Charles

Brian and Charles is about an awkward and lonely inventor, Brian, who lives in rural Wales. He rarely makes contraptions that are useful or work right, but one day, he finally creates a robot. Charles Petrescu, built out of an old washing machine and a mannequin, becomes Brian’s friend. But as Charles becomes more and more curious and self-aware, he decides he wants to explore the world on his own.

Actor David Earl is a comedian and came up with the eccentric character of Brian as a bit on the stand up circuit in the UK. One day on an internet radio call in show, a friend called in to interact with David’s character using computer voice simulation software. Fellow actor and comedian Chris Hayward heard it, came up with the idea of Charles as Brian’s robot sidekick, and the two took it on the road as a live show. Chris built the Charles robot character as a costume, and another friend would type in what Charles would say into the voice simulator to interact with the audience. In 2017, the two teamed up with director Jim Archer to make a short film about the characters, and it did well at festivals. After that, the UK production company Film4 backed developing the script into a feature film.

For the feature version of Brian and Charles, director Jim Archer decided to expand on the mockumentary style. He wanted it to look like a real documentary, with a serious dramatic and cinematic look rather than as a wink and a nod to other mockumentaries. The friends were inspired by the documentaries American Movie and Monster Road – true stories about lonely people desperate for their dream to come true.

Brian and Charles premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is currently playing in theaters. https://www.focusfeatures.com/brian-and-charles/watch/

Jim Archer: Instagram & Twitter: @alrightjim

David Earl: Instagram @davidearlhello

Chris Hayward: https://www.curtisbrown.co.uk/client/chris-hayward

Charles Petrescu has his own twitter account: @CharlesPetrescu

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep173/

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

June 15, 2022

Director Chloe Okuno and DP Benjamin Kirk Nielsen, DFF on directing and shooting the film Watcher

Watcher is a psychological thriller about a young actress, Julia, who has just moved to Romania from the U.S. with her boyfriend. A serial killer is on the loose in the city, and Julia begins to feel like she is being followed and watched from the apartment across the street. She has trouble convincing her boyfriend and the police that she’s being stalked, and the film builds on her increasing sense of dread.

Director Chloe Okuno and DP Benjamin Kirk Nielsen first met at American Film Institute, and collaborated on their thesis film, a short horror movie called Slut. They both believe in extensive organization, preparation, shotlisting and planning for their projects. Chloe was hired to direct Watcher in 2017, and it took some time to get the movie off the ground. They ended up shooting in Romania during the summer of 2021 under strict COVID protocols. Chloe liked that the script was a simple thriller that could be told from one character’s point of view. Chloe and Benjamin looked at Rosemary’s Baby, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and David Fincher films Seven and Gone Girl as references to impart the sense of terror Julia feels. Benjamin wanted to find a simple, straightforward way to portray Julia’s isolation in a foreign city as her fear escalates. He chose to start with longer camera focal lengths and longer shots, then progressively move closer and closer as the Watcher creeps closer and closer to Julia.

Watcher premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is currently playing in theaters. https://www.watchermovie.com/

Chloe Okuno: Twitter @cokuno_san

Benjamin Kirk Nielsen: http://benjaminkirk.dk/
Instagram: @b_kirk

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep172/

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