October 5, 2022

Mike Prickett, Emmy-winning surf cinematographer of HBOs 100 Foot Wave

The six part HBO documentary 100 Foot Wave is the story of big wave surfer Garrett McNamara, as he learns about the biggest waves in the world in Nazaré, Portugal. Then, with help from the town of Nazaré, he and his team set up a safety and support system and invite surfers to come from all over the world to surf. The series captures the amazing power of the ocean, and the passion of surfers chasing big waves and putting themselves at risk of serious injury and death.

Surf and ocean cinematographer Mike Prickett was the perfect DP for 100 Foot Wave. Mike has decades of experience shooting in the water, following Garrett and many other big wave surfers around the world. He’s shot documentaries Riding Giants, Step Into Liquid and the biopic Chasing Mavericks. As a kid growing up on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, Mike took advantage of living in a tourist spot. He had his own camera, took pictures of the tourists, developed and printed the pictures while they did glass bottom boat tours, and then sold the photos to them when they returned. He soon figured out how to take photos underwater with his camera in a water housing, then got a 16mm Bolex camera and started shooting movies. Mike learned how to surf and began filming the top surfers around the world, developing new and better camera systems as the technology progressed.

On a shoot in Tahiti in 2012, Mike saved a diver who got caught in a current that pushed him down at least 220 feet underwater. As Mike swam back up with the diver, they began to run out of air and had to surface quickly. Mike got the bends, which has left his legs partially paralyzed. But he’s kept right on shooting, developing different and exciting ways to further the technology of water cinematography. Mike says that even if you can’t use your legs very well, it doesn’t matter when you’re out there. He’s able to shoot from the cliffs, use remote controlled jet skis and drones, and fly in helicopters, ride jet skis or boats on the ocean.

For 100 Foot Wave, Nazaré, Portugal presented some unique challenges as a location, because the waves are so big and the area gets so foggy. The surfers and the camera crew wait all year for the big waves to come to Nazaré by November and December, and they must be ready to go and shoot at a moment’s notice. Shooting is a massive undertaking, with at least 15 camera people on the waves to catch the action. The crew caught the action with long lenses from the cliffs, the beach, and with waterproof drones, but when it was foggy, they needed to have people in the water. Mike and the team built a special remote controlled electric jet ski with a gimbal system that could be controlled by an operator from the cliffs- basically inventing a way to do smooth dolly shots on the water.

Mike Prickett just won a Creative Arts Emmy for episode four of 100 Foot Wave.

100 Foot Wave is streaming on HBOMax.

Find Mike Prickett: https://saltnairstudios.com/
Instagram: @mikeprickett_

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep186/

Sponsored by DZOFilm: https://www.dzofilm.com/
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

March 2, 2022

Judith Weston, author of Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film and Television, 25th Anniversary edition

Judith Weston has coached and taught directing classes to several now renowned directors, such as David Chase, Ava DuVernay and Taika Waititi. She has updated her book, Directing Actors for its 25th anniversary edition, revising nearly every chapter and adding two new ones.

Judith teaches that a director must have a vision. It’s the director’s job to be the shepherd of the story and have it mean something. The director must also go deeper to figure out what matters to the story, and listen, communicate and collaborate with the actor on the ideas they are trying to convey. A key chapter in Directing Actors discusses how a director must find the “emotional event” or the key dynamics in each scene. This is something both the cinematographer and the editor must understand as well to make a good movie great. Finding the essential emotional event in a scene is what changes someone from simply wanting to be a director into actually thinking like a director.

Find Judith Weston: https://judithweston.com/

Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film and Television, 25th Anniversary Edition is available on Amazon

WIN an autographed copy of Directing Actors, 25th Anniversary Edition! Follow us on Instagram (if you don’t already!) @thecinepod and comment on our post for this episode!

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep161/

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

January 19, 2022

Quyen Tran, ASC, on directing and shooting episodes of the Netflix limited series Maid

Cinematographer Quyen Tran, ASC enjoys telling stories that are compelling and have impact and meaning. Q’s previous work on the show Unbelievable led showrunner Molly Smith Metzler and executive producer John Wells to ask her to shoot Maid, a limited series for Netflix. Maid deals with the complex issues of poverty, domestic abuse, the working poor, addiction, single parenthood and mental health. With amazing performances by Margaret Qualley, Andi McDowell and young actor Rylea Nevaeh Whittet, the series handles all of these heavy and heartbreaking issues with sensitivity, peppered with moments of levity and joy.

For Q, shooting Maid was incredible, and incredibly challenging. It was her first job during the pandemic, beginning in August of 2020, and the crew had to quarantine for two weeks in Victoria, British Columbia, wear masks, get frequent COVID tests and follow strict COVID protocols. Quyen thought she would only do the pre-production and shoot the pilot because she didn’t want to leave her family for very long.

Quyen shot extensive tests for the look of Maid. She knew it would be primarily handheld, which creates intimacy and forces a personal perspective on the viewer. Q decided she wanted to use the Alexa Mini and Panaspeed lenses because of the vintage, soft look, and they allow for close camera to subject distance. As part of the pre-production process, Q created a look book for the whole series that the other DPs could pick up and reference.

After shooting the pilot, Q returned to Los Angeles. Then, right after the holidays, director/executive producer John Wells asked Quyen to come back and direct episode eight of Maid. Although Q had a little bit of experience directing, it was very scary for her to even think about directing in a narrative format. She never went into filmmaking to become a director, and never had the desire to be one. But she knew she could do it because she was so familiar with the characters and the story. As both DP and operator on the show, Q already had a rapport with the actors, but now as a director, it was about discussing the motivation of why their characters were doing certain actions. She also had to keep three year old actor Rylea Whittet engaged with the action. As Maddy, single mom Alex’s daughter, Rylea is in nearly every scene and Q often entertained her with piggyback rides and games. For her directorial episode, Quyen camera prepped everything and storyboarded the entire episode. One of the most visually interesting and challenging elements in the episode Q directed is the couch that literally pulls Alex in and swallows her. Q and the production designer worked together for about three weeks to create the couch that Alex could sink right into and disappear.

During the pandemic and in their down time, Quyen and her friend and fellow DP, Jeanne Tyson, found a passion for making sourdough bread. They started Doughrectors of Photography and in exchange for a donation to the LA Food Bank or other charity, patrons receive bread, cookies or other goodies. You can check out Doughrectors of Photography and find out how you can donate and get some delicious baked goods on Instagram at @doughrectorsofphotography

Find Quyen Tran: https://www.qtranfilms.com/
Instagram: @qgar

You can see Maid on Netflix

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep155/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Sponsored by Assemble: Assemble has amazing production management software. Use the code cinepod to try a month for free! https://www.assemble.tv/
Be sure to watch our YouTube video of Nate Watkin showing how Assemble works! https://youtu.be/IlpismVjab8

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