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

March 10, 2021

Benjamin Kracun, cinematographer of Promising Young Woman, on shooting the dark comedy and working with director/writer Emerald Fennell

The film Promising Young Woman is many things: a dark comedy-noir-thriller-revenge fantasy, and even part romantic comedy. The film centers on Cassie, a smart and complicated character seeking revenge on men who prey on drunk women. Cinematographer Benjamin Kračun first met director and writer Emerald Fennell while working on a short video project together. Fennell mentioned she was working on a feature project, and she eventually contacted Ben to let him know she had funding and was ready to shoot. Fennell had seen one of Ben’s previous films, Beast, which she felt had a similar sensibility.

Once Fennell sent the script, Ben read it and found himself completely hooked. He found it very exciting because it was so unlike any Hollywood script he’d seen- a taut thriller, but a fun and enjoyable popcorn movie with elements of romantic comedy. He could see that the film would spark a cultural discussion afterward.

For their first meeting, Ben put together images and ideas of what he thought the movie would look like- very dark, dramatic looks from films such as Gone Girl and Magnolia. Fennell came with a look book for a film full of pastel colors and the main character, Cassie, would dress in bright, happy colors. Ben was surprised at first, but Emerald had a very specific point of view for what she wanted. It was very clear from the beginning that it was Emerald’s vision and her voice, even though it was her first feature film. Ben likes having specificity at all times from the director, and you can see when a movie has carefully thought through everything. Cassie is in disguise, working at a bright coffee shop by day, and playing different drunk girl roles at night, planning for something bigger. Using the pastel palette in the film takes Promising Young Woman a step away from reality, and hides the darkest undertones of what is really going on, and the audience doesn’t see what’s coming.

You can pay to see Promising Young Woman streaming on VOD services.

Find Benjamin Kračun: https://benjaminkracun.com/
Instagram: @benkracun

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep116/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz