August 23, 2020

Emmy-nominated director and cinematographer Paul Cameron, ASC: Westworld, 21 Bridges, Man on Fire, Gone in 60 Seconds, Collateral

Paul Cameron, ASC got his start guerilla-shooting live music with borrowed equipment from film school. Starting off in the budding world of music videos and fast-paced commercials creatively prepared Paul for the action/thriller genre. Paul met cinematographer-turned-director Dominic Sena, who gave him the opportunity to shoot Paul’s first feature, Gone in 60 Seconds. They were able to collaborate and communicate with a shared visual language. Later, Paul’s work on the film Man on Fire with director Tony Scott allowed him to really hone his look. Though he prefers to use film cameras, Paul had the opportunity to shoot Michael Mann’s Collateral with digital cameras, one of the first major films to use the technology. Jonathan Nolan, the director and producer of the HBO series, Westworld, asked Paul to shoot the pilot before there was even a script. They quickly decided to shoot on 35 mm to capture the grand scale of the western landscape. For season three of Westworld, Paul was the director of photography for the first episode, and has earned an Emmy nomination for his work. He also had the opportunity to direct episode four of the series for the very first time and really enjoyed it. Westworld will return for Season 4.

Find Paul Cameron: https://paulcamerondp.com/
Instagram: @paulcameron_dp

See Westworld on HBO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvGE7Cz9VDA

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep88/

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

August 18, 2020

Director and DP Brandon Trost: directing An American Pickle, shooting Crank: High Voltage, Halloween II, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, HBO pilot for Barry, comedy films MacGruber, The Interview and The Disaster Artist

Cinematographer and director Brandon Trost enjoys exploring different genres and styles of filmmaking, trying different things that push him outside of his comfort zone. Brandon grew up around film- he is the fourth generation of his family working in the movie industry. He attended LA Film School and soon began working as a cinematographer. One of Brandon’s early films, the action movie Crank: High Voltage, was shot much like a skateboarding video, with several small cameras strategically placed to capture the frenetic pace so that it would feel electric. Brandon loved working with director Rob Zombie on Halloween II, which was shot on 16 mm film for a very grainy and gritty look. Shooting the comedy film MacGruber was Brandon’s first experience working in the humor genre. He and director Jorma Taccone wanted it to look like Die Hard, taking all the action movie tropes to an extreme, which is what made it funny rather than choosing to shoot it like a conventional comedy movie. MacGruber helped launch Brandon’s career into shooting comedy movies This is the End, The Interview, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Neighbors and The Disaster Artist with Seth Rogan, Andy Sandberg, and James Franco. When shooting with comedians, Brandon found it’s important to be prepared for improvisation and to light the space so there’s flexibility for the actors to move within it, keeping shots fairly wide. For the films Diary of a Teenage Girl and Can You Ever Forgive Me? Brandon had the opportunity to switch gears again, working with director Marielle Heller. They chose a camera and lenses for Can You Ever Forgive Me? that gave the film a real, naturalistic, even unflattering look to Melissa McCarthy’s character. Brandon got to explore dark comedy again in the pilot for the HBO series, Barry. Creators Bill Hader and Alec Berg wanted the violence to feel very real, dark and yet funny, so Brandon chose to treat the pilot like a Coen brothers movie, using moody lighting and shooting with a single camera. An American Pickle is Brandon’s first time directing a large feature film. Frequent collaborators Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg asked Brandon to take a look at the script with an eye to directing, and the story appealed to him. Directing An American Pickle was challenging since Seth Rogan plays both main characters. Much of the film had to be shot twice- once with Seth Rogan as the character Herschel and then as the character Ben. Brandon found that choosing a director of photography when you’re also a cinematographer can be difficult, and he chose DP John Guleserian (Like Crazy, About Time, Love, Simon, the upcoming Candyman) to shoot the movie because he has a great sense of humor and is very collaborative.

Find Brandon Trost: https://www.brandontrost.com/
Twitter: @b_tro

See An American Pickle on HBO Max
Our interview with DP John Guleserian will be coming in October.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep87/

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

August 10, 2020

Director Ron Howard and DP Lincoln Else on the documentary Rebuilding Paradise

Oscar-winning director Ron Howard talks about directing his first documentary, Rebuilding Paradise, about the devastating Camp fire that completely wiped out the town of Paradise, California on November 8, 2018. The film follows the people in community over time as they deal with the tragedy and begin rebuilding. Directing a documentary was a new experience for Ron, and he felt a personal connection to the town- his mother-in-law had lived in Paradise. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s production company, Imagine, had wanted to start producing documentaries and they sent out a crew to begin shooting just one week after the fire. Ron picked up some new skills while working on the unscripted project. He had to learn how to let the cameras follow the flow of the conversation, and to be minimalist in covering every possible angle. The experience has led him to make directorial choices in his scripted work that are more verité. Director of photography Lincoln Else worked closely with Ron and the Imagine production team, and developed a unified visual language for Rebuilding Paradise that he communicated with the other shooters. Lincoln learned documentary filmmaking at an early age, loading 16mm mags and assisting his father, documentarian and professor Jon Else. He likes a very simple hand-held style, opting to just put a camera on his shoulder in order to be as reactive as possible. Though footage from many different news sources and people’s personal videos was used, the bulk of the interview content in Rebuilding Paradise was “fly on the wall” style.

See Rebuilding Paradise online and support your local theater! https://films.nationalgeographic.com/rebuilding-paradise#screenings

Find Ron Howard: https://imagine-entertainment.com/
Instagram @realronhoward
Twitter: @realronhoward

Find Lincoln Else: http://www.novusselect.com/
https://lincolnelse.com/
Instagram: @lincolnelse

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep86/

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

July 2, 2020

Serengeti director/producer John Downer and DP Richard Jones on the Discovery Channel series, the challenges and new technologies for shooting wildlife documentaries

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 81: John Downer and Richard Jones

Director John Downer and cinematographer Richard Jones have always had a love of animals. John went to work for the BBC after film school and quickly moved into the BBC Natural History division. Richard grew up in Kenya and started out in the film industry, then went to work with a wildlife filmmaker in Botswana, soon picking up a camera and teaching himself. They both agree that to be a good wildlife documentarian, it’s important to spend a great deal of time around the animals, in order to understand and anticipate what they are going to do and capture it on camera. For the Discovery Channel/BBC series Serengeti, John and Richard felt for the first time that all the camera technology was finally advanced enough to capture the true nature of the animal’s lives. They were able to use small, high quality hidden remote cameras that are durable and “lion proof,” as well as a special array of cameras with long lenses on a stabilization system attached to their vehicles, so Richard could shoot while the jeep was driving. While wild animals are definitely not directable, John and Richard knew what wildlife they wanted to follow as characters with the script following the changing seasons as an overarching story plotline. Serengeti follows the interconnected stories of a cast of savannah animals over one year, capturing the drama of the wildlife up close. It was important for John and producer Simon Fuller to show that animals are a lot like us and we are all in this world together.

See Serengeti on Discovery GO: https://go.discovery.com/tv-shows/serengeti/
Find John Downer: http://jdp.co.uk/
Find Richard Jones: http://rmjfilming.com/

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep81/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com

Website: www.camnoir.com
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

May 27, 2020

Suzie Lavelle, DP on the Hulu series Normal People, working with Lenny Abrahamson, BBC series Dr. Who, Sherlock, Vikings, A Discovery of Witches, His Dark Materials

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 76: Suzie Lavelle

Irish cinematographer Suzie Lavelle loves to be very hands on and involved in visual storytelling. From a young age, Suzie had an interest in photography, went to art school and was accepted into the renowned National Film and Television School in London. She began working on short films and features, one of which, The Other Side of Sleep, was shown at the Cannes Film Festival. Shortly after, Suzie landed her first television job shooting an episode of Dr. Who Season 7, an amazing opportunity that led to a long career on large scale shows such as Vikings, His Dark Materials, A Discovery of Witches, and Sherlock. Sherlock: The Abominable Bride is a single 90-minute long episode which takes place during the Victorian era and Suzie was Emmy nominated for Best Cinematography. Suzie was excited to work with director and fellow countryman Lenny Abrahamson on the new Hulu series Normal People. Normal People is about the often rocky, romantic relationship between Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal) who grew up in the same small town in Ireland. Abrahamson and Suzie worked together to create very beautiful, close up and intimate scenes between the actors, which required a small footprint, few lights and the use of a single handheld camera.

Normal People is currently streaming on Hulu.

Find Suzie Lavelle: http://www.suzielavelle.com/
Instagram: @suziecine

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep76/
Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com
Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

May 21, 2020

Trevor Forrest talks Little Fires Everywhere, remembering producer/director Lynn Shelton, the TV series I Am the Night, critically acclaimed films Una Noche and Noble

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 75: Trevor Forrest

A note: We were sorry to hear of director Lynn Shelton’s passing. Her most recent directing and executive producing project was the Hulu series, Little Fires Everywhere. Her death is also a huge loss to the independent film community. Trevor Forrest leads off the episode with a tribute to Lynn.

Trevor Forrest grew up in England and the Bahamas, and went to art school to study painting. He began making photo compositions and moving into fashion photography, traveling the world and letting it lead him into storytelling through cinematography. One of Trevor’s early films, Una Noche takes place in Cuba, and he captured the rhythm and feel of the island through mostly hand-held camera work. Una Noche won Best Cinematography at the Tribeca Film Festival. Noble, an award-winning biopic about children’s rights advocate Christina Noble, allowed Trevor to use vintage lenses to capture the look of the time period. Trevor’s art school training came into play when he shot the dramatic series, I Am The Night, about the possible killer of the Black Dahlia. He used a darker lighting technique, using lights only to highlight the actors and scenes, allowing the viewer to peer into the darkness and pick out the details. In Little Fires Everywhere, the show explores the complicated world of race, class and motherhood through the dueling protagonists Elena (Reese Witherspoon) and Mia (Kerry Washington). Despite it being shot in Los Angeles, Trevor wanted the series to evoke the look and feel of Ohio, including the difference in the quality of light and the changing of the seasons as the show progresses through the year. Capturing that feeling on film required warmer and cooler lighting techniques and careful lens choices and calibration. The fiery finale was a combination of practical and special effects done with sets, models and computer graphics.

Little Fires Everywhere is currently streaming on Hulu. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWGkX8ClhBI

Find Trevor Forrest: www.trevorforrest.com
Instagram: @tforrestdop 

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep75/

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

May 18, 2020

BONUS Episode: Oscar-nominated cinematographer Xiaoding Zhao on the movie Shadow and working with director Zhang Yimou on eleven films, including House of Flying Daggers

The Cinematography Podcast Bonus Episode: Xiaoding Zhao

Illya sat down with cinematographer Xiaoding Zhao and Shadow producer and translator Ellen Eliasoph at Cameraimage 2019 to discuss the film Shadow. Director Zhang Yimou and Zhao worked together to create a very distinctive color palette, wanting it to appear to be like a Chinese ink brush painting. The costumes are also all in gray or black for the same ink washed look. It also enabled the color of red blood to show bold and bright against the duller background. For Shadow, Zhang Yimou chose to make most of the action design in constant rain, which proved a huge challenge for Zhao. Getting the proper lighting was difficult, because he wanted to use a softer light on the actor’s faces, but illuminating the hard contrast on a wet and dark exterior was also important. Zhao actually started off life as a professional speed skater, but got injured and couldn’t continue, so he began taking photos and videos of his speed skating team. He found he really enjoyed the work and was admitted to the prestigious Beijing Film Academy. Zhao and Zhang Yimou have made 11 movies together, including the acclaimed House of Flying Daggers, for which Zhao received an Oscar Nomination in 2004.

You can stream Shadow right now on Netflix. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGetemRDuVY

Find Xiaoding Zhao: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1618536/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr31

Special thanks to Shadow producer and translator Ellen Eliasoph

Zhao was featured in the May issue of American Cinematographer: https://ascmag.com/articles/asc-close-up-zhao-xiaoding

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

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

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