August 10, 2021

Cinematographer Flavio Labiano on Jungle Cruise, Timecrimes, Day of the Beast, and more

Cinematographer Flavio Labiano doesn’t consider himself an artist with a capital “A” but more of a craftsperson. To him, cinematography is a craft that you learn by making mistakes and taking risks, like any other craft that you hone and improve over time.

On Disney’s Jungle Cruise, Flavio found the planning and pre-production stages of the huge-scale movie to be especially challenging. It was about 100 days of planning, with two different sets- one in Hawaii and one in Atlanta, Georgia, and with the second unit shooting footage in the Amazon to use as background plates. All the exterior tank work was done in front of a blue screen in a parking lot in Atlanta. The town of Porto Velho, where the jungle cruise adventure begins, was mainly shot in Hawaii. Flavio paid close attention to the orientation of the sun in order to match the set in Hawaii with the set in Atlanta. He also had to match the hard sunlight in the South to the sunlight in Hawaii, and the crew had to deal with the constant interruptions of summer afternoon rainstorms in Georgia. Flavio and Jungle Cruise director, Jaume Collet-Serra, have worked together on several films including The Shallows, another movie that takes place mostly in water.

Flavio grew up in Spain, then moved to Los Angeles to attend AFI. He found his first film jobs working for Roger Corman’s studio alongside Wally Pfister, Phedon Papamichael, and Janusz Kaminski. Flavio moved back to Spain for film work and has made most of his career there with movies such as The Day of the Beast, which was a huge commercial success in Spain, and Timecrimes, an exciting and mind-bending thriller. Shortly after Timecrimes, he and fellow Spaniard, director Jaume Collet-Serra began working together. Influenced by director Alfred Hitchcock, who enjoyed making thrillers with characters who are celebrities, the two made Nonstop and Unknown with Liam Neeson.

You can watch Jungle Cruise on Disney+

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep135/

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 16, 2021

Jeffrey Jur, ASC on shooting Bridgerton, working with Shonda Rhimes, Dirty Dancing, The Big Picture, The Last Seduction, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and more

Cinematographer Jeffrey Jur chose the path of filmmaker not just as a job, but to put something out into the world that he finds personally wonderful and amazing. He sees filmmaking as a way to express what he says to the world visually and photographically. Jeff always tries to find projects that reflect a part of him and keep him creatively inspired.

For the Netflix series Bridgerton, executive producer Shonda Rhimes and the series directors knew the show needed to have a “female gaze” when it came to the sex scenes, emphasizing female pleasure and desire, bringing the series a refreshing, contemporary feel in spite of the historic setting. Jeff had shot several Shondaland projects over the past 20 years, beginning with the pilot for Grey’s Anatomy and the pilot for How To Get Away With Murder. As the DP of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Dirty Dancing, Jeff also had experience with shooting movies from a more feminine perspective. He likes what Shonda Rhimes has to say to the world about relationships and race, and the colorblind alternate history of 1813 presented in Bridgerton. The scripts are written with modern language, and the show had to feel modern but keep true to the Regency-era romantic beauty. He found it very exciting to shoot in England, where the streets and historic houses needed very little alteration to fit the time period, especially around Bath. Jeff’s inspirations for the vibrant, colorful look of Bridgerton included Pride and Prejudice and Stanley Kubrick’s historic movie Barry Lyndon. In fact, one of the locations Bridgerton used, Wilton House, was also used in Barry Lyndon. Much of Bridgerton was lit by candles, natural light, and balloon lights. It was necessary to shoot in historic buildings without touching the ceiling or moving the furniture. Fortunately, the UK crew was used to shooting in many of the locations and knew how to manage the restrictions.

In the mid-1980’s, Jeff had just moved to L.A. from Chicago, getting by shooting shorts and a few dramatic films, when one of the producers for Dirty Dancing saw his work on American Playhouse and hired him as the cinematographer. Jeff had no idea that 1987’s Dirty Dancing would become his big break, and he’s honored to have been a part of something that has become so iconic. It was shot on a very low budget and no one had very high expectations for how successful Dirty Dancing would become. Dance films such as Flashdance and Footloose had done well, but everyone involved in Dirty Dancing wanted the dancing in the movie to be authentic, performed by the actors, not with professional dance doubles, as the audience follows the main character’s journey as she learns how to dance.

Soon after Dirty Dancing, Jeff shot The Big Picture, Christopher Guest’s directorial debut. The Big Picture was a huge flop, but it ended up having a following once it reached home video. The story follows Nick Chapman, a recent film school grad whose short film wins an award- but breaking into Hollywood is not that easy. Jeff loved the film because the plot really spoke to him. Growing up in Chicago, he always had a passion for filmmaking and while in high school, his film won him a scholarship to Columbia Film School. The Big Picture includes many short films, fantasy sequences and student films within the movie which were great fun to shoot.

Jeff switched gears creatively to shoot The Last Seduction, an indie film from the 1990’s that was an homage and reinvention of film noir directed by John Dahl. He went on to shoot romantic comedies How Stella Got Her Groove Back and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which is still the highest grossing romantic comedy in U.S. history.

Jeff began shooting television on the HBO series, Carnivale and he’s found working in TV to be very rewarding. The mid-budget features Jeff used to work on have disappeared, and many of the directors he’s worked with have moved into television, like John Dahl, who brought him on to shoot the Showtime series, Dexter. Jeff thinks the writing for television has gotten incredible, and the storytelling and creative risk-taking is more prevalent in television today than in features.

You can find Jeff Jur on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.jur
Instagram: @jeffjurasc

Jeff is currently shooting season 2 of Bridgerton.

You can watch Bridgerton streaming on Netflix

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep128/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQIhe3yjQJG72EjZJBRI1w
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

June 2, 2021

Jess Hall, ASC, BSC: Marvel’s WandaVision, Hot Fuzz, working with Edgar Wright, Wally Pfister and more

For the Disney+ series WandaVision, cinematographer Jess Hall had the opportunity to create the most avant-garde looking project in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jess explored every era of sitcom television to create seven different looks for WandaVision, ranging from the 1950’s all the way through the 2000’s. Each episode’s look came down to researching the film stock, lenses, aspect ratio, the lighting, and whether it was shot with three cameras or a single camera. WandaVision director Matt Shakman was able to give Jess plenty of sitcom television research material and ideas, since Jess did not grow up around American T.V. One of the biggest visual touchstones for Jess for the earliest episodes of WandaVision was viewing a print from the original negative of the 1960’s show, Bewitched. He found the black and white image to look warmer than modern day black and white- the contrast in the whites weren’t quite as cold. Jess tested a number of vintage lenses and ended up using 47 different lenses over nine episodes, even having Panavision create a set of lenses reconstructed from older lens elements. He also used lighting technology that fit each time period, including early diffusion techniques over the lights to create the look.

Jess grew up in England and studied film at St. Martins School of Art, embracing film more as an expressive art form. After graduating, he began shooting shorts and commercials, and then had the opportunity to shoot his first feature film, Stander, with director Bronwen Hughes. Stander is a biopic about a police officer in apartheid South Africa who becomes a bank robber. Jess’ next film was Son of Rambow, a coming-of-age story about two boys making a home movie. Jess and Son of Rambow director Garth Jennings went to St. Martins together. Jennings carefully storyboarded the whole movie, but once they were actually shooting, they did not strictly follow the storyboards. Jess credits director Edgar Wright with being the most accurate storyboard-to-execution director he’s ever worked with, which is important because Wright likes to work fast with many setups and quick cuts. On the movie Hot Fuzz, Jess accomplished over 30 setups per day, and famously did 50 setups in one day. He would try to light the room simply, and worked with camera operators who were used to shooting fast action movies. For the film Transcendence, cinematographer turned director Wally Pfister asked Jess to shoot his first film as a director, after seeing Jess’ work on Brideshead Revisited. Jess was flattered, and found it wonderful to be able to communicate in a technical shorthand and to see up close how another DP works and thinks.

Find Jess Hall: http://www.jesshalldop.com/
Instagram @metrorat

You can watch WandaVision streaming on Disney+

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep126/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQIhe3yjQJG72EjZJBRI1w
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

September 8, 2020

Mandy Walker, ASC, ACS on Mulan, Hidden Figures, Australia, Tracks, Shattered Glass, working with directors Niki Caro and Baz Luhrmann

Mandy Walker believes that her job as a cinematographer is not just to make pretty pictures, but to enhance an emotion with lenses, camera placement and lighting. She works on a gut and emotional level for films, getting across the feelings of the characters- a DP’s arsenal of tricks should only help convey what’s going on in the scene. For Mulan, Mandy and director Nikki Caro wanted to take a different approach from the Disney animated version, and were free to interpret the film as they wished. Mandy watched several Chinese action films such as House of Flying Daggers and went on location scouting trips to China to find the look and inspiration for the film. Mandy grew up in Australia and always loved photography, film and art, so she felt a passion to become a cinematographer right from the beginning. She skipped film school and began as a production assistant and loader in Australia, learning as she went on films such as Lantana, which was shot using almost only available light. Shattered Glass, which tells the true story of a journalist who made up the majority of his articles, was her first American film. Working with Baz Luhrmann on Australia was a huge jump into bigger budget movies, and she learned how to organize and delegate an entire camera department with multiple cameras. For the film Hidden Figures, Mandy worked closely with the costume designer and makeup artists to ensure that how the characters were dressed and what they looked like matched the feel of what each scene is meant to convey. She watched a lot of archival footage from NASA, some of which was used in the film, and was thrilled to meet Katherine Johnson, one of the real-life subjects of the film.

Mandy Walker is currently working with director Baz Luhrmann again on a forthcoming biography film about Elvis Presley.

See Mulan on Disney Plus

Find Mandy Walker: https://www.mandywalkerdp.com/
Instagram: @mandywalkerdp

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep90/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

WIN a Sony A7SIII, Gitzo tripod and $100 Hot Rod Cameras gift card! Worth over $4,000, for one lucky winner! Follow us on Instagram @thecinepod and click on the link in bio to enter by September 29, 2020.

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
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August 2, 2020

Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS on The Mandalorian, Lion, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and more

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 85: Greig Fraser

World-renowned director of photography Greig Fraser grew up in Australia, working as a still photographer before he moved into cinematography, shooting shorts, TV shows and films for several Australian directors. Greig’s most recently completed project is The Mandalorian, which recently earned him an Emmy nomination. At first, Greig felt incredibly nervous about working on the frontline development for The Mandalorian because of the massive amount of technology involved. His usual approach as a DP has been naturalistic lighting, in a real setting, rather than an entirely manufactured environment on a soundstage. The Mandalorian brought together gaming technology and set design, which could only be done with the support of ILM and Lucasfilm. The Star Wars series used 3D digital environments built with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine gaming technology that was capable of interacting with the cameras and was projected on huge LED screens for very realistic backgrounds on the soundstage. Greig was not a Star Wars newbie- prior to The Mandalorian, he was the cinematographer of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. As a fan of Star Wars, Greig felt some trepidation at first about shooting Rogue One, because he was worried about losing that passion in the day-to-day while on set. Greig met with Rogue One director Gareth Edwards and loved his early film Monsters, so he was convinced to take the job. Grieg also discusses his work on the 2016 film, Lion, for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography. Greig was extremely excited to shoot Lion- he and fellow Australian director Garth Davis had worked together a number of times. As a photographer, Greig had traveled and shot in India, and he loved being able to return to India and Melbourne to shoot such a great story. For Lion, Greig and Garth Davis wanted to be very respectful of Indian culture, and be careful of their choices not to oversensationalize images of poverty. Greig shot many of the railway scenes in the film at the level of a small child to capture the character Saroo’s feelings of loss and helplessness.

Grieg Fraser is the cinematographer of two hugely anticipated films coming soon: Dune with director Denis Villeneuve and The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves.

Find Greig Fraser: Instagram @greigfraser_dp

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep85/

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