May 30, 2024

VFX pioneer Scott Ross, founder of Digital Domain

As a pioneer in digital visual effects, Scott Ross was instrumental in the advancement of VFX in Hollywood. He led groundbreaking work at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and co-founded Digital Domain with James Cameron and Stan Winston. Scott looks back on his career, discusses systemic problems within the VFX industry, and possible ways to fix them.

Scott began his career in sound recording for television and film in the San Francisco Bay Area for a video production company, becoming president of the San Francisco office. The success of Star Wars ignited a space race for studios, and ILM became the holy grail for VFX artists. “I get a phone call from a headhunter who says, ‘Hey, Lucasfilm is looking for somebody to head up production operations at Industrial Light and Magic.’ And my head exploded,” says Scott. “If you’re going to live in San Francisco, you want to work at Lucasfilm. That’s how I got hired.” At the time, ILM was creating visual effects for Who Framed Roger Rabbit. His experience in the nascent digital video industry sped up the process, and by 1989, ILM developed a technique to work in a digital medium for making special effects. While Scott was at ILM, the company won five Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects.

However, ILM’s creative spirit began to wane under corporate pressure. “It turned into cubicles and whatnot,” says Ross, favoring a “work hard, play hard” environment. This philosophy fueled his decision to leave and co-found Digital Domain in 1993. “When I started Digital Domain, we’re going to play hard, work hard and party hard. And that’s the culture that I wanted to create. I think generally we did a pretty good job of it.” Digital Domain became a leading VFX company, creating visual effects for films such as Cameron’s Titanic.

The VFX industry is notoriously troubled, with visual effects houses underbidding on projects to stay competitive and creating dismal working conditions for employees. “There are certain companies that the only way that they could stay alive is by taking advantage of their employees, not paying them overtime, not having health care,” says Scott. “That really comes as a result of the way the clients, studios and the directors deal with the visual effects companies.” He blames a producer mentality that prioritizes squeezing VFX houses rather than fostering a sustainable industry. “The visual effects industry workers need advocates for themselves. Currently, they have no one fighting for them. They need an international trade association that changes the business model.” Today, effects workers continue to voice their need to form a union. The rise of AI further complicates the picture, with some fearing job replacement.

Find Scott Ross: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottross/
Instagram: @scott_ross

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The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

April 19, 2024

Amy Vincent ASC on A Nice Indian Boy, Hustle & Flow, Eve’s Bayou

Amy Vincent, ASC did not originally set out to become a cinematographer. While studying veterinary medicine at UC Santa Cruz, she got a work study job hanging lights for the theater department. She fell in love with the creative art of lighting, and soon transitioned to the theater arts department. Amy found her natural affinity for math and science matched the skill set needed for technical theater production. She began making short films at UCSC, moving to Los Angeles after college to pursue a career in film. Amy’s first job was as an assistant editor, but she really wanted to work in the camera department. So she began working her way up from camera intern to camera assistant, working with notable DPs such as Bill Pope on Clueless and Robert Richardson on Natural Born Killers.

A few years into her career as a camera assistant, Amy decided to go to grad school at AFI. She shot many student short films for free before meeting writer and director Kasi Lemmons. Amy could tell from page one that the script for Eve’s Bayou was something personal and special. They made the short film together, then over the course of three years, Lemmons raised enough money and interest to turn Eve’s Bayou into a feature. It was Amy’s first movie as a cinematographer and it became her first big breakout.

One of Amy’s frequent collaborators was director Craig Brewer. She was given a copy of his first film on VHS, then the two met to discuss making 2005’s Hustle & Flow. “I think the beauty of where my collaboration with Craig and the process of making the movie was what the movie was about. The two folded over on each other. I mean, it’s the idea of making music or making a movie by whatever means necessary. And there was something that became so apparent in the process. For example, we tried on a whole bunch of different formats, like, what are we going to shoot? At one point we were going to shoot Mini DV, because that’s what Craig knew and then we settled into Super 16.” She and Brewer went on to work together on Black Snake Moan and the 2011 Footloose remake.

Throughout her career, Amy has enjoyed collaborating with directors on smaller movies. Her most recent project, A Nice Indian Boy, had a very low budget and it had to be shot quickly before the actors strike. “It is so cool to have a really funny rom com that’s gay and Indian. It would have been great to have more time and more money to make that movie, but I love all of the things that came together to make this simple little movie. It’s really important to me to be able to make a movie that means something to a slightly different community.”

Amy recently received the ASC Presidents Award, which recognizes her long career as a cinematographer and a mentor to new cinematographers. She’s also an artist in residence at Loyola Marymount University, where she teaches film classes and mentors students making short films.

You can see Amy’s recent work on the show Parish with Giancarlo Esposito on AMC+.

A Nice Indian Boy premiered at the SXSW Film Festival to critical acclaim, and is seeking distribution.

Find Amy Vincent: https://www.amyvincentasc.com/
Instagram: @amyvvincent

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The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
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March 28, 2024

Dynamics of a Working Camera Department with Greg Irwin, SOC

Gregory Irwin is an extremely experienced A Camera First AC who first got into the business 44 years ago. He received a 2016 Society of Camera Operators Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions as Camera Technician. His most recent project is the Joker sequel Joker: Folie à Deux coming soon.

Greg frequently gives talks on the importance of character and credibility in the camera department. The camera department is in a leadership role on any production. There’s always going to be challenges on set, but it’s important to remember that if the camera department seems like they’re panicking, it affects the rest of the production. A good camera department is always helpful, no matter what department needs it. Never be rude or show panic, even when things aren’t going to plan. Greg says, “I want my team to know everything at all times, and I want them to be better than me. If I can develop a young camera person into a rock solid, good human being as well as a good camera technician then I’ve done my job.”

Greg discusses:

Character and credibility in the camera department-remembering you are in a leadership role
Taking a business approach to the camera department
Interacting with the director, cinematographer, producers and showrunners
How to hire others in the camera department- be sure to vet your camera crew before hiring them
Be a “one minute manager”- choose people you don’t have to micromanage
Handling the first phone calls with the filmmakers and producers: save talk about rates, money, deals until about the 4th phone call so you can get to know the person who you’re negotiating with
Generally talk rates/business aspects for your camera team as well
Prep for the camera prep day: prep should already be done ahead, including what you need for your camera package
Prep and budget: build everything you need for prep based on meetings with the filmmakers & DP, timestamp prep lists to keep track of everything. By draft 10, you should be clear on what’s needed and camera budget should be very clear at that point
Look the part- better to dress like a professional
Be organized and don’t have a sense of entitlement
How to get noticed and move up in the camera department

Find Greg Irwin: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0410389/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

February 26, 2024

Bonus Episode: To Kill a Tiger director Nisha Pahuja and editor Mike Munn

In this bonus episode of The Cinematography Podcast, we interview director Nisha Pahuja and editor Mike Munn about the documentary To Kill a Tiger. The film is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

**A warning that this episode discusses sexual assault and violence, so please take care.**

To Kill a Tiger is the story of Ranjit, a farmer in Jharkhand, India whose 13 year old daughter is raped by three men from her village. Ranjit is determined to get justice for his daughter through the legal system. In India, men rarely stand up for their daughters and conviction rates for rape are less than 30 percent. It’s common practice in the village for a girl to be married off to her abuser instead. Rangit and his family faced down threats of violence and ostracism by the townspeople.

Director Nisha Pahuja was originally making a documentary studying Indian masculinity when she met Ranjit and his daughter. She followed their story for about 18 months, thinking they would only be one part of the story. Only in the editing process did the story start to take shape. It became clear that Ranjit and his daughter Kiran were the strongest characters. Nisha admired Ranjit’s courage and love for his daughter. “I just think Ranjit is the kind of person who has this idea of doing the right thing inside of him. He’s just a very ethical, thoughtful person.” Because Kiran was only 13 at the time, Nisha had to be careful about revealing her identity. By the time the film was finished, Kiran was 18, and gave permission to show her face. Nisha says, “She said it was because she couldn’t believe how courageous she was when she was watching herself, she couldn’t believe her own courage and her own bravery. And she wanted to celebrate that.”

Nisha’s husband Mrinal Desai was the primary cinematographer on To Kill a Tiger, and they lived together in India while making the documentary. Nisha finds that he has a very quiet and gentle way with the people they film. She, Mrinal and their sound recordist Anita Kushwaha have worked together for a long time and are able to create an atmosphere of intimacy and trust.

Editor Mike Munn spent about 8 months working on the film before he decided that they had to distill it down to the best story. “We were wrestling a lot because we had, in fact, two different films. So Ranjit’s story was so specific and so well drawn out that it needed its own place. So, we jettisoned all of that work that we’d done.” Mike started expanding Ranjit’s story and discovered that this version of the film has a clear narrative arc with interesting characters. Fortunately, the raw footage came back from India with a basic transcription and subtitles that could be polished during the edit with the help of a translator. Mike says, “My favorite part overall was working with the observational and verite nature of the film. It was so intimate and real and we’re all creating scenes out of real emotion. This was a film where the narrative was all happening within real scenes with the family. That was challenging, but rewarding in just the truthfulness of it.”

To Kill a Tiger is in select theaters. https://tokillatigerfilm.com/

Find Nisha Pahuja: http://www.noticepicturesinc.com/
Instagram @nishappics

Find Mike Munn: https://mikemunneditor.com/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

February 21, 2024

Maestro cinematographer Matty Libatique, ASC

We have the multi-talented Kays Al-Atrakchi as our special guest host this week!

Shortly after working together on A Star Is Born, director and actor Bradley Cooper told cinematographer Matty Libatique that he’d like their next project to be about conductor Leonard Bernstein. Cooper hadn’t even begun writing the screenplay for Maestro yet, but over the next six years, he and Matty discussed how to evolve the story and shoot the biopic. They spent a lot of time shooting tests in multiple formats. Matty and Cooper decided to shoot on Kodak film, using both black and white and color, and two different aspect ratios (1.33:1 and 1.85:1) for the story. The film takes place over 50 years, and it was important to test the aging makeup and prosthetics Cooper would wear as Bernstein.

Maestro was a complex story to tell, and Cooper wanted to explore Bernstein’s life in as many visually creative ways as possible. Every shot was thought out, including all the montages that deal with the passage of time. For several scenes, much of what Cooper had described on the page was what ended up on screen. “It’s one of those rare cases where the the writing really matched up with what we ended up doing, very early on. There were subsequent drafts, but those moments that he had crafted ahead of time never went away,” says Matty. In order to keep himself organized, Matty created a spreadsheet that mapped out all the shots and equipment for every beat and scene in the script, which could also be altered if Cooper made changes.

At the heart of Maestro is the complicated relationship between Leonard Bernstein and his wife Felicia Montealegre. Cooper frequently used the motif of Montealegre waiting in the wings for Bernstein, as she put everything in her life on hold to be with him. Their love grounds the story, and Matty wanted it to look as naturalistic as possible. “Instead of going for the glam, even though it might feel like an old movie at the beginning of the film, I was trying to keep it more candid… I think Bradley and I gravitate towards naturalism because we don’t want anything that smells false or pretentious. It’s just something to stay away from. Bradley has a real sensitivity to it.”

Cooper’s approach as a director is extremely artistic and sensitive to the emotions in the scene, and he doesn’t use a conventional shot list or get traditional coverage. If the scene feels wrong after they’ve shot it, he and Matty will mull it over and then come up with a better way to shoot it. “Bradley is so editorially minded, he keeps in mind whether or not we’re going to end a scene in a wide or start in a wide or ended in tight or start in a tight. So those are conscious decisions, but they aren’t necessarily made ahead of time. We respond to the space and we respond to the light. And then we just react and it’s organic, it’s his process.”

Maestro is available on Netflix. https://www.netflix.com/title/81171868

Matty Libatique is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

Find Matty Libatique: Instagram @libatique
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The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

February 17, 2024

Bonus Episode: Bobi Wine: The People’s President directors Moses Bwayo and Christopher Sharp

In this bonus episode of The Cinematography Podcast, we interview Moses Bwayo and Christopher Sharp, who collaborated as directors on Bobi Wine: The People’s President. The film is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Co-director and producer Christopher Sharp grew up in Uganda and was a fan of Bobi Wine’s music. He met Bobi and his wife Barbie in London. Christoper says, “When I met him, he’d just run to be an independent member of parliament and he was sort of transitioning from being solely a musician into an activist and a politician. When he told me what he was about to sacrifice, it seemed pretty obvious that we needed to stick with him and see where it went.”

Bobi Wine (Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu) had grown up in the slums of Kampala, Uganda and through his musical talent, had risen to become an extremely popular and famous Afrobeat musician. Bobi’s music often communicates a socially conscious message aimed at political change. He put himself through university, where he met his wife Barbie. Political activism was extremely important to him, so Bobi successfully ran as an independent candidate for Uganda’s parliament. He then decided to run for president against the dictator Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for 38 years.

Christopher brought the idea of making the documentary to Moses Bwayo, a Ugandan journalist and filmmaker. Moses followed Bobi with cameras for five years, sometimes with a small crew, using a monopod and available light. Moses used the Sony FS7 and the smaller Sony Alpha a7 III. He often had to just run and gun, serving as both cameraman and director, documenting the tense and frequently dangerous situations Bobi, his family and Moses himself encountered. “We wanted to tell a story of this young, talented musician who comes out of the ghetto to inspire the nation, and he rises into politics and the coalitions he was building in parliament and the bills he was trying to bring. But, as we kept filming, it was very dangerous for him and there was a few attempted assassinations on him. More and more we realized the camera was actually a protection to him… So we just kept on going and going.”

Uganda has been under the control of Yoweri Museveni since 1986. Museveni uses the might of the military police and his political operatives in Parliament to stay in power. When Bobi announced he was going to run for president against Museveni, the military police stepped up their aggressive attacks on him, his family and his campaign workers. “We knew that the closer we stuck with him and his wife and people close to him, it would bring some level of protection, and indeed, even the days I spent under house arrest with Bobby and Barbie, what worried us was that the military and police would break into the house at any moment. But I think what stopped them is when they knew that there was a cameraman in that house- it probably stopped them from breaking into the house.”

Moses and the crew risked their lives to make the film. “I was arrested a few times. I was locked up in jail. I was interrogated, and I was shot in the face close to the election.” Fortunately, Moses recovered from his gunshot wound and the documentary continued. The political situation in Uganda had become very violent, so before they released the film, Moses and his family decided to flee and are seeking asylum in the United States. Though Museveni won election again through terrifying attacks and imprisonment of Bobi and his supporters, Bobi still goes back to Uganda and continues to risk his life to speak out against the government. “This story is still happening today. It’s urgent. Christopher and I, we’ve been thinking maybe we should find a way to start filming again because the situation has not improved, and we have this incredible access, we have this story still happening right now. And the camera had become like a protection to them and now we feel like we’re indebted to this struggle. We need to do something.”

Bobi Wine: The People’s President is available on Disney+ under the National Geographic tab, or free on YouTube.

Find Moses Bwayo on Instagram and X: @bwayomoses

Find Christopher Sharp: Instagram @christophersharp

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The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

January 4, 2024

Ferrari cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, ASC

With the film Ferrari, cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, ASC has now had the opportunity to work with two huge directors: Michael Mann and David Fincher. In 2021, Erik won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for Mank, directed by Fincher. He finds Fincher to be very methodical and precise about film structure and camera placement. Michael Mann tends to be more spontaneous, interested in capturing visceral moments, but still detail oriented. He is hyperfocused on the emotional response of the audience and how best to capture the character’s interactions. “That is the joy of being a cinematographer, coming and playing in someone else’s sandbox and learning how you can contribute to making their film,” Erik says.

Ferrari was a passion project for director Michael Mann, who had been developing the film for decades. Once he was hired to work on Ferrari, Erik saw that Mann had tons of material on Enzo Ferrari. He had an incredible collection of photos, newsreel footage, and personal letters that provided a great start to shaping the film. Mann knew exactly what he wanted to make and it came down to the two of them discussing the film’s look, pacing, and structure. The entire film was shot in 58 days with no second unit. They filmed on location in Italy, which was a huge contributor to the aesthetic of the movie and lent it authenticity. Most of the locations were historically accurate to Enzo Ferrari’s story- they shot exteriors of the Ferrari home, his barber shop, and even inside the Ferrari mausoleum. Adding classic Ferraris and other vehicles from 1957 with people in period costume made it easy to make the movie feel of its time without needing to add more.

The dramatic scenes in Ferrari had to be differentiated from the racing scenes. While all of the racing scenes were meticulously planned and storyboarded, the dramatic scenes such as a fight between Adam Driver & Penelope Cruz’s characters was rehearsed, blocked and planned on the day. Erik chose to use more structured, classically composed framing, with subtle zoom moves in on the actor’s faces for a nuanced emotional response. By contrast, the racing scenes had to be kinetic and visceral. Mann wanted the audience to feel like they are right there in the car, and all of the racing scenes take place in real cars on Italian roads. The camera operators sat in the car with the professional drivers, shooting handheld right next to them. As an amateur race car driver, actor Patrick Dempsey actually did all of his own driving in the film. Each Ferrari was actually a replica, and safety gear like roll cages and harnesses were added. Erik also used older camera mounts on the outside of the cars to capture every shake and bump, since the suspension on cars from that time period were much stiffer.

Find Erik Messerschmidt: Instagram @emesserschmidt

Listen to our previous interview from 2020 with Erik Messerschmidt on Mank and his other work. https://www.camnoir.com/ep107/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

December 27, 2023

House of the Dragon cinematographer Catherine Goldschmidt, BSC

Cinematographer Catherine Goldschmidt was thrilled to be the DP for House of the Dragon, episode eight, “The Lord of the Tides.” It was a huge behemoth of a production, with many cast and crew members, complex set design and costumes, as well as tons of visual effects to work with. But her hard work has paid off with an Emmy nomination for the episode.

Catherine worked with director Geeta Patel for “The Lord of the Tides.” House of the Dragon is mainly shot with two cameras, plus a third camera that floats between units. For this episode, which included an epic family dinner and dramatic throne room scenes, they used 4 cameras and lots of planning to capture all the action. Her favorite scene in “The Lord of the Tides” was when Daemon Targaryen hunts for dragon eggs, which mainly used practical effects and stunts. “The camera glides along the floor and up the mound, and you see somebody kneel down- you don’t see who they are. They’re digging, they’re digging, they’re digging, the egg comes out and then you reveal it’s Daemon, all in one shot.”

Growing up in New Jersey, Catherine tried theater and then helped make a short student film in college, which inspired her to pursue film. She soon moved to LA and began working as a camera assistant, then went to AFI for grad school. Catherine worked on the first scripted Quibi series, Dummy  starring Anna Kendrick. She was asked to shoot the series so that it could be viewed on phones in two different aspect ratios, both horizontal and vertical. It seemed like it would be overly complicated, but Catherine figured out a way to frame for a square. Both aspect ratios could be taken from that, without affecting the framing of the shots.

Catherine was cinematographer on two episodes of the upcoming House of the Dragon Season 2.

Find Catherine Goldschmidt: https://catherinegoldschmidt.com/
Instagram @cgdop

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The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
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December 20, 2023

Flamin’ Hot director Eva Longoria and cinematographer Federico Cantini

Flamin’ Hot is an entertaining biopic about Richard Montañez, a janitor at the Frito Lay chip factory who rose to become a marketing executive after (he claims) he came up with the idea for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. While Monteñez may be exaggerating his role in the invention of Flamin’ Hot, the movie is based on his real life experience as detailed in his book, “Flamin’ Hot: The Incredible True Story of One Man’s Rise from Janitor to Top Executive.” Director Eva Longoria was drawn to telling Montañez’s story for her first feature film debut. She wanted to tell a heroic, positive story about a Mexican American who worked hard to achieve the American dream, with the support of his family and community. Cinematographer Federico Cantini had previously worked with Eva on Unplugging, a small indie movie, where the two of them were the only Spanish speakers on set. Eva admired his energy, passion and collaboration with the female director. When it came time for her to choose her DP for Flamin’ Hot, Federico was Eva’s top choice.

The original script Eva received for Flamin’ Hot was a very straightforward, factual biography film, without any elements of humor. Eva knew she needed to capture the charismatic character and voice of Richard Monteñez, so she watched videos of his TED talks and other public appearances. She worked with writer Linda Yvette Chávez to rework the script during COVID. It was important to keep the film high energy and constantly push the narrative forward. “Ron Howard’s one of my mentors,” says Eva, “and his motto is something should be happening every nine to ten pages. So you should have nine to ten page sequences. It’s a page turner, you know, it’s constantly moving.” She also admires the narrative style of director Adam McKay’s films (The Big Short, Winning Time) and the way he fluidly uses montages and voiceovers to tell stories based on fact. Flamin’ Hot has 11 montages, with tons of information crammed into each shot. The movie also never strays from Montañez’s point of view. Even in scenes where he isn’t there, Eva used the comedic device of Moñtenez narrating what might have happened in certain scenes, such as at Frito Lay executive board meetings.

Once the script was complete, Federico read it and found it extremely relatable. As an immigrant himself, Flamin’ Hot was an opportunity to make his mark, much as Monteñez had. Fortunately, he and Eva had lots of pre-production prep time. They are both big planners, which was important- the shooting schedule was extremely tight, with just 30 days to shoot Flamin’ Hot on 108 sets, during COVID. The film was primarily shot in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the entire Frito Lay factory was a set. Today’s Frito Lay factories are extremely modern and automated, so they knew it would not have the right look for the 80s and early 1990s. With the set, they had lots of control over where they could shoot and what it would look like with depth and color. The set pieces such as the tumbler and conveyor belt were all on wheels, so they could easily be moved around. Coming from TV, Eva felt confident that they could accomplish all they wanted in the time that they had, and they left all their creative energy on the screen.

Federico and Eva wanted to break up Monteñez’s story into three different decades with three distinct looks to separate them. Federico used Crystal Express lenses for Montañez’s childhood, Canon K-35s for his gang banger days, and then for the 80s and 90s, Panavision Panaspeeds, but modified to look like Super Speeds from the 80s. He also used a probe lens to emphasize the size of the factory and for drama in the tasting scenes.

Eva enjoyed directing a biopic, and she looks forward to telling more stories from her community. She likes directing projects she’s also acting in, and she wants to continue to direct and produce films with purpose. Federico had a great experience working on Flamin’ Hot, and he and Eva plan to work together again soon.

You can watch Flamin’ Hot on Hulu or on Disney+.

Find Eva Longoria: Instagram @evalongoria

Find Federico Cantini: http://www.federicocantini.com/
Instagram @federicocantini

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The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

November 1, 2023

The Pigeon Tunnel cinematographer Igor Martinović

The Pigeon Tunnel is director Errol Morris’ latest documentary about David Cornwell, otherwise known as the author John le Carré, who wrote several best-selling spy novels after serving as a spy himself. Cinematographer Igor Martinović explores the nature of deception visually in the film, using multiple mirrors and reflections of Cornwell as he’s being interviewed.

For The Pigeon Tunnel, Igor wanted to create a visual story that enhances the story Cornwell tells about his life, adding another layer that the viewer might not notice right away. They used four cameras to shoot the interviews, and 12 mirrors to reflect Cornwell in different parts of the room. Igor liked the idea of a spy’s multiple personas represented by multiplying images. It was tricky to shoot with so many mirrors reflecting the cameras and lights, so for some shots, the equipment had to be erased in post. Igor also used mirrors in some b-roll shots, as Cornwell walks though the forest between the mirrors. For the re-creations dealing with Cornwell’s troubled childhood, Igor played around with some surrealist composition and kept the frame imbalanced, to represent the unstable conditions that he grew up in.

Igor has worked on several commercials, documentary features and documentary series with director Errol Morris. With his 1988 film, The Thin Blue Line, Morris changed how documentaries were made. His approach to documentary filmmaking is something he describes as “anti-verité.” Even though his films are non-fiction, Morris always approaches each one as a filmed story, using composed interviews with the subject speaking directly to the camera, and creating artful reenactments. As a cinematographer, Igor was a long admirer of Morris’ work. When shooting the documentary Man on Wire,  Igor watched The Thin Blue Line as a reference, and it inspired some scenes in the film. He’s enjoyed being able to work with Morris now.

In 2011, Igor shot a horror movie, Silent House, that was almost entirely filmed in one take. It was actually about 15 total shots, limited mainly by the amount of space they had on each memory card. He found it to be an interesting challenge, as if they were filming a dance or a play. They were able to accomplish the long takes through extensive rehearsals and improved the performances each time.

The Pigeon Tunnel is currently on Apple TV+.

Find Igor Martinovic: https://igormartinovic.com/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
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