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+.

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July 27, 2020

War Stories Vol. 3: Tales from the Set featuring Laura Merians Gonçalves, Seamus McGarvey, Charles Papert, Charlotte Bruus Christensen, Mike Dallatorre, James Laxton, Jaron Presant, Don Morgan, Roman Vas’yanov, Benoît Delhomme, and Thorsten Thielow

Special: The Cinematography Podcast- War Stories Vol. 3

In this super-sized War Stories Special, we feature eleven of our guest’s harrowing, hilarious or heartwarming stories of an experience they had while on set or when starting out in the film industry. Find full interviews with each of our featured cinematographers in our archives at or wherever you get your podcasts.

Cinematographer Laura Merians Gonçalves tells of a scary experience while shooting Pacified in the gritty favelas of Brazil, Seamus McGarvey on his first time using a Super 8 movie camera in film school, Charles Papert talks about working with Eddie Izzard on a grueling TV pilot, Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s story of shooting The Hunt with director Thomas Vinterberg almost entirely handheld while pregnant, Mike Dallatorre on dealing with the Mexican federales while working on Quantum of Solace, James Laxton’s early experience as a loader for an Errol Morris-directed commercial, Jaron Presant tells a funny story about making a huge error as a set PA, Don Morgan on getting hired because of a mistaken film credit, Roman Vas’yanov tells about his entirely too-real experience while shooting in the hood for End of Watch, Benoît Delhomme talks about crew issues while shooting The Proposition in the Australian outback, and documentary filmmaker Thorsten Thielow’s experience of shooting during an actual war.

Do you have a War Story you’d like to share? Send us an email or reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

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September 2, 2019

Director and Cinematographer Ellen Kuras, ASC: Talks Swoon, I Shot Andy Warhol, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Summer of Sam, Ozark, Wormwood, Catch-22 and more

Ellen Kuras believes that following your gut and listening to your inner voice makes you a great filmmaker. Ellen got her start shooting documentary and indy movies such as “Swoon,” “I Shot Andy Warhol” and “Personal Velocity,” plus several films with Spike Lee including “Bamboozled” and “Summer of Sam.” She discusses working with Michel Gondry, the unique challenges of shooting “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” working with documentarian Errol Morris on “Wormwood” and shooting the Netflix series “Ozark.” Ellen also directed and shot her documentary “The Betrayal-Nerakhoon,” which received an Academy Award nomination. Her current work includes directing some episodes of Hulu’s “Catch-22” and directing the Netflix series “Umbrella Academy.”