August 30, 2020

Jas Shelton, Emmy-nominated cinematographer on Homecoming Season 2, working with the Duplass brothers, Keanu with Key and Peele, The Stanford Prison Experiment

Jas Shelton’s career has spanned nearly every genre, from comedy to horror and suspense. Jas grew up in East Texas and attended the University of Texas in Austin. He had difficulty getting into the film program, so he started shooting music videos for bands, then began shooting student films. Austin was a hub for fairly large films at the time, where Jas found work as a gaffer or on second unit, including Miss Congeniality, Varsity Blues, and The Ladykillers. When he and director Kyle Alvarez began planning for the second season of Homecoming on Amazon, they chose to use a different color palette from season one, with darker, moodier looks for the flashback sequences vs. the present day. They were influenced by the look of 70’s movies and Brian DePalma films, with slow push-in zooms on the characters, several split-screen sequences and off-center framing. Jas shot all seven episodes of the series, and has received an Emmy nomination for his work. Jas had also worked with Kyle Alvarez on The Stanford Prison Experiment, which was another challenging project since most of it was shot on a white laboratory set, but careful use of close-ups and shadow helped bring more depth to the film. Jas’s tight camerawork and careful planning for Homecoming was a much different approach from Jas’s previous work with the Duplass brothers on the series Togetherness, The Do-Deca-Pentathalon and Cyrus. Mark and Jay Duplass favor a rough, homemade, documentary style, with lots of improvisation, so scenes often began with close ups on long lenses, with wider shots at the end. For the film Keanu, Jas’s experience with more improvisational filmmaking was useful, since Jordan Peele would often rewrite scenes right before shooting.

See Homecoming season 2 on Amazon Prime

Find Jas Shelton: https://www.jasshelton.com/
Instagram: @jasshelton

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep89/

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

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

July 19, 2020

Alex Winter on his HBO documentary Showbiz Kids, experience as a child actor, moving from acting to directing, The Lost Boys, The Idiot Box, Freaked, Bill & Ted Face the Music, Zappa, and more

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 84: Alex Winter

Many people know Alex Winter as the iconic character Bill S. Preston, Esq. from the hit Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its sequels, but over the past few decades, Alex has become a prolific director of several TV, film and documentary projects. Alex was a child actor, with roles on Broadway, film and television, shooting his own projects on a wind-up 16 mm Bolex camera in his spare time. As a young actor, he followed cinematographer Michael Chapman (Jaws, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver) around on the set of The Lost Boys whenever he had downtime. After graduating from NYU film school, Alex and creative partners Tom Stern and Tim Burns created The Idiot Box, a sketch comedy show for MTV. They had creative control but not much money, so Alex, Stern and Burns moved on, making their own comedic film, Freaked, which has become a cult favorite. Alex went on to shoot and direct several music videos for bands like The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Helmet. For his most recent documentary film, Showbiz Kids, Alex found his personal experience and sensitivity as a fellow child actor immensely helpful for interviewing his subjects. The film profiles actors Evan Rachel Wood, Wil Wheaton, Henry Thomas, Mara Wilson, Todd Bridges, Milla Jovovich, Jada Pinkett Smith, the late Cameron Boyce and Diana Serra Cary (“Baby Peggy”) who tell their own stories and Hollywood experiences, bad and good, of growing up as child actors. The doc also follows two aspiring child stars as they try to break into the business or further their careers. For his upcoming documentary Zappa, Alex wanted to tell the definitive story of Frank Zappa’s life and work. With the cooperation of the Zappa family, he had unprecedented access to Frank Zappa’s home movies and recordings. Alex will also be seen acting once again as Bill with buddy Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted Face The Music, as soon as a release date is set.

Find Alex Winter: http://alexwinter.com/
Instagram: @alxwinter
Twitter: @Winter
See Showbiz Kids on HBO: https://www.hbo.com/documentaries/showbiz-kids
Zappa, coming soon: http://www.zappamovie.com/about

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep84/

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

July 12, 2020

Jody Lee Lipes on shooting the HBO series I Know This Much Is True, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, Girls, Tiny Furniture, Martha Marcy May Marlene and more

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 83: Jody Lee Lipes

Cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes has always enjoyed working on diverse projects with intimate stories. Shortly after film school, Jody collaborated with actor/director Lena Dunham on her first film, “Tiny Furniture,” which led to Jody’s shooting the HBO series, “Girls.” He also shot the acclaimed indie thriller, “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” directed by Sean Durkin, about a woman who escapes a cult and grows increasingly paranoid. Larger projects soon followed, including Academy Award nominated films, “Manchester by the Sea” and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” with director Marielle Heller. When Heller asked Jody to be the director of photography for her film about a journalist writing a profile piece on Mr. Rogers, he was extremely moved by the script and it gave him a renewed passion for his craft. Jody’s most recent project, the HBO series, “I Know This Much is True,” is the story of Dominick, who is struggling with caring for his mentally ill twin brother, Thomas. Mark Ruffalo plays both twins, one of whom is much heavier than the other. Jody had to first shoot the “A” side of Dominick, then the B side of his brother Thomas several weeks later after Mark Ruffalo had gained weight. Director Derek Cianfrance decided he did not want to rely very much on special effects, and they discovered that often, a single two-shot of the “twins” would sell the idea that there were two people in the room. Shooting “I Know This Much is True” proved challenging in other ways as well. It was shot on film, with extreme closeups on long lenses, and controlling the light was key so that it would match each shot.

Find Jody Lee Lipes: https://www.jodyleelipes.com/
Instagram: @jody_lee_lipes

See I Know This Much is True currently on HBO:https://www.hbo.com/i-know-this-much-is-true

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep83/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

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

June 24, 2020

Xavier Grobet, ASC on HBO’s Watchmen, going to film school with Mexican filmmakers Rodrigo Prieto and Alfonso Cuarón, early experience on films Total Recall, Revenge, Before Night Falls

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 80: Xavier Grobet

Mexican-born DP Xavier Grobet grew up surrounded by visual images. His mother was a professional photographer, and from an early age, Xavier made his own Super 8 movies every summer with his cousins and family members. He started out going to architecture school, but soon decided his passion was film. Xavier’s generation of fellow Mexican filmmakers, “Chivo” Emmanuel Lubezki, Rodrigo Prieto, and Alfonso Cuarón were also attending film school at one of the two main colleges in Mexico City. One of Xavier’s early experiences was operating the third camera on a French film, Les Pyramides Bleues, with Alfonso Cuarón as the assistant director. Many American productions were shooting in Mexico at the time, so Xavier was able to work on huge movies like Tony Scott’s Revenge and Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Once he moved to America, it took awhile to get established again, but he got a big break shooting the Julian Schnabel film Before Night Falls and the series Deadwood. Xavier Grobet’s most recent work has been on HBO’s phenomenal series Watchmen, on episodes three, five, and seven. Going into the world of Watchmen proved to be a huge challenge, because each episode works as its own separate piece, but required a familiarity with the script for the entire series to ensure the consistency and look of the story. He always found ways to shoot from different angles, and used blue lighting selectively to suggest and reveal Dr. Manhattan. It was daunting working within the framework of the show’s look and following its guidelines, but Xavier embraced it and made it his.

See Watchmen on HBO: https://www.hbo.com/watchmen

Find Xavier Grobet: http://xmexdp.com/ Instagram: @xmexdp

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep80/

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

May 4, 2020

BONUS Episode: Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind director/producers Natasha Gregson Wagner and Laurent Bouzereau

Illya sat down with producer Natasha Gregson Wagner and director/producer Laurent Bouzereau at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival to talk about their documentary, Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind. As the daughter of famous actress Natalie Wood, Natasha Gregson Wagner wanted to tell the story of her mother’s life, while working through her grief and loss over her mother’s tragic death at the age of 43 in 1981. Natasha and Laurent discuss their approach to the film, which is full of personal photos, home movies, and interviews with friends and family. It was important for the filmmakers to celebrate Natalie Wood’s life and work, and the documentary is an intimate look at her through the people who knew her best.

You can see Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind right now on HBO. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JRzLBVxWik

Natasha Gregson Wagner: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0906031/
Find Laurent Bouzereau: https://www.nedlandmedia.com/
@laurent_bouzereau

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

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

April 26, 2020

War Stories Vol. 1: Tales from the Set featuring Russell Carpenter, Jakob Ihre, Ellen Kuras, David Mullen and Kira Kelly

Special: The Cinematography Podcast War Stories Vol. 1

It’s our first War Stories Special! Each of our featured guests shares an insightful, interesting, humorous or crazy story of an experience they had while on set.

Russell Carpenter talks about shooting the iconic “I’m flying” scene from Titanic, Jakob Ihre tells the sobering story about working in Lithuania while shooting HBO’s “Chernobyl,” Ellen Kuras shares a funny story from the set of The Mod Squad, David Mullen on avoiding a landslide while scouting for Big Sur, and Kira Kelly tells about how she endured a particularly difficult work experience.

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!

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/warstories1/

COMING SOON! War Stories Vol. 2.

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

March 10, 2020

Jakob Ihre, FSF: Chernobyl cinematographer on shooting the incredible HBO series, his early career, working with director Joachim Trier

Jakob Ihre believes that making movies is very personal, and it’s important to create a connection to the material that the audience can feel. He graduated from the National Film and Television School in London knowing that he wanted to do smaller, quality projects that told personal stories. Jakob collaborated with fellow NFTS graduate Joachim Trier on several films, including Reprise, Louder Than Bombs, Oslo, August 31 and Thelma. The 2015 film, The End of the Tour, about writer David Foster Wallace, marked the Swedish cinematographer’s first English language movie.

The HBO TV series Chernobyl came to Jakob through the series’ director, Johan Renck. The two were friends but had not had the chance to work together. Writer and creator Craig Mazin had a completed 600-page script, and once Jakob read it, he knew he had to work on the project. The story was so gripping and mesmerizing, everyone involved felt a calling to tell the story in a way that was solemn about the material and accurate about what it looked like. Chernobyl shot for eight months in Lithuania and Ukraine and has won multiple awards.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep66/

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February 10, 2020

McMillion$: Filmmakers James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte on their new six-part HBO doc series uncovering fraud behind the McDonald’s Monopoly game

McDonald’s Monopoly Game ran from 1989-2001, netting $24 million in cash and prizes for the winners. But the biggest prize “winners” were actually all part of a crime ring recruited by a mysterious figure called “Uncle Jerry” to cheat the game. Filmmakers James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte got the FBI on board along with a cast of quirky real characters to tell a fun, engaging and fascinating story about the fraud.

McMillion$ is a six-part documentary series currently airing on HBO. You can also listen to The McMillion$ Podcast each week.

James Lee Hernandez: @iamthejlh

Brian Lazarte: @blazarte

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Website: www.camnoir.com
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