October 27, 2021

Ruth Platt, director of Martyrs Lane on writing and directing the horror thriller

When director Ruth Platt first wrote and developed Martyrs Lane, it started off as much more of a horror film rather than a psychological thriller. She had the opportunity to develop the film into a feature from a short through BFI, the British Film Institute. In its feature form, Ruth pulled Martyrs Lane into a more unsettling ghost story that’s told from the point of view of Leah, a 10 year old girl, who lives in a large old house with her family. Her mother always seems very sad and distant, and Leah doesn’t know why, until a strange nightly visitor gives her a new clue to unlock every night.

The visual palette of Martyrs Lane has a timeless and impressionistic feel, creating an atmosphere of hovering between the conscious and unconscious world. The house Leah and her family lives in is a reflection of the interior and exterior world of the family. Ruth knew that finding the perfect “haunted house” was key, and they were lucky to have found the perfect location. With two inexperienced child actors as the leads in the movie, Ruth focused on trying to keep the lines sounding natural instead of scripted, and kept the kids energy up in between takes and setups. Because she and the crew only had a short amount of prep time for the movie, they had to creatively problem solve for a few issues and were able to do almost all the special effects in camera.

You can see Martyrs Lane on Shudder.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep145/

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The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
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August 17, 2021

Checco Varese, ASC on THEM and working in the horror genre

Our returning guest Checco Varese, ASC talks to The Cinepod about his latest work on the Amazon Prime show, THEM. As a trained architect, Checco finds some of the same techniques are useful in cinematography, such as understanding the use of space, flow, color, art and construction. Having spatial awareness as a cinematographer helps in understanding physically where the camera can go to allow it enough room during set design.

THEM is a period piece about a Black family that moves to an all-white neighborhood in 1950’s Southern California, and the terror they experience at the hands of their neighbors and a supernatural force. Checco and showrunner/creator Little Marvin discussed at length how they wanted THEM to look. Little Marvin described it as taking the classic look of a 1950’s movie with the camera language of 1970’s films like The French Connection and The Deer Hunter, using the tricks of 1990’s music videos and the technology of 2021. Checco and fellow DP Xavier Grobet traded off shooting episodes, and they both really enjoyed prepping and collaborating together. They decided to avoid the color red in the set and costume design, so that when red does appear in the show, it’s shocking and more frightening.

Checco has been the director of photography on a few horror films and series, but he is choosy about what kind of frightening subject he wants to work on, and considers what the subtext is beneath each story. Humanity has always tried to make social injustice or social advancement digestible through a medium, and the horror genre is a great way to push the envelope. Checco sees a common thread in three of the scary projects he’s shot. The Strain was about vampire creatures that take over the world, which are a metaphor for outsiders, or even immigrants. IT Chapter Two is a drama about outsiders who have to deal with their past, and THEM is about the horrors of racism, redlining and injustice.

You can watch THEM on Amazon Prime.

Checco’s latest show, Dopesick, a drama series about the opioid crisis, will be streaming on Hulu in October.

Find Checco Varese: http://www.checcovarese.com/

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep136/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
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Twitter: @ShortEndz

August 12, 2021

Special Episode: A tribute to DP Dan Kneece- on Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, Scream, and the early days of Steadicam

The Cinematography Podcast Special Episode: A tribute to cinematographer Dan Kneece

We were incredibly saddened by the loss of cinematographer and Steadicam expert Dan Kneece. He was a friend and previous guest of The Cinematography Podcast. Here we have re-posted his 2018 episode in memorial and tribute to his long career.

Dan Kneece spent nearly 3 decades as a Steadicam Operator on several David Lynch movies such as Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive. He shot the opening sequence to Wes Craven’s Scream, one of the most memorable opening sequences of any film, and worked with Quentin Tarantino on Jackie Brown. Dan began his career during the advent of the Steadicam, and he co-founded the Steadicam Guild in 2002. He moved out of operating and Steadicam work and had established himself as a DP in his own right.

Dan was one of the nicest and most genuine people you’d ever meet. His kindness and goofy sense of humor will be sorely missed.

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

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YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
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June 9, 2021

Polly Morgan ASC, BSC on shooting A Quiet Place Part II, Legion, working with John Krasinski, Ellen Kuras, Wally Pfister and more

When cinematographer Polly Morgan reads a script for the first time, she finds herself immersed in images. Her cinematography draws inspiration from art and art history and she finds visuals speak to her on a fundamental level.

For A Quiet Place Part II, Polly knew it was important to reference Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s previous work on A Quiet Place and blend it seamlessly with her own style. Each DP has their own cinematic look, and she was able to settle into her cinematographic method once the family leaves the farmhouse in the film. From the very beginning, Polly talked with director John Krasinski about making the film as immersive and subjective to the characters’ experience as possible. A Quiet Place achieved that look with Charlotte’s primarily handheld, tightly eye-level and over-the-shoulder camerawork. With A Quiet Place Part II, Polly wanted to expand the feel of the camera as the Abbot family’s world grows a bit larger. At its heart, the film is still a family drama about a mother and her children, although there’s a lot more action in Part II compared to the first movie. She included many long oners that start wide and then push into a closeup, combining a slow methodic camera with fast paced, quick cuts to create a push and pull with the viewer’s emotions to keep them on the edge of their seats. Polly and Krasinski decided to never cut away separately to the creatures or the source of the danger- they always keep the danger within the character’s frame, with no escape from what is happening, which keeps it as close and immersive as possible. She and Krasinski prepped for a few weeks in New York City to discuss the look of the film, before going to Buffalo to shoot. They talked about the movie’s rhythm, starting with a slower pace for the prologue, giving the audience a feel for the Abbot’s town and the community before the monsters arrive. Polly found the script very descriptive, providing a roadmap for the composition. Krasinski was also clear on how much coverage for each scene was needed, and they would often shoot a scene in one shot, then move on.

Polly grew up in the countryside in England and loved watching movies as a child. As a teen, a film crew used their farmhouse as basecamp, and she was fascinated to see how movies get made. She knew then that she wanted to pursue a film career. After university in England, she came to Los Angeles to attend AFI, but needed a job between semesters to afford school. Polly learned that Inception was going into production in England, found Wally Pfister’s email, and he hired her as a camera assistant on the film, which served as a great learning experience. When she was first starting out, Polly found it hard to find steady work, but she was able to work on projects in the UK and bounce back and forth until she was hired to shoot season three of Legion on FX. Polly loved the visual surrealistic storytelling of Legion, where the camera plays such an important role in creating the practical visual effects for the show. She was also pleased to have the opportunity to DP for director and cinematographer Ellen Kuras who directed an episode of Legion.

Polly is currently shooting the film, Where The Crawdads Sing.

You can watch A Quiet Place Part II currently playing in theaters.

Find Polly Morgan: https://www.pollymorgan.net/
Instagram @pollymorgan

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep127/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

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March 30, 2020

BONUS Episode: J.D. Dillard, director of Sweetheart and Sleight

The Cinematography Podcast Bonus Episode: Director J.D. Dillard

It’s another very special Shelter In Place episode as we stay home and dig into our archives to bring you some past podcasts you might have missed. Enjoy our show and these films from the comfort of your safe space.

One of Illya’s favorite movies at Sundance in 2019 was J.D. Dillard’s midnight movie, Sweetheart. The horror/thriller movie stars Kiersey Clemons (Hearts Beat Loud, Dope) as a woman who is stranded on a desert island and stalked by a mysterious monster. J.D. discusses the difficulties of shooting on a small island in Fiji, on a short time schedule, while being entirely outdoors and subject to the whims of nature. As a black filmmaker, he feels like it’s important to put people who look like him in genre films such as fantasy and horror. Blumhouse, known for their horror movie slate, produced Sweetheart and you can currently stream it on Netflix.

J.D. is currently developing a new Star Wars project.

Find J.D. Dillard: @JGDillard (Twitter & Instagram)

Sweetheart is now streaming on Netflix. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyg3gU09SX8 (trailer)

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

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March 1, 2020

Sundance 2020-Location, Location, Location: The Night House director David Bruckner, writers Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski; Black Bear director Lawrence Michael Levine

Sundance 2020 Special Part 2: Location, Location, Location
These two very different movies both had striking locations that set the tone for the films.

The Night House director David Bruckner and writers Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski enjoy working in the horror genre, and wanted to explore making a film that doesn’t make you “feel safe” with many dense layers. The film deals with the horror of grief, loss and loneliness faced by the main character, Beth, played by Rebecca Hall. The Night House was shot mostly at night in a lake house in upstate New York.

The Night House was one of the first deals to close out of Sundance this year. It sold for $12 million to Disney-owned Searchlight.

Black Bear takes place in a large lake house estate, and director/writer Lawrence Michael Levine wrote the script with a specific location in mind. Unfortunately, the original location fell through, and Levine had to find another spot, which turned out to be quite remote but amazingly striking on film. The movie stars Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon, whose characters and performances script-flip midway through the film, but we are never meant to know what the characters actually think. The movie wittily explores issues of gender and feminism, and later, has a funny take on indie filmmaking.

Black Bear has yet to find distribution.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/sundance2020location/ ‎

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September 15, 2019

Special Episode: IT Chapter Two- Cinematographer Checco Varese, ASC reveals the stories behind the biggest horror franchise of the year

Checco Varese gives us the scoop on shooting IT Chapter Two with director Andrés Muschietti. Checco and his crew’s commitment to their craft has paid off: at the time of this post, IT Chapter Two has grossed more than $320 million worldwide.

September 8, 2019

Michael Gioulakis: on shooting Us, Glass, Split, It Follows, John Dies at the End, working with Jordan Peele, M. Night Shyamalan, David Mitchell and Don Coscarelli

Cinematographer Mike Gioulakis is best known for shooting horror films “Glass,” “Split,” and “Us.” He got a foothold in filmmaking with the cult indy film “John Dies at the End.” With “It Follows,” Mike and director David Mitchell created a retro, timeless look for the movie. He also discusses the meticulous storyboard sessions directors M. Night Shyamalan and Jordan Peele both have for their films.