November 16, 2022

Ben Davis, BSC on The Banshees of Inisherin, My Policeman, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Guardians of the Galaxy, and more

Cinematographer Ben Davis enjoys working on both big budget Marvel movies such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange as well as smaller films such as The Banshees of Inisherin, My Policeman, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Ben feels that the challenges of shooting large scale movies vs. small intimate movies might be different, but each film speaks for itself and needs to be told in a particular visual style.

Ben and The Banshees of Inisherin director Martin McDonagh have enjoyed working together regularly, beginning with Seven Psychopaths, then Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. When McDonagh called him about shooting Banshees, Ben agreed before even reading the script, because he knows McDonagh’s scripts are lyrical with humor sprinkled into the drama. They were shooting during the pandemic, so the two had to spend 10 days quarantined in a house together, which was a great opportunity to talk through and visualize the film. McDonagh knew that he wanted a period piece about a remote, gray and dreary place, but he wanted to bring in a more colorful palette, so costume design became important to bring in more colors.

Ben found Banshees difficult to shoot emotionally and physically, with everything shot on location on a couple of small, uninhabited islands- Inisherin is not actually a real place. They had to build all the sets for the movie from scratch on the coastal Atlantic islands, so everything had to withstand powerful winds and storms. The wide landscape vistas Ben shot were influenced by John Ford and Terrence Malick, and he enjoyed going off independently in the early morning with a camera to shoot small intimate aspects of the island. For the night exteriors using moonlight, Ben couldn’t use large equipment like cranes due to high winds. He used old techniques of lighting black and white, making shapes with mesh over hard light.

The Banshees of Inisherin is currently playing in theaters.

My Policeman can be found on Amazon Prime.

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

November 10, 2022

Trevor Kossack, WPA partner and commercial agent for cinematographers, production designers, editors, costume designers and more

As a partner and commercial agent at WPA- Worldwide Production Agency- Trevor Kossack represents directors, cinematographers, production designers, editors and costume designers. Trevor has a passion for those responsible for crafting the images that make movies, television shows and commercials.

Trevor first studied medicine in college, but soon realized that he didn’t want to be a doctor. He also had family in the entertainment industry and got an entry level job at the William Morris Agency. He found he really enjoyed working in a talent agency. As he switched agencies and worked his way up, Trevor decided he wanted to represent those below the line more than actors or writers. He appreciates what cinematographers, production designers, costume designers and editors need to do to create art, and everyone needs representation to protect their bests interests when they’re up for a job.

When looking for new talent, Trevor wants to fall in love with the person’s work and how it makes him feel. He likes to see real, human stories that draw people in, no matter what the subject. He networks with potential clients at film festivals and industry events, and keeps his finger on the pulse of industry news to find out the latest projects and people on the rise. Trevor enjoys having a good relationship with his clients, and is always looking to create a great “marriage” between a director and a DP. As an agent, Trevor’s job is to have conversations with his clients about what’s available, what their brand is and how it can be adjusted, and matching the person to the right job. He always respects an artist’s choice on the jobs they decide to take, or pass over.

Trevor’s tips on how to find an agent:

Have a reel of your work and feel confident in the work you’ve done so far, no matter how much experience you have.

Make a plan and discuss what your plans are for your career in the next year, and then the next 5 years.

Figure out who your influences are, including any and all art, from fine art and photography to architecture or anything else.

Remember that getting an agent is just a step along the way. Everyone in the entertainment industry still needs to network and hustle to find their next projects.

He’s always open to emails, phone calls or taking a look at a potential client’s reel. Even if you don’t get representation right away, it’s always good to stay in touch.

Find Trevor Kossack at WPA: https://wp-a.com/

Sponsored by Aputure: https://www.aputure.com/
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

November 2, 2022

Checco Varese, ASC on his Emmy winning work for the Hulu series, Dopesick

This week we welcome Checco Varese, our friend of the podcast and 4th time guest!

The Hulu series Dopesick tells the complex story of the opioid epidemic through multiple points of view over its eight episode arc. Cinematographer Checco Varese, ASC shot every single episode, and recently earned his first Emmy award in 2022 for Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited or Anthology Series.

Checco decided to approach the story and its characters as a series of four concentric plot circles. At the center of Dopesick is the Appalachian mining town and the small town doctor (Michael Keaton) who serves the community there; then the prosecutors trying to nail Purdue Pharma; the pharmaceutical company reps who are riding high on drug sales; and finally the Sackler family, who knowingly misled everyone about the addictive nature of OxyContin. He met with showrunner Danny Strong and director of the first two episodes, Barry Levinson, to discuss the look of each section. For the small Appalachian town, Checco was influenced by the look of the film The Deer Hunter, and used the cool blues of winter light. The Insider was a reference for the storyline of the DEA and Virginia prosecutors, and they embraced the use of florescent lights and conference rooms. To symbolize the wealth and excess of the Sackler family and the Purdue Pharma sales people, Checco liked the bright colors and opulence of Eyes Wide Shut. Since it’s a character-driven story dramatizing true events, Checco knew that Dopesick was about being a fly on the wall, while keeping everything engaging and compelling, so he wanted to make sure that each film reference still felt subtle, natural and realistic.

Checco feels that lighting for film and television can be like poetry. Most of the mood and atmosphere is made with lighting, with the camera movements serving as the film’s punctuation marks: commas, exclamation points, or periods. As a cinematographer, Checco loves to go deep into the project and usually feels passionate about what he’s doing, so that his soul is on the screen. He’s had the opportunity to work with his wife, director Patricia Riggen, on several projects, and they also worked together on a few episodes of Dopesick. Checco says that when they’re on a show together, they get very absorbed in their work, and there’s no “off” switch, but he loves having that relationship with her. For Dopesick, he was excited to work on a series that was truthful and honest, and he enjoys telling important stories that matter.
Dopesick is currently on Hulu.

Find Checco Varese: https://checcovarese.com/wp/
Instagram: @checcovarese

Sponsored by Aputure: https://www.aputure.com/
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

October 26, 2022

Cinematographer Eric Branco on the new Showtime series, Let The Right One In

The new Showtime series Let the Right One In expands on the ideas introduced in the now-classic 2008 Swedish horror movie and the American remake. A man, Mark Kane (Demián Bichir) and his tween daughter, Ellie (Madison Taylor Baez) move in to a New York City apartment, where she befriends the lonely, bullied boy down the hall. But she has a huge secret that her father helps her keep- she is a child vampire who must survive on blood and can’t go outside in the daytime. The series Let The Right One In explores the relationships and conflicts within families, the horror of vampires, and brings in new characters, crimes and mysteries to add layers to the story.

Cinematographer Eric Branco had seen the original Let The Right One In, shot by legendary DP Hoyte van Hoytema, as well as the American version, Let Me In, lensed by none other than Greig Fraser, and it remains one of Eric’s favorite movies. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to bring his own look and feel to the story and make it his own. Eric focused on the idea that for the young vampire girl, the indoors is safe and the outdoors is not, so the home features very warm light with lots of yellows, while outside is a shadowy, cool blue and green. He also played with the natural contrast of light between night and day. At night, it was important to play up the danger and horror elements with action taking place in shadows and tunnels, with yellow streetlights selectively showing bits and pieces, building suspense.

Let The Right One In is much wider in scope than the movies, featuring many other storylines and locations, which created its own challenges. Eric and the crew had to work within the time constraints for the child actors, especially at night. Planning, blocking and rehearsal became an essential part of some shoot days. When they were shooting the pilot, they had to wait until dark, during the summer solstice- the longest day of the year. That left them with about 2 ½ hours to shoot with the lead actress, Madison Taylor Baez. The most challenging day for Eric was when they did a night shoot at Coney Island with very limited time on the Wonder Wheel with the actors. He and the camera department planned extensively and strategically placed cameras all over to cover all of the action, after several scouts and extensive rehearsals before dark. Eric says that when you have to work with that many cameras and with so much riding on timing and coordination, it becomes more like a team sport and it feels amazing to pull it all off. Eric also likes to have an open, trusting relationship with the actors and let them have more freedom of movement within the frame to explore their characters and enhance their performances. Eric thinks the trust is built on the DP’s end, especially when you’re shooting something in an unconventional way like on Let The Right One In.

Let The Right One In is currently on Showtime. https://www.sho.com/let-the-right-one-in

Find Eric Branco- Instagram: @ericbranco
Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep189/
Hear Eric’s previous interview on The Cinepod: https://www.camnoir.com/ep95/

Sponsored by ARRI: https://www.arri.com/en
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

October 19, 2022

Court Crandall, writer and director of the buddy comedy Bromates

The comedy Bromates is about buddies Sid (Josh Brener) and Jonesie (Lil Rel Howry) who are both going through a breakup, so the two move in together. During a night out at a bar with a group of friends, nerdy Sid meets a woman from out of town. The guys convince Sid to go after her, and head out on a road trip to Texas together, encountering crazy situations and adventure along the way.

Court and writing partner Chris Kemper wanted to do a story about guys moving in together and helping each other through a breakup. The film was independently made at first, and Court says it was a hard sell to make a movie about guys behaving like jackasses, since these days, so many comedies just go straight to streaming. Luckily, musician and entrepreneur Snoop Dogg came on board as an executive producer with his new production company, Snoopadelic Films Inc. He plays himself in a few scenes of the film, and though Snoop doesn’t prefer to act, he was willing to do it for Bromates.

Court and the production team pursued several different comedians who could bring plenty of laughs and gags to the movie. They found comedic actors who could do a ton of improv. A good portion of the movie is ad-libbed, and Court found it easy to work with funny people who make the script stronger. Court would shoot the scene once for coverage, and then they’d start playing around. As a director, Court values time management, so he knew it was important to know when to say when, and to limit the amount of takes for each scene. They only had a five week shoot, and he found it was important to hit the main story points so that the plot stayed cohesive than just keep shooting endless jokes.

Court is the found and CEO of the ad agency, Positivity, with screenwriting as just a side gig. His first script was for a movie called A Lobster Tale, which he sold and then was finally made 10 years later. Court also wrote the first draft of the movie Old School, based on his experience of being in a fraternity. He pitched the story to director Todd Phillips, sold the idea and received “story by” credit for the film.

Find Court Crandall: https://www.positivitybrand.com/new-page-2
Instagram: @courtcrandall
Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep188/

Sponsored by Aputure: https://www.aputure.com/
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

October 12, 2022

Charlie Sarroff, cinematographer of the horror films Smile and Relic

Cinematographer Charlie Sarroff loves to shoot horror movies, and he knew when he read the script for the horror film, Smile, that it would be fun, gory and dark. This week (10/12/2022) Smile is still the number one movie in America, with the biggest opening of September and the highest box office take overall for its second straight week. Charlie and Smile director Parker Finn first met at a SXSW event, where each had movies showing at the festival. They found they had similar tastes and sensibilities. Finn loved Charlie’s previous work on the horror film Relic and asked Charlie to be Smile’s cinematographer. Movies such as The Ring, It Follows and Rosemary’s Baby were big influences on their approach to Smile. Charlie chose to build a sense of suspense with camera movement, so the audience feels as though a lurking presence was there at all times. They almost exclusively used wide lenses and no over the shoulder shots so that the character of Rose would always feel isolated. Every scene Rose is in, she is meant to feel disconnected from other people. Smiles were also a big motif in the film, of course, and served as a metaphor for the masks everyone wears.

As a kid, Charlie really loved skateboarding and video production became a big part of it. He had a camcorder and recorded skate videos of his friends. Charlie knew early on that he enjoyed shooting and editing more than directing, and he decided to go to film school in Melbourne. Friends in film school asked him to shoot their movies and he worked his way up, filming music videos and commercials. Charlie’s biggest break came when director Natalie Erika James asked him to shoot her short film Creswick which she expanded into the feature film Relic and was picked up by IFC. At first, the film’s backers wanted to go with someone more experienced to shoot Relic, but Charlie prevailed and the film ended up going to Sundance and SXSW.

Find Charlie Sarroff: https://charliesarroff.com/
Instagram: @charlie_sarroff

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep187/

Sponsored by Arri: https://www.arri.com/en
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

October 5, 2022

Mike Prickett, Emmy-winning surf cinematographer of HBOs 100 Foot Wave

The six part HBO documentary 100 Foot Wave is the story of big wave surfer Garrett McNamara, as he learns about the biggest waves in the world in Nazaré, Portugal. Then, with help from the town of Nazaré, he and his team set up a safety and support system and invite surfers to come from all over the world to surf. The series captures the amazing power of the ocean, and the passion of surfers chasing big waves and putting themselves at risk of serious injury and death.

Surf and ocean cinematographer Mike Prickett was the perfect DP for 100 Foot Wave. Mike has decades of experience shooting in the water, following Garrett and many other big wave surfers around the world. He’s shot documentaries Riding Giants, Step Into Liquid and the biopic Chasing Mavericks. As a kid growing up on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, Mike took advantage of living in a tourist spot. He had his own camera, took pictures of the tourists, developed and printed the pictures while they did glass bottom boat tours, and then sold the photos to them when they returned. He soon figured out how to take photos underwater with his camera in a water housing, then got a 16mm Bolex camera and started shooting movies. Mike learned how to surf and began filming the top surfers around the world, developing new and better camera systems as the technology progressed.

On a shoot in Tahiti in 2012, Mike saved a diver who got caught in a current that pushed him down at least 220 feet underwater. As Mike swam back up with the diver, they began to run out of air and had to surface quickly. Mike got the bends, which has left his legs partially paralyzed. But he’s kept right on shooting, developing different and exciting ways to further the technology of water cinematography. Mike says that even if you can’t use your legs very well, it doesn’t matter when you’re out there. He’s able to shoot from the cliffs, use remote controlled jet skis and drones, and fly in helicopters, ride jet skis or boats on the ocean.

For 100 Foot Wave, Nazaré, Portugal presented some unique challenges as a location, because the waves are so big and the area gets so foggy. The surfers and the camera crew wait all year for the big waves to come to Nazaré by November and December, and they must be ready to go and shoot at a moment’s notice. Shooting is a massive undertaking, with at least 15 camera people on the waves to catch the action. The crew caught the action with long lenses from the cliffs, the beach, and with waterproof drones, but when it was foggy, they needed to have people in the water. Mike and the team built a special remote controlled electric jet ski with a gimbal system that could be controlled by an operator from the cliffs- basically inventing a way to do smooth dolly shots on the water.

Mike Prickett just won a Creative Arts Emmy for episode four of 100 Foot Wave.

100 Foot Wave is streaming on HBOMax.

Find Mike Prickett: https://saltnairstudios.com/
Instagram: @mikeprickett_

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep186/

Sponsored by DZOFilm: https://www.dzofilm.com/
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

September 28, 2022

Cinematographer Alicia Robbins on the Netflix series Keep Breathing, Grey’s Anatomy and the upcoming season of Bridgerton

Cinematographer Alicia Robbins’ work on the Netflix show, Keep Breathing, was quite challenging as they had location scouts at seven different remote forests in Vancouver, Canada near Whistler. The crew had to off-road it for miles, and they filmed in some locations that had never been shot before.

Keep Breathing is about Liv Rivera, a high-powered attorney whose private plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness. Alone, she must conquer her inner demons and struggle to survive while finding her way back to civilization. Liv’s life is shown in flashbacks as she tramps through the forest.

Alicia shot the second block of Keep Breathing while fellow cinematographer Jon Joffin shot the first block. Jon put the team together for the first half and she was happy that the key crew was already established. Due to the pandemic, Alicia had to quarantine in her apartment in Canada for two weeks. The added time gave her the chance to go over the lookbook, watch dailies from the first half, and have hours of discussion with the director about shots, colors and tone. As a DP, Alicia says so much of the time you’re just thrown into prep, quickly looking at locations, without enough time to think it all through.

Cinepod host Illya and Alicia first met working on a small low budget indie feature called Boppin’ At the Glue Factory, written and directed by Illya’s longtime friend Jeff Orgill. Alicia began her career after graduating from AFI and started shooting low budget features while working her way up. Her first big television DP job was the series Grey’s Anatomy, where she worked for nearly three years. Alicia was ready to to try something new and expand her skills as a cinematographer, so she was excited to face the challenges on Keep Breathing.

Alicia is currently shooting the new season of Bridgerton, which has been a delight. She enjoys working in London, with amazing, beautiful locations and lush, colorful costumes and set design.

Find Alicia Robbins: https://www.aliciarobbins.com/
Instagram: @aliciacamchick

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep185/

Sponsored by Aputure: https://www.aputure.com/
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

September 21, 2022

Kays Al-Atrakchi: director, composer, colorist, VFX artist and filmmaker of the upcoming short film, Everbliss Inn

At long last, we welcome longtime friend and multi-hyphenate filmmaker, Kays Al-Atrakchi to the Cinepod!

Kays feels there are film composers who love music and composers who simply love movies. He himself absolutely loves all things film. Born in Florence, Italy, Kays started to get interested in music as a kid and picked up a soundtrack to Dario Argento’s Inferno in a local record store because he liked how the cover looked. It didn’t sound like anything he’d ever heard before, and he decided to listen to more movie soundtracks. Then he bought the soundtrack for John Carpenter’s Escape From New York, and found he could replicate the soundtrack on his keyboard at home. His only connection to Dario Argento and John Carpenter was through the music, since he wasn’t able to see their movies.

As a teen, Kays’ family moved from Italy to Orlando, Florida. He continued to pursue his love of film, music, and composition, and attended Berklee College of Music to learn film scoring. He began scoring student films in Orlando, where he met future friends and collaborators Ben Rock, Dan Myrick, Ben Hershleder, and many others before relocating to Los Angeles. He has composed the soundtracks for several of Ben’s movies, including Alien Raiders. For Kays, composing is more about interpreting someone’s vision and trying to elevate it, and to create through music an emotional connection with the audience.

Kays felt unfulfilled as a filmmaker, so between film scoring jobs, he decided to make his own short, Appntmnt, followed by another short, In Lucidity. For In Lucidity, Kays simply didn’t have the budget to hire someone to create all the visual effects he wanted, so he taught himself how to do all the special effects and color grading by watching YouTube videos. Filmmaking technology has progressed so much, he feels confident that with enough time and self-education, a filmmaker can learn any aspect of moviemaking. Kays loves the collaborative nature of film, but as an independent filmmaker, he finds he has to do the bulk of the work on his projects alone out of necessity rather than a desire to work solo. He enjoys sharing what he’s learned and has created Right Brained Tutorials, a YouTube channel for other filmmakers to learn visual effects.

Kays’ latest short horror directing project, Everbliss Inn, will be streaming in November. Kays wrote, directed, composed the music, color graded, and created the VFX for the film.

You can hear original theme music by Kays throughout The Cinematography Podcast.

Find Kays Alatrakchi: http://musicbykays.com
Filmmaking: http://moviesbykays.com
Instagram: @kaysfilmmaker
YouTube channel: Right Brained Tutorials: https://www.youtube.com/c/RightBrainedTutorials

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep184/

Sponsored by ARRI: https://www.arri.com/en
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

September 14, 2022

Brendan Uegama, CSC on Moonshot, Riverdale, Truth Be Told, Child’s Play and Mike, the Hulu Mike Tyson dramatic series

Cinematographer Brendan Uegama, CSC enjoys shooting many different genres, from romantic comedies such as Moonshot, to horror movies such as Child’s Play (2019). He enjoys changing his approach to each project depending on the needs of the script. Brendan feels that a good filmmaker knows that the cinematographer is there to serve the story and builds trust with the DP to create the look and feel.

As a kid, Brendan was always into photography and art. He and some high school friends shot skate videos of themselves, and soon after he began making motocross videos. He knew then he wanted to get into film and went to film school in Vancouver, Canada and began working his way up.

Brendan shot 26 episodes of the CW series Riverdale, including every episode of season two. Being the DP for every chapter of the show meant prep time was very short, and Brendan relied on and trusted his team to do location scouts and work ahead. Riverdale was a great show to do that was fun, creative and led to many other projects for him, such as the show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and later, Moonshot.

The film Moonshot is a romantic comedy set in space, rather than just a science fiction movie. Mars has been terraformed and colonized and the two main characters are traveling to see their significant others, but fall for each other. Because of the science fiction aspect, everything was storyboarded out and had a decent amount of prep time, and much of Moonshot’s science fiction aspects were done with practical effects. Brendan knew where they needed to rely on visual effects ahead of time. The most challenging part of the film to shoot was the spacewalk scene, which involved extensive wirework and visual effects.

Brendan’s latest project, Mike, a dramatic biography series on Hulu about heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, is currently streaming.

Find Brendan Uegama: https://www.brendanuegama.com/
Instagram: @brendanuegama_dp
Twitter: @brendanuegama

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep183/

Sponsored by DZOFilm: https://www.dzofilm.com/
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