March 13, 2024

House of Ninjas showrunner and executive producer Dave Boyle

The Netflix series House of Ninjas has become a hit show, rising to #1 in the streaming service’s top 10 list. The story follows the Tawara family, who have been ninjas, or shinobi, for generations. Tragically, the oldest son and brother disappeared six years before in a battle with their rivals, leading the Tawaras to stop being ninjas. But the family must fight together again as the rival clan gets more powerful and threatens the entire country.

Showrunner Dave Boyle was first brought on as showrunner for House of Ninjas by an executive at Netflix Japan, who knew he was familiar with the culture. Dave’s second language is Japanese, which he studied as a Mormon missionary in Australia. He had written and directed a few independent Japanese American and Japanese language films, such as Man from Reno, Daylight Savings and Surrogate Valentine, which all took place in the U.S. This was his first experience with shooting anything in Japan. He was drawn to the tone of House of Ninjas, which combines both drama, action and violence with comedy and warmhearted playfulness. “Tone was the reason why we all wanted to make this project. It’s more than the plot mechanics and the story. It was all about creating this atmosphere, this tone that an audience could sink into and enjoy for many, many episodes. And so I think that tone was something that we were talking about from the very, very get-go and something that we really wanted to nail and get right.”

Once he was on board, Dave began working on the preproduction and show bible for House of Ninjas. The show bible had to be written in three weeks, which is a very fast process, especially since Dave knew the show’s foundation required a deep understanding of shinobi culture and history. He found the preproduction process in Japan to be much different from the U.S., with casting happening even before the show’s scripts were written. The script format in Japan read from right to left, and the top half of the page is left blank for the director to draw storyboards and a shotlist, as a clear way for the director to show what they’re planning to do.

House of Ninjas is available on Netflix.

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

March 6, 2024

Jenelle Riley, Variety’s Deputy Awards and Features Editor, discusses the 2024 Academy Awards nominations

Long-time friend and colleague Jenelle Riley of Variety magazine chats with Ben and Illya for our fifth annual Oscar nominations special. With a focus on cinematography, they discuss what they liked, what will win, what should win, and their favorite movies of the year that may have been overlooked. They also talk about the past year in movies, Oscar campaigning and the accusations of film “snubs.”

Here’s a rundown of some of the films and topics discussed in this episode. Listen to our recent interviews with the nominated DPs as well as other films of note!

Spike Lee, who won an ASC Board of Governors award
Hoyte Van Hoytema, Oppenheimer, who also won an ASC award for theatrical feature film
Ed Lachman, El Conde
Matty Libatique, Maestro
Robbie Ryan, Poor Things
Rodrigo Prieto, Martin Scorsese Killers of the Flower Moon
Barbie, Ryan Gosling
Nyad, Anette Bening
The Holdovers (DP Eigil Bryld) , Alexander Payne, Da’Vine Joy Randolph
Past Lives (DP Shabier Kirchner), Greta Lee
American Fiction (DP Cristina Dunlap)
Wonka
Saltburn (DP Linus Sandgren)
The Killer (DP Eric Messerschmidt)
May/December

Find Jenelle Riley on Instagram and X: @jenelleriley
and Variety: https://variety.com/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com

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

February 14, 2024

Oppenheimer cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, ASC

Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, ASC and director Christopher Nolan have crafted some of the most visually stunning and intellectually stimulating films of the 21st century. The film Oppenheimer marks their fourth collaboration, and they’ve achieved an ease and rapport with each other over time. “In all these years, we’ve spent so many endless hours in scouting vans and on airplanes and on film sets. So we have done a lot of the talking together. Chris is a very meticulous filmmaker, but this process has also allowed us to be very intuitive and we can kind of skim through a lot of bullshit just by knowing each other,” Hoyte says.

Hoyte first began working with Nolan on Interstellar in 2014. At first he found the scale of the film extremely daunting. “I was literally looking up at that crazy, gigantic mountain in front of me and thinking, how am I going to do this and how am I going to even technically wrap my head around this? But (Nolan) was always very calm and very reassuring and he said, ‘Let’s just start’.” Despite it being their first project together, the synergy between Nolan’s bold vision and Hoyte’s keen eye for detail was immediately apparent. They employed a combination of practical effects and cutting-edge visual techniques to bring the vastness of space and the intricacies of theoretical physics to life on the screen. Nolan uses practical effects as much as possible, and he needed creative techniques to get across the idea of atomic energy on Oppenheimer. The second unit crew spent time experimenting with shots to create the effects of atomic particles and atoms interacting for scenes when Robert Oppenheimer envisions harnessing nuclear energy.

To tell a story as big and complex as Oppenheimer, Nolan and Hoyte chose to shoot on IMAX. This required some invention and innovation. Nolan wanted to shoot the congressional hearing scenes in black and white, but black and white film stock for IMAX did not exist. Kodak was happy to manufacture it for the movie, although it was challenging to use. The black and white film didn’t fit into the camera the same way, so they had to re-engineer the camera gates and pressure plates.

Even though they were shooting with an extremely large format camera, Hoyte wanted to get very intimate, close shots. “Chris and I had to decide that our vistas in this film, our scope, is not something that comes from landscapes or wideness or action, but it has to come from faces, you know? I always say the faces kind of became our landscapes. But I also believe that scope is something that comes from what you as an audience project onto something.” They opted for a very simple, naturalistic style to the cinematography to support the unfolding psychological drama. Each frame is not just a visual composition but a narrative device, serving to deepen the emotional resonance of the story and engage the audience on a visceral level.

Oppenheimer is playing in theaters, available on VOD, or streaming on Peacock starting February 16. Hoyte Van Hoytema is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

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

March 8, 2023

Jenelle Riley, Variety’s Deputy Awards and Features Editor, discusses the 2023 Academy Awards nominations

Long-time friend and colleague Jenelle Riley of Variety magazine chats with Ben and Illya for our fourth annual Oscar nominations special. With a focus on cinematography, they discuss what they liked, what will win, what should win, and their favorite movies of the year that may not have been recognized.

Here’s a rundown of some of the nominations discussed in this episode, as well as great films that were not nominated this awards season. Listen to our interviews with the nominated DPs as well as other films of note!

Tár, Florian Hoffmeister
Mandy Walker, nominated for Elvis, the first woman to win an ASC Award
All Quiet on the Western Front, James Friend, who won a BAFTA
Everything Everywhere All At Once, Larkin Seiple who was not nominated
Roger Deakins, Empire of Light
Darius Khondji, Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
Greig Fraser, who won last year for Dune and also shot The Batman
Women nominated for best cinematography but have never won: Rachel Morrison, Ari Wegner
Banshees of Inisherin, Ben Davis
Babylon, Linus Sandgren
Hoyte Van Hoytema, Nope

Find Jenelle Riley on Instagram and Twitter: @jenelleriley

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