October 20, 2021

Robert Yeoman, ASC on The French Dispatch, working with director Wes Anderson for 25 years, Drugstore Cowboy, Bridesmaids and more

After working together for 25 years, cinematographer Robert Yeoman, ASC and director Wes Anderson share a similar aesthetic and creative process. Bob finds he can anticipate what Anderson wants to see and exactly how he wants to shoot things. The trademark of a Wes Anderson movie is a sense of humor and whimsy, and each film has a distinct color palette that deliberately tells a story. Both Bob and Anderson love the symmetrical style of Kubrick movies, but the symmetry in the frame of Anderson’s films draw on comic elements rather than those of horror. Anderson is involved in all the decisions on art direction, choices of textures, colors, costume, hair and makeup, testing many of his choices on film before making a decision. During their very long prep period, Anderson will make an animatic of the entire movie before the shoot, and try to match the reality to the animatic as much as possible. Bob finds this incredibly helpful, since Anderson’s movies are very complex- many shots are oners and use complicated dolly movies.

In the movie The French Dispatch, Bob and Anderson had planned on shooting at least one section in black and white. They fell in love with the black and white stock, so Bob ended up shooting a lot more than they had originally planned. Anderson also decided to mix three aspect ratios in the film to delineate different time periods and different stories, which Bob thought wouldn’t work very well, but ended up liking the end result. On every movie he makes, Anderson has a library of DVDs, photo books and research books that are available for the cast and crew to borrow. Naturally, for The French Dispatch, French movies were often referenced. It made it easy for Bob to have a shorthand way to communicate with Anderson on which French film they were emulating for framing, lighting and aspect ratio.

The 1989 film, Drugstore Cowboy, directed by Gus Van Sant, helped Bob make his name as a cinematographer. He used a much looser style, with the camera reacting to the actors rather than carefully planned out movements such as those favored by Wes Anderson. Bob found it a pleasure working with Van Sant, who is more of an experimental filmmaker, and from the moment he read the script for Drugstore Cowboy, he loved it.

Bob’s work on the comedies Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters (2016), and Get Him to the Greek also presented him with a different challenge- everything is cross shot with multiple cameras because so much of those movies are improvised. On both Bridesmaids and Ghostbusters, director Paul Feig’s style is to allow the actors freedom to do what they like, and as the cinematographer, Bob let them have the space and simply moved with them, lighting in a more generalized way.

The French Dispatch opens in theaters on October 22.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep144/

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

September 22, 2021

Cinematographer John Guleserian on Candyman, working with director Nia DaCosta, Like Crazy, About Time, An American Pickle

Cinematographer John Guleserian has never liked to be pigeonholed into one genre. He’s shot several romantic films, comedy movies and TV series, and with his latest film, Candyman, he can add horror movies to his skill set.

After attending film school at Columbia College in Chicago and then AFI, John worked on several small films and web series before the film Like Crazy launched his career. Most of the characters’ lines were improvised- director Drake Doremus worked from an outline rather than a script, and he had actors Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin improvise their blocking as well. John and Doremus went through the film chronologically in preproduction, deciding on the basic shots they wanted for the film, shooting it mostly in sequence. Like Crazy went to the Sundance Film Festival and won the Grand Jury prize.

John ended up doing several romantic movies after Like Crazy. Director Richard Curtis (Love, Actually) saw the film, flew John to London and asked him to shoot About Time- John’s favorite movie that he’s worked on so far. On About Time, John felt he learned about keeping the camera balanced between taking in the scope of a beautiful location and set, while still maintaining the intimacy of the characters.

For Candyman, John was directly influenced by the 1992 movie and wanted it to look like the original. John began working on the movie with only about four or five weeks of prep, but he and director Nia daCosta storyboarded and completely previsualized many of the sequences before shooting. In Candyman, reflections play a very important role and most of the art, windows and mirrors were prevised and carefully placed so that the reflections could be picked up by the camera. The visual effects team could then paint out the camera and adjust the Candyman’s movement in the reflections.

Find John Guleserian: http://www.johndp.com/ Instagram @johnguels

You can watch Candyman currently in theaters.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep141/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by Aputure: https://www.aputure.com/

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