February 26, 2024

Bonus Episode: To Kill a Tiger director Nisha Pahuja and editor Mike Munn

In this bonus episode of The Cinematography Podcast, we interview director Nisha Pahuja and editor Mike Munn about the documentary To Kill a Tiger. The film is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

**A warning that this episode discusses sexual assault and violence, so please take care.**

To Kill a Tiger is the story of Ranjit, a farmer in Jharkhand, India whose 13 year old daughter is raped by three men from her village. Ranjit is determined to get justice for his daughter through the legal system. In India, men rarely stand up for their daughters and conviction rates for rape are less than 30 percent. It’s common practice in the village for a girl to be married off to her abuser instead. Rangit and his family faced down threats of violence and ostracism by the townspeople.

Director Nisha Pahuja was originally making a documentary studying Indian masculinity when she met Ranjit and his daughter. She followed their story for about 18 months, thinking they would only be one part of the story. Only in the editing process did the story start to take shape. It became clear that Ranjit and his daughter Kiran were the strongest characters. Nisha admired Ranjit’s courage and love for his daughter. “I just think Ranjit is the kind of person who has this idea of doing the right thing inside of him. He’s just a very ethical, thoughtful person.” Because Kiran was only 13 at the time, Nisha had to be careful about revealing her identity. By the time the film was finished, Kiran was 18, and gave permission to show her face. Nisha says, “She said it was because she couldn’t believe how courageous she was when she was watching herself, she couldn’t believe her own courage and her own bravery. And she wanted to celebrate that.”

Nisha’s husband Mrinal Desai was the primary cinematographer on To Kill a Tiger, and they lived together in India while making the documentary. Nisha finds that he has a very quiet and gentle way with the people they film. She, Mrinal and their sound recordist Anita Kushwaha have worked together for a long time and are able to create an atmosphere of intimacy and trust.

Editor Mike Munn spent about 8 months working on the film before he decided that they had to distill it down to the best story. “We were wrestling a lot because we had, in fact, two different films. So Ranjit’s story was so specific and so well drawn out that it needed its own place. So, we jettisoned all of that work that we’d done.” Mike started expanding Ranjit’s story and discovered that this version of the film has a clear narrative arc with interesting characters. Fortunately, the raw footage came back from India with a basic transcription and subtitles that could be polished during the edit with the help of a translator. Mike says, “My favorite part overall was working with the observational and verite nature of the film. It was so intimate and real and we’re all creating scenes out of real emotion. This was a film where the narrative was all happening within real scenes with the family. That was challenging, but rewarding in just the truthfulness of it.”

To Kill a Tiger is in select theaters. https://tokillatigerfilm.com/

Find Nisha Pahuja: http://www.noticepicturesinc.com/
Instagram @nishappics

Find Mike Munn: https://mikemunneditor.com/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com

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

February 22, 2023

Oscar-nominated documentary All That Breathes cinematographers Ben Bernhard and Riju Das

All That Breathes follows the story of two brothers in New Delhi, India who run a home-based bird sanctuary dedicated to caring for black kites. Black kites are a common bird of prey in the city and have adapted well to living alongside humans. But as the pollution and toxic garbage in New Delhi increases, the kites, as well as other birds, fall ill from smog and other hazards in the urban environment. Muslim brothers Saud and Nadeem, along with their friend Salik, found a passion for caring for birds as kids and it seems like a thankless job as they apply for funding to expand their work.

Director Shaunak Sen worked with cinematographers Ben Bernhard and Riju Das to simply follow and capture the brother’s day-to-day life, and emphasize the interconnectedness of all things within a busy urban place like New Delhi. DP Ben Bernhard wanted to show the coexistence of all the animals in the city and create a perspective for the audience to see things down at their level. In fact, All That Breathes opens on a nest of rats living in a traffic circle in the city, right at a rat’s-eye view. Cows, pigs, and monkeys also live alongside the people, just like the kites, and adapt to their surroundings. Cinematographer Riju Das recalls carefully getting closeups of ants and a bottle full of mosquito larvae. The whole team was rigorous and meditative about taking the time to capture the beauty of urban wildlife in the city, and they would pick up the camera to shoot any animals where they found them. They utilized long, slow pans, a narrow depth of field and extreme close-ups of animals throughout.

All That Breathes is currently available on HBOMax and is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Find cinematographer Ben Bernhard: Instagram @ben_bernhard
Find cinematographer Riju Das: Instagram @eyeris_4

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

January 20, 2021

War Stories Vol. 5: Tales from the Set featuring Newton Thomas Sigel, Lije Sarki, Dan Kneece, Jeff Cronenweth, Tony Liberatore, Trevor Forrest, Iris Ng, Bill Totolo, Johnny Derango and Alex Winter

Special: The Cinematography Podcast- War Stories Vol. 5

In our fifth War Stories Special, we feature ten guest’s harrowing, hilarious or heartwarming stories they had while on set, or a formative career experience that led them to cinematography.

Find full interviews with each of our featured cinematographers in our archives! www.camnoir.com
Cinematographer Tom Sigel experiences a fight on the set of Three Kings; producer Lije Sarki and the horror film that never saw the light of day; Dan Kneece on working in Chile for a job; Jeff Cronenweth figured out an elaborate ruse to steal a shot while shooting The Social Network; storyboard artist Tony Liberatore on finding his career path; Trevor Forrest talks about one of his more unusual and life-affirming gigs; Iris Ng on the bureaucracy in Iraq to shoot at Shanidar Cave; Bill Totolo experiences the Survivor reality show shoot from hell; Johnny Derango races to get a shot; and finally, Alex Winter on shooting with a wind-up Bolex in a mosh pit.

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/warstories5/

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

August 2, 2020

Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS on The Mandalorian, Lion, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and more

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 85: Greig Fraser

World-renowned director of photography Greig Fraser grew up in Australia, working as a still photographer before he moved into cinematography, shooting shorts, TV shows and films for several Australian directors. Greig’s most recently completed project is The Mandalorian, which recently earned him an Emmy nomination. At first, Greig felt incredibly nervous about working on the frontline development for The Mandalorian because of the massive amount of technology involved. His usual approach as a DP has been naturalistic lighting, in a real setting, rather than an entirely manufactured environment on a soundstage. The Mandalorian brought together gaming technology and set design, which could only be done with the support of ILM and Lucasfilm. The Star Wars series used 3D digital environments built with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine gaming technology that was capable of interacting with the cameras and was projected on huge LED screens for very realistic backgrounds on the soundstage. Greig was not a Star Wars newbie- prior to The Mandalorian, he was the cinematographer of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. As a fan of Star Wars, Greig felt some trepidation at first about shooting Rogue One, because he was worried about losing that passion in the day-to-day while on set. Greig met with Rogue One director Gareth Edwards and loved his early film Monsters, so he was convinced to take the job. Grieg also discusses his work on the 2016 film, Lion, for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography. Greig was extremely excited to shoot Lion- he and fellow Australian director Garth Davis had worked together a number of times. As a photographer, Greig had traveled and shot in India, and he loved being able to return to India and Melbourne to shoot such a great story. For Lion, Greig and Garth Davis wanted to be very respectful of Indian culture, and be careful of their choices not to oversensationalize images of poverty. Greig shot many of the railway scenes in the film at the level of a small child to capture the character Saroo’s feelings of loss and helplessness.

Grieg Fraser is the cinematographer of two hugely anticipated films coming soon: Dune with director Denis Villeneuve and The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves.

Find Greig Fraser: Instagram @greigfraser_dp

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep85/

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