August 18, 2020

Director and DP Brandon Trost: directing An American Pickle, shooting Crank: High Voltage, Halloween II, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, HBO pilot for Barry, comedy films MacGruber, The Interview and The Disaster Artist

Cinematographer and director Brandon Trost enjoys exploring different genres and styles of filmmaking, trying different things that push him outside of his comfort zone. Brandon grew up around film- he is the fourth generation of his family working in the movie industry. He attended LA Film School and soon began working as a cinematographer. One of Brandon’s early films, the action movie Crank: High Voltage, was shot much like a skateboarding video, with several small cameras strategically placed to capture the frenetic pace so that it would feel electric. Brandon loved working with director Rob Zombie on Halloween II, which was shot on 16 mm film for a very grainy and gritty look. Shooting the comedy film MacGruber was Brandon’s first experience working in the humor genre. He and director Jorma Taccone wanted it to look like Die Hard, taking all the action movie tropes to an extreme, which is what made it funny rather than choosing to shoot it like a conventional comedy movie. MacGruber helped launch Brandon’s career into shooting comedy movies This is the End, The Interview, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Neighbors and The Disaster Artist with Seth Rogan, Andy Sandberg, and James Franco. When shooting with comedians, Brandon found it’s important to be prepared for improvisation and to light the space so there’s flexibility for the actors to move within it, keeping shots fairly wide. For the films Diary of a Teenage Girl and Can You Ever Forgive Me? Brandon had the opportunity to switch gears again, working with director Marielle Heller. They chose a camera and lenses for Can You Ever Forgive Me? that gave the film a real, naturalistic, even unflattering look to Melissa McCarthy’s character. Brandon got to explore dark comedy again in the pilot for the HBO series, Barry. Creators Bill Hader and Alec Berg wanted the violence to feel very real, dark and yet funny, so Brandon chose to treat the pilot like a Coen brothers movie, using moody lighting and shooting with a single camera. An American Pickle is Brandon’s first time directing a large feature film. Frequent collaborators Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg asked Brandon to take a look at the script with an eye to directing, and the story appealed to him. Directing An American Pickle was challenging since Seth Rogan plays both main characters. Much of the film had to be shot twice- once with Seth Rogan as the character Herschel and then as the character Ben. Brandon found that choosing a director of photography when you’re also a cinematographer can be difficult, and he chose DP John Guleserian (Like Crazy, About Time, Love, Simon, the upcoming Candyman) to shoot the movie because he has a great sense of humor and is very collaborative.

Find Brandon Trost: https://www.brandontrost.com/
Twitter: @b_tro

See An American Pickle on HBO Max
Our interview with DP John Guleserian will be coming in October.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep87/

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Website: www.camnoir.com
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March 25, 2020

DP Stefan Ciupek on Guns Akimbo, the challenges of Russian Ark, working with Anthony Dod Mantle on Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 68: Stefan Ciupek

Stefan Ciupek became interested in film while growing up in East Germany, but his options were limited in what was then a Communist country. His family managed to escape to Poland, and movies became a refuge from difficult times. In fact, Stefan and his mother were able to pirate Western films and re-sell them as bootlegs. His family managed to move to West Berlin, and by the age of 16, Stefan had a videocamera and started studying film in Germany. Stefan became one of the first adopters of digital camera technology, and became an early digital imaging technician (DIT) and colorist. He helped pull off an amazing achievement with 2003’s Russian Ark, a 90 minute film shot entirely in one take, in one location. After his accomplishments on Russian Ark, cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle found him and the two worked on several projects, including 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire, which became the first digital film to win an Academy Award for Best Cinematography and Best Picture. As digital technology became more technical, Stefan decided he wanted to be more involved in the creative process and returned to cinematography. He shot director Lulu Wang’s first film, Posthumous, as well as several episodes of the upcoming season of The Spanish Princess on Starz.

For Guns Akimbo, Stefan read the script and immediately knew how he would shoot it. Everything in the action movie is highly exaggerated and over-the-top. Stefan used the Red Monstro camera, a variety of different lenses and high key lighting to highlight some of the humor.

You can see Guns Akimbo streaming now on Vudu and Amazon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOFatKD0Vzo

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep68/

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Hot Rod Cameras is giving away TWO professional, cinema quality Aputure MC lights! One for you AND a friend you tag! Go to http://hotrodcameras.com/giveaway to enter. Contest ends March 30, 2020.