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.
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