October 13, 2021

Old Henry director Potsy Ponciroli and cinematographer John Matysiak

Director and writer Potsy Ponciroli was scouting a location for another movie in the countryside just outside Nashville, Tennessee when he saw a historic old house built in the early 1900’s at the bottom of a valley. He began thinking about how lonely and isolated a person living in that house might be, and it planted the seed of an idea to write Old Henry. Potsy ended up using that exact location, shooting in that house and the surrounding area. He and cinematographer John Matysiak set out to capture the feel of a classic western- a simple story taking place in the old west, showing how hard life was at that time.

Old Henry is an action western starring Tim Blake Nelson as a farmer with a teen son living alone on their farm. Against his better judgement, Henry takes in a wounded stranger with a bag full of cash. Soon enough, a posse comes looking for the wanted man and Henry and his son must defend their homestead. Potsy approached Tim Blake Nelson to star in the film, and the two met several times over Zoom to discuss ideas from their favorite westerns. Soon, Nelson was also on board as an executive producer.

During preproduction, Potsy and DP John Matysiak walked around the location, reading the scenes from the script, checking out different angles and shotlisting each moment. Shooting in a real homestead built in the 1900’s was very challenging due to the small rooms with low ceilings and small windows that didn’t let in much natural light. To keep the look fresh in such a limited space, they carefully figured out what scenes would be in what rooms and made sure they weren’t shot back-to-back.

John first met Potsy when they were working on a television show in Nashville together. When Potsy showed him the Old Henry script, John liked the ideas he had for keeping the film small and plot driven until it builds to the finale. John is passionate about finding a visual language for the world he’s creating with the art of cinematography. He did as much research as he could for that time period, looking at old photographs and paintings from the early 1900’s Old West to get a feel for how people lived at that time. He was influenced by more recent westerns such as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Hostiles.

John Matysiak and Ben Rock actually met through the group Filmmakers Alliance and John worked on Ben’s short film, Conversations as a gaffer back in 2003.

Find Potsy Ponciroli: Instagram @getpotsy

Find John Matysiak: Instagram @john_matysiak

Old Henry premiered at the Venice Film Festival and is currently playing in theaters and will be on demand on October 15th.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep143/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Sponsored by Assemble: Assemble has amazing production management software. Use the code cinepod to try a month for free! https://www.assemble.tv/
Be sure to watch our YouTube video of Nate Watkin showing how Assemble works! https://youtu.be/IlpismVjab8

Sponsored by DZO Film: DZO Film makes professional high quality, short zoom lenses for smaller cameras, such as the 20-70mm T2.9 MFT lens and the 10-24mm T2.9 MFT. You can buy them at Hot Rod Cameras. https://www.dzofilm.com/

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

October 6, 2021

Cinematographer Maz Makhani on the Netflix film The Guilty, directed by Antoine Fuqua

The new Netflix movie, The Guilty follows Jake Gyllenhaal as Joe Baylor, an LAPD police detective who has been demoted to working at a call center as a 911 dispatcher. The film was shot during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in November of 2020 in just 11 days with a very small cast and crew on a controlled soundstage. Additional actors remotely voiced their roles as 911 callers seeking help.

Cinematographer Maz Makhani and director Antoine Fuqua had about one day of prep together before they started shooting. Maz and Fuqua walked through the set with Gyllenhaal for rehearsal while working out the blocking and coverage. Once the shoot day arrived, Fuqua could not physically be present as he had to quarantine after a COVID scare. He ended up directing the film remotely from a van parked outside. They wanted the film to have a “God’s Eye” perspective, so Maz used a very wide lens that showed the entire room. Antoine and Maz both favor a high-contrast lighting style that helped the dark subject matter, making the film feel real and raw. They mainly used the ambient light from the screens on the set and three digital cameras so that it had a more live and urgent feel. Since Antoine could not be on set, it was fortunate they chose digital so that he could see what was happening via a remote feed in real time and could communicate via text, cell phone and radio.

Find Maz Makhani: Instagram @mazmakhani_dp

You can see The Guilty on Netflix

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep142/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Sponsored by Assemble: Assemble has amazing production management software. Use the code cinepod to try a month for free! https://www.assemble.tv/
Be sure to watch our YouTube video of Nate Watkin showing how Assemble works! https://youtu.be/IlpismVjab8

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