June 22, 2022

Director Jim Archer, actors and writers David Earl and Chris Hayward on the offbeat film, Brian and Charles

Brian and Charles is about an awkward and lonely inventor, Brian, who lives in rural Wales. He rarely makes contraptions that are useful or work right, but one day, he finally creates a robot. Charles Petrescu, built out of an old washing machine and a mannequin, becomes Brian’s friend. But as Charles becomes more and more curious and self-aware, he decides he wants to explore the world on his own.

Actor David Earl is a comedian and came up with the eccentric character of Brian as a bit on the stand up circuit in the UK. One day on an internet radio call in show, a friend called in to interact with David’s character using computer voice simulation software. Fellow actor and comedian Chris Hayward heard it, came up with the idea of Charles as Brian’s robot sidekick, and the two took it on the road as a live show. Chris built the Charles robot character as a costume, and another friend would type in what Charles would say into the voice simulator to interact with the audience. In 2017, the two teamed up with director Jim Archer to make a short film about the characters, and it did well at festivals. After that, the UK production company Film4 backed developing the script into a feature film.

For the feature version of Brian and Charles, director Jim Archer decided to expand on the mockumentary style. He wanted it to look like a real documentary, with a serious dramatic and cinematic look rather than as a wink and a nod to other mockumentaries. The friends were inspired by the documentaries American Movie and Monster Road – true stories about lonely people desperate for their dream to come true.

Brian and Charles premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is currently playing in theaters. https://www.focusfeatures.com/brian-and-charles/watch/

Jim Archer: Instagram & Twitter: @alrightjim

David Earl: Instagram @davidearlhello

Chris Hayward: https://www.curtisbrown.co.uk/client/chris-hayward

Charles Petrescu has his own twitter account: @CharlesPetrescu

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep173/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by Arri: https://www.arri.com/en

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

June 15, 2022

Director Chloe Okuno and DP Benjamin Kirk Nielsen, DFF on directing and shooting the film Watcher

Watcher is a psychological thriller about a young actress, Julia, who has just moved to Romania from the U.S. with her boyfriend. A serial killer is on the loose in the city, and Julia begins to feel like she is being followed and watched from the apartment across the street. She has trouble convincing her boyfriend and the police that she’s being stalked, and the film builds on her increasing sense of dread.

Director Chloe Okuno and DP Benjamin Kirk Nielsen first met at American Film Institute, and collaborated on their thesis film, a short horror movie called Slut. They both believe in extensive organization, preparation, shotlisting and planning for their projects. Chloe was hired to direct Watcher in 2017, and it took some time to get the movie off the ground. They ended up shooting in Romania during the summer of 2021 under strict COVID protocols. Chloe liked that the script was a simple thriller that could be told from one character’s point of view. Chloe and Benjamin looked at Rosemary’s Baby, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and David Fincher films Seven and Gone Girl as references to impart the sense of terror Julia feels. Benjamin wanted to find a simple, straightforward way to portray Julia’s isolation in a foreign city as her fear escalates. He chose to start with longer camera focal lengths and longer shots, then progressively move closer and closer as the Watcher creeps closer and closer to Julia.

Watcher premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is currently playing in theaters. https://www.watchermovie.com/

Chloe Okuno: Twitter @cokuno_san

Benjamin Kirk Nielsen: http://benjaminkirk.dk/
Instagram: @b_kirk

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep172/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by DZOFilm: https://www.dzofilm.com/

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

June 8, 2022

Director Carey Williams and DP Mike Dallatorre on directing and shooting the film Emergency

Emergency is a comedy about three men of color- college roommates Kunle, Sean, and Carlos, who are about to go out for an epic night of spring break partying when they find a white girl has accidentally stumbled in and passed out on their apartment floor. Concerned about what might happen if they call the police, they decide to take the semi-conscious girl in their van and drive around town for hours, trying to find a safe place to leave her and not get in trouble. Meanwhile, the girl’s friends chase after the men as they track her phone and call the police.

Director Carey Williams and cinematographer Mike Dallatorre met about twenty years ago and have worked together on several music videos and other projects. Emergency began as a 2018 short film directed by Carey and shot by Mike. The short won a jury award at the Sundance Film Festival and Best Narrative Short at SXSW. Carey and writer KD Dávila worked together to expand the story into a feature, and Temple Hill Entertainment and Amazon Studios produced it before the feature premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

As two men of color themselves, both Carey and Mike have had personal experience with being profiled and detained by police officers. In Emergency, once the roommates are caught and detained by the police, Mike and Carey decided to make the film feel extremely terrifying, shooting the encounter in slow motion and selectively out of focus. Mike deliberately kept the police officer’s faces out of frame so that they feel like scary monsters in a horror movie.

Having worked together for so long, Mike and Carey had an easy shorthand way of talking through the shotlist and visual feel for each scene, and put together a look book as a reference. Emergency is Carey’s biggest movie to date, while Mike brought a lot of experience with seven other features under his belt. As a visual director, Carey always wanted to know what the movie would look like and feel like. The most important piece of the movie for Carey was to show the relationship between the friends, their emotions and vulnerability as they go through a crisis together.

Emergency is currently playing in theaters and on Amazon Prime.

Carey Williams http://cdubfilms.com/
Instagram @cdubig

Mike Dallatorre: https://www.michaeldallatorre.com/
Instagram @dp_miked

Hear our previous Cinepod interview with Mike Dallatorre: https://www.camnoir.com/ep70/

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep171/

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

June 1, 2022

Michael FitzMaurice, aerial cinematographer for Top Gun Maverick, shooting second unit on The Dark Knight, and more

Cinematographer Michael FitzMaurice is known for his aerial and second unit cinematography on huge films such as The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Godzilla: King of the Monsters and now Top Gun Maverick. In the film business, second unit and aerial cinematography are involved in all of the action shots, and as a more technically-oriented DP, Michael has been able to combine his two loves- flying and shooting movies.

Michael started out learning about photography in seventh grade, and then got a job out of high school working as a PA for a production company, eventually working his way up shooting music videos and commercials. It was hard to get into aerial cinematography, but with a love of flying and a pilot’s license, he was able to prove he could shoot while flying, and pilots would recommend him for aerial cinematography jobs. Aerial cinematography is a very small and select group of people, requiring a very special skill set. When shooting film in a helicopter or plane, it’s tough for most DPs to focus on composing a shot in a small space that is also moving quickly and unpredictably, and not get airsick.

Top Gun Maverick was hugely dependent on its aerial unit, with most of the action done as a real, practical effect. The aerial unit used two jets, a helicopter and also shot from mountaintops to capture the action as the fighter jets flew past. As a trained pilot himself, Tom Cruise actually flew the jets and did many of his own stunts. Each training jet was outfitted with six cameras to capture the action of the actors in the cockpit. Michael and the aerial crew worked on the movie for over a year, developing new, special gimbal camera systems mounted on the jets. The crew had hours and hours of pre-production meetings, to get a clear idea of the shots needed and how to accomplish them with aircraft and cameras. Michael took a lot of notes and used models to act out aerobatic maneuvers for the planes before shooting them. For Michael, one of the highlights of working on Top Gun Maverick was being allowed to fly very low over a Navy aircraft carrier, although they were not allowed to land on it.

Working on Top Gun Maverick was great, but Michael’s craziest movie experience was working on second unit of The Dark Knight with director Christopher Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister. The movie was shot in IMAX, which is a notoriously difficult format to shoot- IMAX cameras at the time had a very faulty video tap for the monitors. For the scene, Heath Ledger as the Joker blows up a hospital and walks away, all in one take. The explosion was done on a real building, rigged up with real explosives, so there were no second takes. They began the take, but as soon as they went outside, the video tap went white and they couldn’t really tell if they were actually getting anything on film at all, but they kept rolling, the building exploded, and hoped the whole thing was actually caught on film- which took about two days to get the film developed and the dailies back. Luckily, it all turned out perfectly.

Top Gun Maverick is currently playing in theaters.

Michael FitzMaurice: Instagram @michaelfitzmaurice

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep170/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by ARRI: https://www.arri.com/en

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

May 25, 2022

Filmmakers James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte on their new documentary series, The Big Conn

James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte are Emmy-nominated documentary directors and producers for the HBO documentary series, McMillion$. Brian and James return to Cinepod to talk about their latest documentary, The Big Conn, now airing on Apple TV+.

The Big Conn is a four-part documentary series that tells the unbelievable true story of larger-than-life attorney, Eric C. Conn. Conn stole over half a billion dollars from the government and taxpayers in the largest Social Security fraud case in United States history. Conn got away with it for more than 10 years before two whistleblowers told the FBI what he was doing and Conn went on the run.

Documentary filmmaking has grown and elevated as an art over the years, and James and Brian take a cinematic approach to the form. Their previous documentary series, McMillion$ had a thread of comedy throughout, with such interesting characters that it reminded them of a Coen brothers movie. For The Big Conn, Brian and James took a similar approach. They dive deep into Eric Conn’s life, using comedy to hold the audience’s interest, but underneath it’s a very serious exposé about the broken American Social Security system.

To put together such sprawling stories, James and Brian create a story outline, determine who the interviewees should be, interview the characters, write a script and then decide where they need to put in animated graphics, archival footage and recreations during the editing process. Talented cinematographer Jeff Dolan has worked with the team for years, shooting both interviews and recreations on The Big Conn and McMillion$. Brian and James planned out and put together a guide for lighting and shot composition for the look of the interviews, based on shots from scripted movies they love.

The Big Conn is a 4-part documentary series currently airing on Apple TV+.

James and Brian have a podcast to accompany The Big Conn, diving deeper into the story and subject matter. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-big-conn-the-official-podcast/id1621583098

Fun Meter, James and Brian’s production company: https://www.funmetermedia.com/
Instagram: @funmeterofficial

James Lee Hernandez: @iamthejlh
Brian Lazarte: @bdlazarte

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep169/

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

May 18, 2022

Cinematographer Eric Koretz on shooting the last season of Ozark and more

Cinematographer Eric Koretz and our host Illya Friedman have known each other a long time, going back to when Eric blogged about the latest camera gear. Since then, Eric has become a very successful DP. His current work can be seen on the last and final season of the Netflix series, Ozark. Eric shot 4 episodes of the last half of the final season, including the show finale, “A Hard Way to Go” directed by Jason Bateman.

Eric loved the look of Ozark, and knew he would have to adapt to the established shooting style of the show. However, he knew that he wanted to bring his own look to it too. Anytime the crew is shooting outside, they begin blocking out the sun, keeping the outdoors very shadowy using negative fill techniques. Eric felt Ozark was a cinematographer’s dream to shoot- they use every tool to tell the story, and the producers allow the cinematographers to do what they wish within the style parameters. The show is shot more like a movie than a TV show, with time allowed to let scenes have space and play out, allowing the DP to shoot a closeup on a glass of whiskey or shoot a long shot out a window as a car pulls up, creating tension. Eric found that Jason Bateman as a director and producer knows exactly what he wants and is very technical and precise as a craftsman.

Eric first went to college for graphic design. He started making animated videos and applied to American Film Institute to learn more about shooting. While at AFI, he discovered that he really enjoyed cinematography and after graduation, began working in commercials. But the idea of storytelling through longer forms of film and television really appealed to Eric. His first feature was Comet with director Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot), and his second feature, Frank & Lola,  went to Sundance. Eric still shoots commercials as well, which is a great place to learn- commercial shoots tend to have a lot more resources, and these days commercials tend to be very creative, artistic and cinematic, with more crossover from film.

Find Eric Koretz: http://erickoretz.com/
Instagram: @erickoretz_dp

See all of the seasons of Ozark on Netflix.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep168/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by DZOFilm: https://www.dzofilm.com/

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

May 11, 2022

Gregory Middleton, ASC, CSC on Moon Knight, shooting reflections and lighting for imaginary characters, Watchmen, Game of Thrones

Cinematographer Greg Middleton’s intention in his work is never to make viewers think, “Oh wow, cool shot!” He wants them to be able to experience the movies or television series he shoots without drawing attention to the cinematography or lighting. For him, the art of cinematography is about making illusions, and convincing audiences that they are actually somewhere else.

Greg was excited to work on episodes 1, 3, 5, and 6 of the series Moon Knight  on Disney+ because it’s more of a personal and emotional journey for the character Marc/Stephen, rather than just the action and the superhero elements. He didn’t know anyone involved in the project before he was hired, which is unusual, but director Mohamed Diab liked Greg’s Emmy-winning work on HBO’s Watchmen, particularly episode 6: “This Extraordinary Being” which dives into the past of Hooded Justice. For Moon Knight, episode 5 needed someone who could handle seamless transitions through multiple scenes in Marc/Stephen’s past life. Greg also had experience from Game of Thrones working quickly in multiple foreign locations with large cast and crews.

There were many challenges for shooting a show like Moon Knight- location work, virtual sets, twinning, and animated characters interacting with real characters. Greg also had to play a lot with reflections and light. Because Marc/Stephen has a form of mental illness called dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality disorder), his personalities often interact through reflective surfaces. Greg and director Mohamed Diab discussed and did extensive testing to figure out how they would make the reflections and successfully shoot them. Greg would move the camera, shoot the reflection one way, then later shoot it again to match it, or do a nodal camera pan, so that the perspective of the character doesn’t really change, but the reflection does. For the museum bathroom scene with infinity mirrors, the visual effects team needed to paint out the camera and boom mic later. Because actor Oscar Issac was playing two different characters with different body language and accents, it was easier for him to play first one character and then the other, and he didn’t usually switch quickly from one character to another. For Marc/Stephen’s interactions with the god Khonshu, they used an actor in costume, adding a pole to make him seem 9 feet tall. Greg also used a very real-looking maquette of Khonshu’s head to establish the proper lighting for the visual effects team to reference. The sets also incorporated small hints of Marc/Stephen’s reality and dream world, so that deciding what is real is always in question.

Find Greg Middleton: http://www.middletondp.com/#vanguard-fest-set
Instagram: @middlecam

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep167/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by ARRI: https://www.arri.com/en

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

April 27, 2022

Cinematographer Eliot Rockett on the period horror film X, working with director Ti West, techniques of shooting horror

Cinematographer Eliot Rockett is a frequent collaborator with Ti West, who is a well known director/writer/editor for horror fans. West and Eliot’s latest film, X, is a classic slasher/horror movie set in 1979, at the time when the popularity of porn movies and slasher films were at their height. With X, West decided to write an erotic horror film that combines elements of both genres. The film is about a group of aspiring filmmakers who head to a remote farm to shoot a porno, but aren’t completely transparent with the elderly couple who owns the property what kind of movie they’re making. Then the bloodbath begins.

Interestingly, Eliot is actually not a big horror fan- he dislikes feeling anxious and tense. But after shooting so many films in this genre, he genuinely appreciates how important the cinematographer is to making a horror movie. In horror, the camera is the instrument that takes the audience through the experience. The camera setups, angles, and lighting choices are incredibly important to setting the tone- more than any other genre. The characters and dialog are usually secondary, unlike dramas or romantic comedies. Eliot first learned some tips about how to shoot a horror film on the movie Crocodile with director Toby Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Hooper explained some of the finer points to creating “seat jumper” moments, based on keeping the camera static and not cutting away.

Eliot and director Ti West also worked together on The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers. West is known for creating a suspenseful slow burn, starting off at a normal pace, then progressively building into a manic frenzy of blood and guts to the end. Eliot has always been involved in the filmmaking process early on, and the two share similar ideas about aesthetics and cinema. They discuss far in advance how the drama is going to unfold and figure out how to achieve those goals. Once shooting begins, Eliot and West work smoothly together because the movie is well understood.

Eliot shot Pearl, the prequel to X, directly after they wrapped X. The production was based in New Zealand in early 2021, still during the height of the COVID pandemic, and it made sense to roll right into pre-production on Pearl and stay longer to shoot the movie, using production crews in New Zealand for both films. Pearl is a completely different sort of horror movie and is almost a musical, with dance numbers and lots of color saturation. Eliot calls it “the best feel bad movie you’ll ever see.”

Eliot Rockett is currently shooting Season 2 of Perry Mason for HBO.

Find Eliot Rockett: https://www.eliotrockett.com/
Instagram: @elrockett and @eliotrockett

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep166/

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

April 20, 2022

DP Jendra Jarnagin on the film Asking For It, tips on working with short prep time, developing a DP/director bond, how to light for women

Jendra Jarnagin returns to The Cinematography Podcast after 7 years to talk about her latest movie, Asking For It, a female vigilante revenge thriller, about women who exact revenge on men who have abused women. First-time director Eamon O’Rourke wanted it to be a female exploitation-style movie without the exploitation, and he and Jendra were influenced by films such as Switchblade Sisters, Belly, True Romance, and Natural Born Killers.

Jendra was hired to work on the low-budget film only three weeks before the shoot, so she had to hit the ground running with a very short amount of prep time. O’Rourke had made a look book, so Jendra used what he created to get herself up to speed. The days were full of casting and scouts, but the evenings were spent as sacred one-on-one time to discuss the film and create the DP/director collaborative bond.

O’Rourke was concerned about the fact that he is a white man telling a story with women of color and their experience with sexual assault. He was open to handling the material with sensitivity and listened to Jendra and the female cast and crew members about how to shoot certain scenes. They gave careful consideration to what the film wanted to say and how to portray the feeling of emotional overwhelm visually.

Jendra also discusses her recent work on a 2020 commercial featuring former First Lady Michelle Obama. It was shot soon after production started returning after COVID lockdowns, and the directors had to work remotely. One of Jendra’s skills is understanding how to light women, and she is very proud of her work on this commercial. She had limited time with Mrs. Obama and knew she would not be able to tweak the lighting again once they were rolling.

Find Jendra Jarnagin: https://www.jendrajarnagin.com/
Instagram: @jendradp

See Asking For It in select theaters and VOD.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep165/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by DZOFilm: https://www.dzofilm.com/

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

February 16, 2022

Catch The Fair One director Josef Kubota Wladyka and actor/screenwriter Kali Reis

Catch the Fair One is about Kaylee “K.O.” Uppashaw, a mixed Indigenous boxer who is searching for her sister, Weeta, who has been missing for two years. K.O. sets off on a dark and dangerous journey as she willingly allows herself to be exploited by a sex trafficking ring to find out what happened to her sister. Catch the Fair One is the second feature for Josef Kubota Wladyka, who has also directed episodes of Narcos, Fear the Walking Dead and The Terror. It’s the acting debut for Kali Reis, who is an Indigenous/Cape Verdean world champion boxer and activist for missing and murdered Indigenous women of North America.

Josef met Kali through a friend’s boxing gym. Watching her train and box helped Josef form an idea for the story of Catch the Fair One and he wanted a collaborative partner who could help shine a light on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. With such dark subject matter, Kali and Josef knew they wanted the film to be a thriller, with themes of pain, loss, and regret that intentionally draws the audience in. Kali enjoyed being a part of the creative writing process. Though she had never written a script before, she feels she drew on her ancestors’ tradition of storytelling and it felt natural. Kali was able to write her own character, building Kaylee from the ground up. Josef and Kali shoot a lot of rough footage, working out different character and script ideas. Kali also trained at an acting boot camp to help her learn acting and character work. Josef felt fortunate to work with Darren Aronofsky, who came on board as executive producer, and he gave Josef feedback on the movie to help bring it into focus.

Find Kali Reis: Instagram: @ko_ndnbxr
Twitter: @KO_Reis86

Catch The Fair One opened February 11th in theaters and on demand. https://www.catchthefairone.movie/

Learn more about Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women: https://www.nativewomenswilderness.org/mmiw

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep159/

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