November 4, 2020

Ross Emery, ACS, on Raised By Wolves, The Matrix movies, Dark City, shooting second unit and more

Cinematographer Ross Emery believes that a director of photography can make beautiful compositions, but if the ideas aren’t transferred to screen, it’s not effective for telling the story. Knowing the intent of the director and the screenwriter is very important for translating the script into images, especially on movies with heavy visual effects.

On his most recent project, Ross shot five episodes of the Ridley Scott sci-fi series, Raised by Wolves for HBO Max. Ross and fellow cinematographers Dariusz Wolski and Erik Messerschmidt each shot episodes of the show. The first third of the series follows the androids “Mother” and “Father” to a new planet. Ross decided to shoot those episodes in the style of an ethnographic documentary, following the inhabitants around in their environment. It seemed a strange way to approach a sci-fi show at first, but Ross felt it aided creator Ridley Scott’s ability to build the world, giving the audience the feeling that they are actually on another planet. Scott wanted the planet to be a harsh and inhospitable landscape, to set it apart from anything Earth-like and chose a location about an hour outside of Cape Town, South Africa.

Ross grew up in Sydney, Australia. His father was a documentary filmmaker, but he wasn’t drawn to filmmaking until he was in his 20’s. He began working in documentaries himself, then transitioned to shooting music videos, where he met director Alex Proyas. Alex then hired Ross to shoot second unit for the film Dark City. Ross found that working second unit was a fantastic place to be- it’s a smaller crew tasked with shooting more action and visual effects sequences, with less oversight and less pressure than being the principal director of photography. After Dark City, Ross was asked to shoot second unit for The Matrix, and met with DP Bill Pope. The storyboards looked amazing, drawn by comic book artist Steve Scroce, and it became a matter of figuring out how to shoot something that hadn’t been done before.  As the second unit DP of The Matrix, Ross was responsible for shooting bullet time, the helicopters, and the fight sequences. In 1998, computer visual effects were not yet advanced enough to truly capture what was shown in the movie. Most of the shots were actually practical effects done with real actors, multiple camera arrays and real bullets. The Matrix was the hardest film he’d ever worked on, and Ross wasn’t even sure if the film would be any good until the crew saw the finished product. Once it was a hit, Ross had a huge budget and every tool at his disposal to shoot sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.

Ross Emery is currently shooting second unit for the upcoming Marvel movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

You can find all episodes of Raised By Wolves on HBO Max.

Find Ross Emery: http://rossemeryacs.com/
Instagram: @rossemeryacs

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep99/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

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July 24, 2019

Ep 40 – Oscar Winner Russell Carpenter, ASC – On Titanic, True Lies, James Cameron, Hard Target, John Woo, Ant-Man and more!

Academy Award winner Russell Carpenter, ASC has a huge Hollywood career that’s spanned decades, though he got his start working in public television and didn’t even go to film school. He discusses his early experience on films like the cult classic “The Wizard of Speed and Time,” “Cameron’s Closet,” and “The Lawnmower Man,” and still enjoys shooting small films like the Indian movie “Parched.” For “Hard Target” with director John Woo, each scene was meticulously timed and shot with multiple cameras. Russell first worked with director James Cameron in 1994 on the film “True Lies” and then again on “Titanic,” which won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. He tells a few stories about the movie tricks he and James Cameron used on “Titanic.” Russell is currently working again with Jim Cameron on Avatar 2 and 3.

July 13, 2019

Ep 39 – Manuel Billeter – Talks the Marvel/Netflix series Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Orange is the New Black and working with Alfonso Cuarón

Manuel Billeter discusses his early career and getting his big break working in post production editing “Y Tu Mama También” for director Alfonso Cuarón, who encouraged him to pursue a path in cinematography. He talks about the high profile series he’s worked on, such as “Law and Order,” and “Person of Interest,” how a show getting canceled or getting fired can lead to better opportunities, working in urban settings with night exteriors and the incredible energy it can generate. When creating the unique noir feel for “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage,” Manuel loved the look of sodium vapor streetlights, but most of New York has converted to LED lights, so each individual streetlight was gelled to get the yellower look.