June 16, 2021

Jeffrey Jur, ASC on shooting Bridgerton, working with Shonda Rhimes, Dirty Dancing, The Big Picture, The Last Seduction, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and more

Cinematographer Jeffrey Jur chose the path of filmmaker not just as a job, but to put something out into the world that he finds personally wonderful and amazing. He sees filmmaking as a way to express what he says to the world visually and photographically. Jeff always tries to find projects that reflect a part of him and keep him creatively inspired.

For the Netflix series Bridgerton, executive producer Shonda Rhimes and the series directors knew the show needed to have a “female gaze” when it came to the sex scenes, emphasizing female pleasure and desire, bringing the series a refreshing, contemporary feel in spite of the historic setting. Jeff had shot several Shondaland projects over the past 20 years, beginning with the pilot for Grey’s Anatomy and the pilot for How To Get Away With Murder. As the DP of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Dirty Dancing, Jeff also had experience with shooting movies from a more feminine perspective. He likes what Shonda Rhimes has to say to the world about relationships and race, and the colorblind alternate history of 1813 presented in Bridgerton. The scripts are written with modern language, and the show had to feel modern but keep true to the Regency-era romantic beauty. He found it very exciting to shoot in England, where the streets and historic houses needed very little alteration to fit the time period, especially around Bath. Jeff’s inspirations for the vibrant, colorful look of Bridgerton included Pride and Prejudice and Stanley Kubrick’s historic movie Barry Lyndon. In fact, one of the locations Bridgerton used, Wilton House, was also used in Barry Lyndon. Much of Bridgerton was lit by candles, natural light, and balloon lights. It was necessary to shoot in historic buildings without touching the ceiling or moving the furniture. Fortunately, the UK crew was used to shooting in many of the locations and knew how to manage the restrictions.

In the mid-1980’s, Jeff had just moved to L.A. from Chicago, getting by shooting shorts and a few dramatic films, when one of the producers for Dirty Dancing saw his work on American Playhouse and hired him as the cinematographer. Jeff had no idea that 1987’s Dirty Dancing would become his big break, and he’s honored to have been a part of something that has become so iconic. It was shot on a very low budget and no one had very high expectations for how successful Dirty Dancing would become. Dance films such as Flashdance and Footloose had done well, but everyone involved in Dirty Dancing wanted the dancing in the movie to be authentic, performed by the actors, not with professional dance doubles, as the audience follows the main character’s journey as she learns how to dance.

Soon after Dirty Dancing, Jeff shot The Big Picture, Christopher Guest’s directorial debut. The Big Picture was a huge flop, but it ended up having a following once it reached home video. The story follows Nick Chapman, a recent film school grad whose short film wins an award- but breaking into Hollywood is not that easy. Jeff loved the film because the plot really spoke to him. Growing up in Chicago, he always had a passion for filmmaking and while in high school, his film won him a scholarship to Columbia Film School. The Big Picture includes many short films, fantasy sequences and student films within the movie which were great fun to shoot.

Jeff switched gears creatively to shoot The Last Seduction, an indie film from the 1990’s that was an homage and reinvention of film noir directed by John Dahl. He went on to shoot romantic comedies How Stella Got Her Groove Back and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which is still the highest grossing romantic comedy in U.S. history.

Jeff began shooting television on the HBO series, Carnivale and he’s found working in TV to be very rewarding. The mid-budget features Jeff used to work on have disappeared, and many of the directors he’s worked with have moved into television, like John Dahl, who brought him on to shoot the Showtime series, Dexter. Jeff thinks the writing for television has gotten incredible, and the storytelling and creative risk-taking is more prevalent in television today than in features.

You can find Jeff Jur on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.jur
Instagram: @jeffjurasc

Jeff is currently shooting season 2 of Bridgerton.

You can watch Bridgerton streaming on Netflix

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep128/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQIhe3yjQJG72EjZJBRI1w
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

June 2, 2021

Jess Hall, ASC, BSC: Marvel’s WandaVision, Hot Fuzz, working with Edgar Wright, Wally Pfister and more

For the Disney+ series WandaVision, cinematographer Jess Hall had the opportunity to create the most avant-garde looking project in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jess explored every era of sitcom television to create seven different looks for WandaVision, ranging from the 1950’s all the way through the 2000’s. Each episode’s look came down to researching the film stock, lenses, aspect ratio, the lighting, and whether it was shot with three cameras or a single camera. WandaVision director Matt Shakman was able to give Jess plenty of sitcom television research material and ideas, since Jess did not grow up around American T.V. One of the biggest visual touchstones for Jess for the earliest episodes of WandaVision was viewing a print from the original negative of the 1960’s show, Bewitched. He found the black and white image to look warmer than modern day black and white- the contrast in the whites weren’t quite as cold. Jess tested a number of vintage lenses and ended up using 47 different lenses over nine episodes, even having Panavision create a set of lenses reconstructed from older lens elements. He also used lighting technology that fit each time period, including early diffusion techniques over the lights to create the look.

Jess grew up in England and studied film at St. Martins School of Art, embracing film more as an expressive art form. After graduating, he began shooting shorts and commercials, and then had the opportunity to shoot his first feature film, Stander, with director Bronwen Hughes. Stander is a biopic about a police officer in apartheid South Africa who becomes a bank robber. Jess’ next film was Son of Rambow, a coming-of-age story about two boys making a home movie. Jess and Son of Rambow director Garth Jennings went to St. Martins together. Jennings carefully storyboarded the whole movie, but once they were actually shooting, they did not strictly follow the storyboards. Jess credits director Edgar Wright with being the most accurate storyboard-to-execution director he’s ever worked with, which is important because Wright likes to work fast with many setups and quick cuts. On the movie Hot Fuzz, Jess accomplished over 30 setups per day, and famously did 50 setups in one day. He would try to light the room simply, and worked with camera operators who were used to shooting fast action movies. For the film Transcendence, cinematographer turned director Wally Pfister asked Jess to shoot his first film as a director, after seeing Jess’ work on Brideshead Revisited. Jess was flattered, and found it wonderful to be able to communicate in a technical shorthand and to see up close how another DP works and thinks.

Find Jess Hall: http://www.jesshalldop.com/
Instagram @metrorat

You can watch WandaVision streaming on Disney+

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep126/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQIhe3yjQJG72EjZJBRI1w
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

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

IT’S A BOOK GIVEAWAY! LAST WEEK to win Don Coscarelli’s book, True Indie: Life and Death in Filmmaking. TO ENTER: SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel, LIKE and COMMENT on the “Don Coscarelli” video version of the podcast we just posted! We will randomly select a winner from the comments. We’re expanding and adding to our YouTube channel, so look for new content there, too! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQIhe3yjQJG72EjZJBRI1w

Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

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.