May 8, 2024

Late Night with the Devil cinematographer Matthew Temple, ACS

The critically acclaimed horror movie Late Night With the Devil blends found-footage, mockumentary and 1970s late-night television into a movie with genuine scares. Cinematographer Matthew Temple, ACS used shaky camerawork, close-ups, and multiple video sources to add to the feeling of watching “behind the scenes” documentary found footage. Though they didn’t use vintage tube cameras for the 1970’s TV look, Matt and the camera operators used studio pedestal bases or a crane for the cameras. “Right from the get-go, (directors Cameron and Colin Cairnes) came at me with this word, ‘verisimilitude,’ which means to make something feel real.” says Matt. “And that was kind of the seed for the television show.”

During the preproduction period on Late Night with the Devil, the Cairnes brothers gave Matt a lookbook that they’d created referencing documentaries from the time. Matt had honed his craft on Australian TV shows like Comedy Inc., a sketch comedy show that spoofed movies and TV shows. He learned how to deconstruct a movie and replicate a specific look. Matt used the same approach for the film and watched several late night talk shows from the 1970’s to get the visual aesthetic right. As he learned and took notes, Matt made an extensive document setting out rules for the camera crew to follow to keep the look authentic. Using the studio pedestal bases and cranes were key, with Sony Venice cameras in 4K mode with Fujinon zooms. “We had three pedestal cameras. They were new Venices, but nonetheless they were on pedestals. Each operator had to do their own focus and zoom and trucking up the pedestals in shot. I was careful to hire two camera operators who really knew what they were doing with studio cameras because the last time I did that was 35 years ago.” Matt himself acted as the third camera operator. He would brief the other camera operators in preproduction, break down the scene, and map out how all the cameras would work together. It was critical that the cameras always have a logic and placement and appear to be moving together.

Growing up in Australia, Matt was impressed with the Australian movie Mad Max as a teenager. After studying some photography and stage production, he got a trainee job at ABC Television in Sydney. He slowly worked his way up as an assistant, operator, Steadicam operator and DP in Australian television. Late Night with the Devil is Matt’s first feature film as a cinematographer. He previously worked with directors Cameron and Colin Cairnes as a Steadicam operator on their first feature, 100 Bloody Acres. Matt thinks Australia is its own independent film and TV powerhouse because of their ability to innovate and work with very small budgets.

Find Matthew Temple:
Instagram @dpwolfie

Late Night with the Devil is still playing in some theaters and is available on Shudder and VOD.

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July 12, 2023

Star Trek: Picard and Schmigadoon! Cinematographer Jon Joffin, ASC

Jon Joffin, ASC has learned the importance of staying creative, committed and inspired during shoots. In his long career as a cinematographer, Jon has learned how to work on a team, manage people, and surround himself with those who really care about their craft.

When he was first starting out, Jon was hired as a second unit camera operator on The X-Files. Prior to that, he had only worked on music videos and smaller films. The X-Files was a huge show at the time, and Jon quickly moved up to DP for several episodes. The dark and bold look was extremely cinematic, with its signature scenes of bobbing flashlights in the dark woods. The X-Files search for dark secrets set it apart from most high-key sitcoms and workplace dramas that were popular at the time, and it opened up many new opportunities for Jon’s career.

For the series Star Trek: Picard Season 3, the series creators decided they wanted a big, rich cinematic look for the show. In the previous two seasons, the ship had been lit overhead with sky panels, giving it a flatter look. Jon chose bigger, softer light sources and fewer cameras that could focus on the faces of the well-known actors who were reuniting from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He wanted to get good close-ups that would capture their performances and their ease of working together. It was also important to make it look and feel like a realistic spacecraft and not a set. The crew rebuilt the Starship Enterprise set for the show, and it needed to be lit in a similar way that people remembered from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Jon brightened up the lights on that set so that it was a closer match to the original Enterprise.

The Apple TV+ series Schmigadoon! is about a couple who gets lost while backpacking and find themselves in a magical world of musical theater. Season Two finds the couple trying to get back to Schmigadoon, but they end up in Schmicago instead. Jon was excited to work on Schmigadoon! Season 2, because he loves musicals and had previously shot one called Julie and the Phantoms. Schmigadoon! season 2 is based on darker musicals than season 1, such as Chicago, Cabaret and Sweeney Todd, interspersed with 70’s musicals Godspell and Hair. Jon met with showrunner Cinco Paul, who wrote the Despicable Me and Minions movies and who wrote the songs and scripts for season 2. They decided to use a bright, Technicolor look, with a soft contrast, while also working in darker, vibrant tones for the more harrowing musicals.

Jon Joffin just received an Emmy nomination for his work on Schmigadoon! Season 2. You can find it on Apple TV+

Star Trek: Picard is on Paramount Plus

Find Jon Joffin:
Instagram: @jonjoffin

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