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

February 9, 2022

Academy award winning cinematographer Linus Sandgren, FSF, ASC on No Time To Die and Don’t Look Up

Acclaimed cinematographer Linus Sandgren just happens to have two Oscar nominated films out right now- the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die and the Adam McKay satire, Don’t Look Up. Both films are extremely different from each other, and Linus was excited to work on both. Linus says that working on a Bond film is about creating a heightened reality, escapist adventure that romanticizes action and espionage. Don’t Look Up is also about creating a type of heightened reality, but in an absurd, satirical way that tells the truth.

Linus was very excited to shoot No Time to Die with director Cary Joji Fukunaga. Linus always tries to find a story and script that he hasn’t done before, and it was a new challenge for him to take on a film with so much action. They focused on making it their own Bond, rather than looking at previous James Bond films. No Time to Die even begins differently from past Bond films- instead of an action set piece, Linus and Fukunaga chose to create a horror movie feeling in the opening. For the opening sequences of No Time to Die, Linus set the creepy tone, choosing monochromatic grays and icy blue skies, and a very isolated location. By contrast, the very next action sequence featuring Bond is full of harsh bright sun washed in yellows and browns. For every film Linus shoots, he likes to have keywords for the emotions in the script to guide him in prep for different scenes, such as horror, grief, loss, humor, etc. and decides how to address those emotions visually. Linus and Fukunaga also discussed the expectations of a Bond film: an entertaining action-packed joyride, but still have No Time To Die act as a final chapter wrapping up Daniel Craig’s arc as James Bond.

Don’t Look Up is a disaster-movie satire film directed by Adam McKay. Linus felt the script was terrific and horrific at the same time, and it was clear to him that McKay wanted to comment on how people’s personal and political agendas cause them to ignore glaring problems, such as climate change, and hijack the actual solution that could save lives. Linus felt like it was an important and hilarious film to shoot. He decided that the visuals should feel like a political thriller, because the comedy and satire would come through in the writing. Linus would dolly in to create tension, use longer zooms to compress the shots, then go close up with a macro lens in order to get right on a character’s eyes. The shoot required a lot of extras, which was made even more challenging with COVID protocols. Linus had to be creative to figure out how to shoot with fewer extras, using longer lenses so the physical distancing wouldn’t be as apparent, and they often re-used the same actors in different scenes since they were in a quarantine bubble together.

Find Linus Sandgren: Instagram @linussandgren_dp

You can purchase and stream No Time to Die on AppleTV, Amazon, Vudu, or your preferred service. Don’t Look Up is available on Netflix.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep158/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Sponsored by Arri: https://www.arrirental.com/en

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

January 26, 2022

Cinematographer Ari Wegner, ACS on shooting The Power of the Dog, working with director Jane Campion

Ari Wegner, ACS became a fan of director Jane Campion after seeing her short films in high school. Seeing those films opened Ari’s eyes to the possibilities of choosing filmmaking as a career. Several years later, she had an opportunity to work with Campion on a commercial in Sydney, Australia and found they shared a similar working aesthetic. Campion contacted her next about shooting The Power of the Dog, and wanted to work closely with Ari on prepping the film over the course of a year. Most DPs only have a few weeks to meet with the director, location scout, and prep the film. They began with location scouting in New Zealand, Campion’s home country, searching for the right mountains as the backdrop. The Power of the Dog takes place in 1920’s Montana, so finding the right location to build an entire ranch set was also important. Ari and Campion agreed that the colors in the film should reflect the natural environment of cattle, sun, dust, golden grass, and brown leather. The color palette was key to unifying the look of the film, from the costumes to even the color of the cows.

Ari and Campion spent the last month before the shoot storyboarding every scene, in a cabin closer to the set. As the set was being built, they would go to the location and walk through it to figure out if the shots were going to work. The ranch house exterior was built on location, while the interiors were built on a stage. The script also required knowing exactly where the actor’s eyelines would be as the characters stalk and spy on each other, so Ari needed to know the layout of the house very well so that the shots lined up just right. Campion always uses storyboards as plan A, and is open to things changing once the actors physically embody the characters and find their own unique moments and flow. Ari often filmed handheld in order to move in on the actor’s faces to capture the quiet moments, expressions and unsaid private thoughts of each character.

Ari’s work on The Power of the Dog was just nominated for an ASC Award.

Find Ari Wegner: https://luxartists.net/ari-wegner/
Instagram: @ariwegner

You can see The Power of the Dog on Netflix

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep156/

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 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

January 19, 2022

Quyen Tran, ASC, on directing and shooting episodes of the Netflix limited series Maid

Cinematographer Quyen Tran, ASC enjoys telling stories that are compelling and have impact and meaning. Q’s previous work on the show Unbelievable led showrunner Molly Smith Metzler and executive producer John Wells to ask her to shoot Maid, a limited series for Netflix. Maid deals with the complex issues of poverty, domestic abuse, the working poor, addiction, single parenthood and mental health. With amazing performances by Margaret Qualley, Andi McDowell and young actor Rylea Nevaeh Whittet, the series handles all of these heavy and heartbreaking issues with sensitivity, peppered with moments of levity and joy.

For Q, shooting Maid was incredible, and incredibly challenging. It was her first job during the pandemic, beginning in August of 2020, and the crew had to quarantine for two weeks in Victoria, British Columbia, wear masks, get frequent COVID tests and follow strict COVID protocols. Quyen thought she would only do the pre-production and shoot the pilot because she didn’t want to leave her family for very long.

Quyen shot extensive tests for the look of Maid. She knew it would be primarily handheld, which creates intimacy and forces a personal perspective on the viewer. Q decided she wanted to use the Alexa Mini and Panaspeed lenses because of the vintage, soft look, and they allow for close camera to subject distance. As part of the pre-production process, Q created a look book for the whole series that the other DPs could pick up and reference.

After shooting the pilot, Q returned to Los Angeles. Then, right after the holidays, director/executive producer John Wells asked Quyen to come back and direct episode eight of Maid. Although Q had a little bit of experience directing, it was very scary for her to even think about directing in a narrative format. She never went into filmmaking to become a director, and never had the desire to be one. But she knew she could do it because she was so familiar with the characters and the story. As both DP and operator on the show, Q already had a rapport with the actors, but now as a director, it was about discussing the motivation of why their characters were doing certain actions. She also had to keep three year old actor Rylea Whittet engaged with the action. As Maddy, single mom Alex’s daughter, Rylea is in nearly every scene and Q often entertained her with piggyback rides and games. For her directorial episode, Quyen camera prepped everything and storyboarded the entire episode. One of the most visually interesting and challenging elements in the episode Q directed is the couch that literally pulls Alex in and swallows her. Q and the production designer worked together for about three weeks to create the couch that Alex could sink right into and disappear.

During the pandemic and in their down time, Quyen and her friend and fellow DP, Jeanne Tyson, found a passion for making sourdough bread. They started Doughrectors of Photography and in exchange for a donation to the LA Food Bank or other charity, patrons receive bread, cookies or other goodies. You can check out Doughrectors of Photography and find out how you can donate and get some delicious baked goods on Instagram at @doughrectorsofphotography

Find Quyen Tran: https://www.qtranfilms.com/
Instagram: @qgar

You can see Maid on Netflix

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep155/

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 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

December 8, 2021

Jeff Cronenweth, ASC on Being the Ricardos, working with Aaron Sorkin, shooting a 1950s period film

Jeff Cronenweth, ASC understands that creating a period piece such as the film, Being the Ricardos, involves lighting and set design, period costumes, hair and makeup styles, and of course, positioning the camera. For today’s more sophisticated and contemporary audiences, everything must be shot in a more dynamic way than in the staid 1950’s style. Jeff and director Aaron Sorkin had the TV show I Love Lucy to work from as well as photographs from the I Love Lucy set, which were invaluable for recreating scenes for the movie. They also watched films that take place in the 1950’s such as LA Confidential, Carol, and Peggy Sue Got Married, to see how those filmmakers approached the time period, while carefully crafting their own unique vision of what 1952 looked like. Jeff created four looks for the time periods within Being the Ricardos: 1952, where most of the story takes place; contemporary interviews from the mid-90’s by the story’s narrators; the 1940’s with flashbacks to when Lucy and Desi first met; and then black and white footage paying homage to I Love Lucy that represents what is going on in Lucy’s imagination. For the black and white sequences, Jeff embraced the theatrical “fashion noir” look using a starlight/hard light method for portrait photography from that time period.

Jeff and director Aaron Sorkin had previously worked together on The Social Network for just one scene. Being the Ricardos was their first real opportunity to collaborate for a longer amount of time. Aaron Sorkin is known for crafting fast and complex back and forth dialog, and his writing style was similar for Being the Ricardos- tight, structured, and well thought out with brilliant dialog. Jeff found Sorkin’s script created a sturdy framework for the entire movie- when the script is really confident and solid, everyone else on the film has a clear map of how and where they can be creative within those parameters. As the cinematographer, Jeff knew the actors would have fast, overlapping lines and were on an emotional roller coaster as they navigate through a crisis. He used lenses with a very close focus to give the feel that the characters were in a world that made them feel vulnerable and alone. He decided to use as much contrast as possible, balancing light and dark throughout the movie while still creating richness and depth with points of light in the background.

Being the Ricardos is in theaters December 10 and will be on Amazon Prime Video December 21, 2021

Find Jeff Cronenweth: https://www.ddatalent.com/client/jeff-cronenweth-asc-narrative

Instagram: #jeffcronenweth

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep150/

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 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

November 30, 2021

Eduard Grau, ASC on shooting Passing, working with director Rebecca Hall, A Single Man with director Tom Ford, shooting Buried

Cinematographer Eduard Grau, ASC thinks it’s important to take risks in filmmaking because it sparks creativity and passion for what you’re doing. Passing director Rebecca Hall had worked with Edu on several films as an actor, and trusted him to bring his creative skill to her first directorial project. Based on the 1929 novel by Nella Larsen, Hall had been trying to get the movie made for several years. She held firm on her vision from the beginning that Passing would be a black and white film, and she wanted it to be in the square 4:3 aspect ratio as a throwback to the movies of the 1930’s time period, so that the characters were more intimately centered in the frame. Edu was excited to work on such an exceptional film, in which cinematography is so integral to both the look of the film and the storytelling narrative.

Passing explores race and identity in the lives of two former friends who reconnect in late 1920’s Harlem. Ruth Negga’s character Clare is passing as white while Tessa Thompson’s character Irene is a respected member of the black community. Hall wanted the film to feel very restrained, as the characters are feeling under constant scrutiny, and the story is told mainly through the women’s faces. Edu kept the shots close and intimate, with very natural lighting.

Edu grew up in Spain and became interested in cinematography in high school. He went to film school in Barcelona and the UK. He made a short film that went to Cannes, then had a chance meeting with a producer at the Edinburg Film Festival. She passed his reel to Tom Ford who needed just the right DP to shoot A Single Man. Ford saw exactly what he was looking for in Edu’s reel and asked him to fly out to the U.S. It was Edu’s first movie on 35mm, his first movie in the United States, and his first movie with such big movie stars. After A Single Man, Edu went on to shoot Buried starring Ryan Reynolds, whose character is buried alive. He loved the challenge of shooting Buried in an interesting way with such extremely limited space constraints.

You can watch Passing on Netflix.

Find Edu Grau: http://www.edugrau.com/
Instagram: @eduardgrau

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep149/

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

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

July 28, 2021

Cinematographer Adam Bricker on shooting the Emmy-nominated series Hacks, Chef’s Table and more

One of Adam Bricker’s favorite things about being a cinematographer is the opportunity to collaborate with different filmmakers, try something new and make each project the best it can be. His most recent project is the HBO Max comedy series Hacks, which just earned him an Emmy nomination for best cinematography. Adam was given the scripts for the first two episodes, and loved the pilot script, which opens with a long Steadicam single shot following behind the main character, Deborah Vance, played by Jean Smart, for two minutes, until her character is finally revealed in the dressing room vanity mirror. Adam knew it’s a rare thing to find a half-hour comedy with that level of cinema, and he was excited to shoot the show. Hacks takes place in Las Vegas, about a legendary comedian who is losing relevance and fading from the spotlight. Adam and show creator Lucia Aniello used vintage Las Vegas movies and photos as a reference point, as well as films such as Soderberg’s Behind The Candelabra and Judy with Renée Zellweger. Adam likes to set the look based on how the viewer is supposed to feel, and he makes notes in his scripts about what emotions should be felt in each scene. Most of Hacks is filmed on tripods and dollies, but for the verbal duels between characters Deborah Vance and Ava, her young comedy writer/protégé, Adam chose to shoot handheld, which gives those scenes more energy and naturalism. Lighting on the show goes from naturalistic, when Deborah is at home or when Ava is in Los Angeles, contrasted with vintage glamorous stage lighting when Deborah performs her comedy act.

Adam grew up in Chicago and attended film school there before attending the USC summer cinema program, which inspired him to transfer to USC and continue studying cinematography. After college, Adam began taking as many jobs as he could, and planned to work his way up through the camera department, before a DP mentor suggested he buy a camera and take as many cinematography jobs as possible. He and a group of friends invested in a Red One digital camera, and Adam shot dozens of music videos and low-budget films.

The Netflix series Chef’s Table has taken Adam all over the world. As one of the primary DPs of Chef’s Table, Adam and show creator David Gelb have established the artistic look of the modern cuisine documentary, which has since been imitated by countless other food shows. When the show began, Adam had never shot a documentary before, so he had a more cinematic approach to the show, only using prime lenses and no zoom lenses. For him, it’s been a dream job to explore new places, eat amazing food at excellent restaurants and work with good friends on the crew.

Find Adam Bricker: https://adambricker.com
Instagram: @realadambricker

You can see Hacks on HBO Max.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep133/

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 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

May 5, 2021

Randy Thom, Oscar-winning Director of Sound Design at Skywalker Sound, on The Midnight Sky, Apocalypse Now, The Right Stuff, The Empire Strikes Back, and more

Randy Thom feels it’s important for the sound elements of a film to be present right from the start, at the script writing stage. Sound is an important tool for a filmmaker because it “sneaks into the side door to your brain” and enhances the emotional impact of the film. As George Lucas once told Randy, sound is 50% of the movie experience. After working in the sound department on over 150 projects and winning two Oscars, Randy has helped elevate motion picture sound into an art form, and is often involved in the creative process right from the beginning. He thinks it’s important for the sound production mixer to be as involved in preproduction with the director as the DP and production designer are, in order to think about the sound possibilities within the movie.

Randy stumbled into sound design later in life, starting out in college radio, then moving to the Bay Area in the 1970’s to work professionally in public radio. Once he saw the movie Star Wars, it changed his life, and Randy decided he really wanted to transition from radio into film. Through a friend, he managed to get in touch with Walter Murch, who worked as a sound designer at Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope Studios. He sat in on a remixing session of American Graffiti, and Walter Murch next hired him to work on Apocalypse Now as a field sound recordist, where he spent his time recording sound for a year and a half. Randy began working in sound at a time when Northern California filmmakers George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola and Phil Kaufman had a shared philosophy that fresh sounds should be collected for each project.

Each movie should have its own sound style, which can be difficult to articulate to a director, much as a cinematographer talks to the director about the visual style. Sound styles are audio look books for your ears. For example, when Randy created the auditory experience for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he had to think about what elements would create the sounds of magic, which had to be based in the natural world. Things disappear and reappear through the transporter in a Star Trek movie as well, but the sound style is distinctly electronic and digital. The sounds used for a transporter would be jarring in a Harry Potter movie.

After Apocalypse Now, Randy was asked to record sound effects for Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back with supervising sound editor Ben Burtt. They needed to find the right sound elements for the Imperial Walkers. Randy found metal factories through the phone book, and was able to go record metal sheer noise from the factory in person. The metal noises Randy recorded comprise about 90% of the Imperial Walker sound effect.

For the Robert Zemeckis movie Contact, sound plays an important role. Jodie Foster’s character, a scientist listening for alien life in the universe, finally hears an alien signal. Randy and Zemeckis had to decide what that extraterrestrial signal would sound like. As the sound designer, Randy had input in preproduction early on and gave Zemeckis his take on how much sound to use in the visual sequences traveling through space.

There was little dialog in the film The Midnight Sky, so Randy could collaborate closely with composer Alexandre Desplat. Randy integrated radio signal sounds with the score, so that it would sound interesting but not conflict harmonically with the music. For the dramatic ice breaking sequence in the film, they knew they needed an organic, natural sound, so he accessed the sound library at Skywalker Sound, using several types of ice breaking, even reaching out through contacts to find sound recordists who could get the raw recordings of breaking ice that were then layered and pitch manipulated to help them stand out and not just become background noise.

You can see The Midnight Sky streaming on Netflix.

Read Randy Thom’s tips for sound design on his blog: https://randythomblog.wpcomstaging.com/

Find Randy on Twitter: @randythom

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep123/

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