August 25, 2021

Emmy-nominated Mark Doering-Powell, ASC on grown-ish, challenges of single camera comedies, lighting setup tips, the early days of HD video

When Mark Doering-Powell, ASC was hired as the DP of Freeform’s grown-ish after season one, he knew the show had to expand the storylines of each character’s college experience. He was excited to take more of an anthology approach to some of the episodes, and get creative shooting each chapter with multiple looks.

A single camera half-hour comedy such as grown-ish takes about four days to shoot, creating an extremely tight schedule between prepping and shooting. Mark thinks it’s imperative to be in touch with post and the dailies colorist at the end of each day, so everyone can stay on top of the workload. On a rapid schedule it can be challenging to make the show look cinematic, but finding each character’s point of view helps consolidate the work and keeps each shot economical. Mark favors using “swingles” on grown-ish, where the camera swings back and forth between characters on single shots, saving setup times.

With a focus on each college-age character’s personal life and position on social issues as they navigate their early 20’s, the lighting on grown-ish is intended to make the cast look their best, and sometimes Mark employs classic Hollywood portrait lighting techniques using crisp, controllable hard light. Mark also likes to splash hard light onto the set, letting it naturally bounce off of something that is already in the room. He’s learned to focus on lighting the people and then the space- lighting the space can aid lighting the people.

Mark went to art school in New York, studying painting and graphic design until he found the film department and changed his major to film. He then worked as a Photo-sonics technician, which is a special high speed camera for shooting slow motion, on several commercials in the 1980’s and 90’s. But Mark wanted to focus more on filmmaking, so he quit, moved out to L.A. and started working for Roger Corman’s studio in Venice, including camera assisting on Corman’s famously unreleased 1994 version of The Fantastic Four. A documentary about the production called Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four was made in 2015. 

Find Mark Doering-Powell: www.markdoeringpowell.com
Instagram: @instamdp

You can watch grown-ish Season 4 on Freeform: https://www.freeform.com/shows/grown-ish

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep137/

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

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

August 10, 2021

Cinematographer Flavio Labiano on Jungle Cruise, Timecrimes, Day of the Beast, and more

Cinematographer Flavio Labiano doesn’t consider himself an artist with a capital “A” but more of a craftsperson. To him, cinematography is a craft that you learn by making mistakes and taking risks, like any other craft that you hone and improve over time.

On Disney’s Jungle Cruise, Flavio found the planning and pre-production stages of the huge-scale movie to be especially challenging. It was about 100 days of planning, with two different sets- one in Hawaii and one in Atlanta, Georgia, and with the second unit shooting footage in the Amazon to use as background plates. All the exterior tank work was done in front of a blue screen in a parking lot in Atlanta. The town of Porto Velho, where the jungle cruise adventure begins, was mainly shot in Hawaii. Flavio paid close attention to the orientation of the sun in order to match the set in Hawaii with the set in Atlanta. He also had to match the hard sunlight in the South to the sunlight in Hawaii, and the crew had to deal with the constant interruptions of summer afternoon rainstorms in Georgia. Flavio and Jungle Cruise director, Jaume Collet-Serra, have worked together on several films including The Shallows, another movie that takes place mostly in water.

Flavio grew up in Spain, then moved to Los Angeles to attend AFI. He found his first film jobs working for Roger Corman’s studio alongside Wally Pfister, Phedon Papamichael, and Janusz Kaminski. Flavio moved back to Spain for film work and has made most of his career there with movies such as The Day of the Beast, which was a huge commercial success in Spain, and Timecrimes, an exciting and mind-bending thriller. Shortly after Timecrimes, he and fellow Spaniard, director Jaume Collet-Serra began working together. Influenced by director Alfred Hitchcock, who enjoyed making thrillers with characters who are celebrities, the two made Nonstop and Unknown with Liam Neeson.

You can watch Jungle Cruise on Disney+

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep135/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

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

July 21, 2021

War Stories Vol. 7: Tales from the Set featuring Wally Pfister, Phedon Papamichael, Ross Emery, Shane Hurlbut, Alice Brooks, Robbie Ryan, Christian Sebaldt, Lachlan Milne, Armando Salas, Jas Shelton, and Brandon Trost

Special: The Cinematography Podcast- War Stories Vol. 7

In our seventh War Stories Special, we feature eleven guest’s harrowing, hilarious, heartbreaking or heartwarming stories they had while on set, or a formative career experience that led them to the film industry.

Find full interviews with each of our featured guests in our archives!

Both cinematographers Wally Pfister, ASC and Phedon Papamichael, ASC have war stories about working on Roger Corman films in their early careers; Ross Emery, ACS talks about the groundbreaking experience of shooting bullet time for The Matrix; Shane Hurlbut, ASC on how he was convinced to shoot Drumline; Alice Brooks on how she made her decision to become a DP; Robbie Ryan, BSC, ISC reflects on experiencing personal tragedy while working on The Favourite; Christian Sebaldt, ASC had to get extremely creative with lighting a dim military barracks; Lachlan Milne, ACS, NZCS, on shooting Minari in extreme summer heat; Armando Salas, ASC also has a story on filming in high temperatures; cinematographer Jas Shelton talks about working with actor John C. Reilly on Cyrus; and finally, director and cinematographer Brandon Trost’s story about meeting Lorne Michaels in a pre-production meeting for MacGruber.

Do you have a War Story you’d like to share? Send us an email or reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/warstories7/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Instagram: @thecinepod
Facebook: @cinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

January 5, 2021

Best Of 2020 featuring Bradford Young, Kira Kelly, Greig Fraser, Anthony Dod Mantle, Wally Pfister, Brendan Davis, Don Coscarelli, Frederick Wiseman, Iris Ng, Bruce Van Dusen, Julie Taymor and Ron Howard

In our first-ever Best Of compilation episode, we have a dozen clips of listener favorites from 2020 and some of our selects as well.

Cinematographer Bradford Young goes deep into his filmmaking philosophy and influences, such as on Selma; Kira Kelly talks about making the documentary 13th with director Ava DuVernay; Greig Fraser on Lion, Star Wars and The Mandalorian; Anthony Dod Mantle describes exploring New York City for The Undoing; Wally Pfister on his early career working on Roger Corman movies; Brendan Davis on leaving China as the pandemic hit; director Don Coscarelli remembers working with cinematographer John Alcott on The Beastmaster; legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman talks about his process of assembling his films; cinematographer Iris Ng on making documentaries that are personal narratives; commercial director Bruce Van Dusen tells an anecdote from an Ex-Lax commercial; director Julie Taymor on the visual language of The Glorias; and finally director Ron Howard on directing the documentary Rebuilding Paradise versus his approach to narrative films.

Be sure to check out the full episodes, and let us know what you think!

IT’S A GIVEAWAY! Enter to win Bruce Van Dusen’s book, 60 Stories about 30 Seconds: How I Got Away with Becoming a Pretty Big Commercial Director Without Losing My Soul (or Maybe Just Part of It). Like and comment on our Bruce Van Dusen post on Facebook and we’ll choose a winner from the comments. https://www.facebook.com/cinepod

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/bestof2020/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

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

November 18, 2020

Wally Pfister, director/cinematographer PART 1: working with Christopher Nolan, Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige and more

Wally Pfister grew up loving movies, and couldn’t wait to become a filmmaker. The son of an ABC news journalist, Wally got his start as a news production assistant in Los Angeles, and he worked his way up to become a news cameraman. He attended American Film Institute, where he met fellow filmmakers Janusz Kaminski and Phedon Papamichael. Together they began working for Roger Corman’s Concorde/New Horizons production company based in Venice, CA, cranking out as many as twelve B-movies per year. Wally would leave the studio literally splattered in fake blood, but he knew low-budget filmmaking work was essential for having the freedom to learn lighting and shooting while on the job. Even with his prestigious degree from AFI, Wally knew it didn’t make him a filmmaker- he still needed to learn and hone his craft before moving on to bigger projects. Those opportunities came once Phedon Papamichael brought him on as a camera operator for Phenomenon and While You Were Sleeping.

Wally loved the independent films of the 1990’s, and was happy to work as director of photography for The Hi-Line, a well-received indie feature that won awards at several film festivals. Director Christopher Nolan saw the film, and approached Wally to shoot Memento. Memento blends black and white with color cinematography, to show the main character’s broken memory as he tries to piece together who killed his wife. Nolan had purposefully scripted it so that the color sequences shown in the film are in reverse order while the black and white scenes are chronological. Wally and Chris Nolan both preferred taking a naturalistic approach to lighting and camerawork, and Wally’s experience of working fast enabled them to shoot in just 25 days.

Insomnia was a big jump for Wally and Christopher Nolan into a bigger budget movie, especially with stars such as Al Pacino and Robin Williams attached. This time, Wally had the budget, the time and the ability to make a great movie. Insomnia uses light rather than darkness as a way to build tension- it takes place in midsummer Alaska, when the sun never sets. Wally used key lighting in certain scenes to enhance the performance of Pacino, whose detective character is quite literally hiding from the light, as his guilt and exhaustion spirals down into madness.

The next project Christopher Nolan and Wally collaborated on was a huge Hollywood movie: Batman Begins, which relaunched the Batman franchise after nearly ten years. Even though Batman is a superhero/comic book movie, Nolan still wanted to take a gritty and naturalistic approach- he never wanted the cinematography to get in the way. Wally kept the movie dark and rough, rather than glossy and stylized in contrast to the previous Batman movies. Very little of Batman Begins used computer generated visual effects- Chris Nolan prefers to do all effects in-camera when possible and used models and miniatures, as in the train derailment sequence.

For The Prestige, the production crew scouted locations in Los Angeles, and found old theaters and the Universal backlot to make it seem like Europe at the turn of the century. Again, Nolan wanted The Prestige to look natural and loose, with much of the film hand-held, even when Wally was on a crane. Wally used lanterns and natural light to illuminate most scenes, and every magic trick was done in-camera, with no special effects. The Prestige earned Wally his first Academy Award nomination.

Listen for Wally Pfister, Part 2, coming next week! He talks about Inception, Moneyball, The Dark Knight Rises, Trancendence and more!

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep101/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

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

April 29, 2020

Carlos González, SVC on working for Roger Corman, Raw Justice, Mutant Species, shooting films vs. TV series, Grey’s Anatomy, Party of Five and becoming a director

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 73: Carlos González

Venezuelan-born cinematographer Carlos González graduated with a degree in architecture before attending film school at AFI in Los Angeles. While attending architecture school, he designed some film sets, and still enjoys collaborating closely with production designers. Carlos says that the experience of discovery when walking into a room as a cinematographer is very similar to the way an architect thinks, but focused on lighting placement and camera movements rather than walls and doors. Carlos started out making low-budget films for Roger Corman with director David Prior such as Raw Justice and Mutant Species. Working on low-budget films enabled him to become “the fast guy” and to develop a quick, basic lighting scheme for each film, a skill he was able to take with him into television series work. He’s shot many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and the remake of Party of Five on Freeform. In the past few years, Carlos has moved into directing, and he is currently in postproduction on a family-friendly movie, The Kid Who Only Hit Homers.

You can see the new Party of Five on Freeform. https://freeform.go.com/shows/party-of-five

Find Carlos González: https://www.gonzalez-svc.com/

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep73/

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

December 3, 2019

M. David Mullen, ASC: Emmy-winning cinematographer for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, films Twin Falls Idaho, Northfork, and more

David Mullen got his start making straight-to-video low-budget genre movies. He went on to shoot six films with Michael and Mark Polish, including Twin Falls Idaho and Northfork. David’s cinematography on the Amazon show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel recently earned him an Emmy award. Season 3 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel begins December 6th on Amazon Prime.