January 17, 2024

Napoleon cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, ASC

Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, ASC has worked with director Ridley Scott on nine different films. He loves working with Scott because he’s extremely self-assured, not afraid to take chances, and always pushes the envelope. On the last day of their shoot for House of Gucci in Italy, Scott said to Dariusz, “You know, we’re in Rome, we’re so close to Malta, we should just hop on a plane and look at some locations. Why don’t we just go there to scout locations?” Confused, Daruisz said, “For what?” “For Napoleon.” Dariusz says, “That’s how that happened, it wasn’t ‘let’s make a big epic.’ And it was quite nice because Malta, which is a big part of the film, it was very special for him because that’s where he shot the original Gladiator, so we actually revisited all the sets that were very familiar to him.”

Scott did use a lot of the same locations he’d used for Gladiator for the late 1700’s era of Napoleon. After they’d settled on their shooting locations, Daruisz began looking at an abundance of references available from the Napoleonic era. “There’s just as many versions of Napoleon as you can imagine. So, we’re not trying to make a historical film. But cinematically, you just load yourself with as many references as possible,” says Dariusz. They also relied on historical consultants, and experts on warfare from the period. Napoleon was known as a brilliant strategist, so it was important to understand some of the famous battle campaigns he had led. Coordinating the battle scenes was like shooting a rock concert- with 500 extras and 250 horses. They used 11 cameras for the battle scenes, plus a drone, and a small digital camera (the DJI Osmo Pocket) that a stunt person carried on horseback. Dariusz credits pulling off the battle sequences with Scott’s extensive experience. “He has tremendous experience and he’s done so many battles. He really understands what matters, what doesn’t,” he says.

Lighting for the non-battle scenes was trickier when shooting in historic locations. The sun and cloud cover for natural light would be intermittent in England, requiring some extra coverage, though it didn’t trouble Scott very much. Indoors, Daruisz used a combination of a big window light, fire light and real candlelight. He wanted the lighting to reflect the most flattering portraits of Napoleon. As a film reference, Daruisz was also influenced by the Stanley Kubrick film Barry Lyndon,  which was primarily lit with candles. “That was a revolutionary movie, that was a masterpiece. We were trying to do that too, and keep the shots very simple- a big wide shot, couple of close-ups, just nothing fancy.”

Napoleon is available on Apple TV+ and on VOD.

Find Dariusz Wolski: Instagram @dariusz_wolski_official

Listen to our previous interview with Dariusz Wolski from 2021 about News of the World, The Crow, Dark City, and more. https://www.camnoir.com/ep118/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

October 12, 2022

Charlie Sarroff, cinematographer of the horror films Smile and Relic

Cinematographer Charlie Sarroff loves to shoot horror movies, and he knew when he read the script for the horror film, Smile, that it would be fun, gory and dark. This week (10/12/2022) Smile is still the number one movie in America, with the biggest opening of September and the highest box office take overall for its second straight week. Charlie and Smile director Parker Finn first met at a SXSW event, where each had movies showing at the festival. They found they had similar tastes and sensibilities. Finn loved Charlie’s previous work on the horror film Relic and asked Charlie to be Smile’s cinematographer. Movies such as The Ring, It Follows and Rosemary’s Baby were big influences on their approach to Smile. Charlie chose to build a sense of suspense with camera movement, so the audience feels as though a lurking presence was there at all times. They almost exclusively used wide lenses and no over the shoulder shots so that the character of Rose would always feel isolated. Every scene Rose is in, she is meant to feel disconnected from other people. Smiles were also a big motif in the film, of course, and served as a metaphor for the masks everyone wears.

As a kid, Charlie really loved skateboarding and video production became a big part of it. He had a camcorder and recorded skate videos of his friends. Charlie knew early on that he enjoyed shooting and editing more than directing, and he decided to go to film school in Melbourne. Friends in film school asked him to shoot their movies and he worked his way up, filming music videos and commercials. Charlie’s biggest break came when director Natalie Erika James asked him to shoot her short film Creswick which she expanded into the feature film Relic and was picked up by IFC. At first, the film’s backers wanted to go with someone more experienced to shoot Relic, but Charlie prevailed and the film ended up going to Sundance and SXSW.

Find Charlie Sarroff: https://charliesarroff.com/
Instagram: @charlie_sarroff

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep187/

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

May 12, 2021

Seamus McGarvey, ASC on HBO’s The Nevers, Flying Saucer Rock ‘n’ Roll, Bad Times at the El Royale, Harry Dean Stanton, Oliver Stone and more

Seamus McGarvey is drawn to character-driven stories and loves how the camera studies the face in a very particular way. Even when shooting action-packed shows such as The Nevers, Marvel’s The Avengers, or the Oliver Stone film, World Trade Center, Seamus stays focused on the characters and uses a naturalistic approach to his composition.

The Nevers was Seamus’ first extensive experience working on a television series. He had only shot TV episodes here and there, such as “Nosedive,” a favorite episode of Black Mirror, starring Bryce Dallas Howard. For Seamus, shooting a television series was a much faster production schedule and made him think with economy. The Nevers creator Joss Whedon wanted the show to have a contemporary edge, but set in Victorian times, about people known as “The Touched” who suddenly develop supernatural, superhero-like abilities. Fortunately, they had a long preproduction prep time for the action-packed series, which made for a close-knit, collaborative and well-prepared crew. Seamus also worked closely with the second unit, who shot the numerous stunts in The Nevers. He was also able to use some old-school camera tricks for Primrose, a character who’s a giant. Seamus had to double the actor’s actual height with forced perspective, used a slightly slow-motion camera, and the aid of some special effects, making sure that the lighting stayed consistent between the normal-sized shots and the giant shots.

From an early age, cinema as an art form always fascinated Seamus. He was excited to work on a tiny throwback short film in the late 1990’s called Flying Saucer Rock ‘n’ Roll, which is a spoof of black and white sci-fi B movies. It’s still his favorite film, because it’s so full of invention, charm and joy. Seamus went back home to shoot it in Ireland, even after he’d already established his career with several feature films, and they shot it for no money. Steven Spielberg even saw it, loved it, and invited the director, Enda Hughes to meet with him to develop something at Amblin.

Seamus also enjoyed working with director and writer Drew Goddard on Bad Times at the El Royale. The set for the movies was completely built from scratch, which enabled the crew to build in practical light sources and be involved in the design from the beginning. The camera was able to move all over the set and look in all directions. Bad Times is a mystery puzzle movie that all fits together in the end, and Seamus used many visual cues of double images, mirrors and the camera peering through the lattice work to hint at all the character’s hidden secrets.

Because of his love of natural photography, Seamus also enjoys shooting documentaries, such as Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction, about the legendary actor Harry Dean Stanton. He occasionally uses documentary sensibilities in narrative film as well. In We Need To Talk About Kevin, director Lynn Ramsay and Seamus went with actor Tilda Swinton’s idea to spontaneously shoot in the rain as part of a flashback scene.

Seamus is currently in post-production on Cyrano, his latest production with director Joe Wright.
You can see The Nevers streaming on HBOMax. https://www.hbo.com/the-nevers

Find Seamus on Instagram @seamiemc & Twitter:@mcseamus

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep124/
Hear our previous interview with Seamus McGarvey: https://www.camnoir.com/ep37/

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