October 4, 2023

Silo cinematographer Mark Patten, BSC

Cinematographer Mark Patten, BSC’s most recent project, Silo, is a post-apocalyptic science fiction drama that’s been a huge success for AppleTV+. The thousands of people who live in the silo don’t know why the silo exists, who built it, or why the world outside is uninhabitable. Citizens who express a desire to go outside, or are convicted of a crime, are sent outside to “clean” the cameras and never survive. After being recruited as the new silo sheriff, engineer Juliette starts to uncover shocking secrets and the truth about the silo.

Silo was shot in Essex, England in a huge former cold storage facility. The set had to be completely built out, retrofitting the space into a working film stage. Lighting rigs were hung even before the sets were built so that the set building and production design crew could see in such a huge dark space. The production crew built three working levels of the actual silo set, complete with the spiral staircase. Mark found the richness of the set decoration created a lived-in, worn down place that made the silo itself seem like a character. Everything is very analog or “lo-fi sci-fi” in this dystopian world. It was interesting to think about how society would act together, in a closed vessel, and maintain their sanity in a locked in culture, especially after just coming out of the pandemic. Mark thought of the Silo as a slow ship moving through time, and it felt like shooting a submarine film. The central staircase acts as a helix through the society of the silo, and Juliette is climbing her way up through the layers of it to solve a mystery.

Mark worked alongside production designer Gavin Bocquet to visualize the Silo’s society, honing in and letting the visuals sing. He decided to subtly use different color palettes for each level. It was a great way to add texture to the images, with the mechanical level becoming very desaturated, except for some touches of bright yellow and orange glow from the heat of the power generators. Since the silo is a mile down into the ground, there is no natural light at all, and Mark needed to figure out what would motivate the light all the way at the bottom. He decided the lighting in the top of the silo would be strongest, and the light would filter down from there. Practical lights were built in everywhere throughout the set and as characters descend to the lowest level of mechanical, the practical lights are the only source. Since every light source was designed and built in, there was no hard light anywhere to manipulate, so for Mark it was an exercise in restraint manipulating reflective light.

Mark recently finished shooting Season 2 of Andor on Disney+.

Silo is available to stream on AppleTV+.

Find Mark Patten: https://www.markpatten.tv/
Instagram: @kiesh

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August 9, 2023

Cabinet of Curiosities cinematographer Anastas Michos, ASC, GSC

Cinematographer Anastas Michos ASC, GSC humbly calls himself a journeyman cinematographer. However, after 25 years and multiple awards, Anastas possesses expert skill and versatility that can be seen across all genres. Most recently, Anastas was nominated for an Emmy for “The Autopsy,” an episode of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities anthology TV series on Netflix.

Del Toro selected the directors for each episode of Cabinet of Curiosities, and he chose idiosyncratic directors who brought their own sensibilities to each piece. Anastas had worked with “The Autopsy” director David Prior before on a horror film called The Empty Man, and they enjoyed collaborating together again. Anastas enjoyed working on Cabinet of Curiosities because it felt like making a short film rather than a TV show, with each piece a crafted short story rather than a serialization. For a consistent look, each episode used the same production designer, Tamara Deverell,  who also did the production design for del Toro’s Nightmare Alley. While shooting the episode, Anastas was always conscious that “The Autopsy” should fall under the look of del Toro’s brand.

Anastas has always enjoyed shooting horror films because they explore the human condition in a very specific way. The cinematographer can creatively stretch the imagination and the image in a way that can’t be done as much in dramas, comedies or romances, since they’re usually based in our day to day reality. But Anastas likes to switch around among genres- after working on an intense horror film such as Texas Chainsaw 3D, a light rom com might sound really good. He’s interested in any project that has a great story, script, director and crew.

Before finding his way behind a camera, Anastas thought he’d go into the music business since he grew up in a musical family. Instead, he became a news cameraperson, learning visual storytelling on the job. He’s found that his music background has actually served him well as a cinematographer- he feels musicality is very much a part of camera movement. One memorable time early in his career, Anastas was working Steadicam for Born on the Fourth of July. Director Oliver Stone pulled him aside and had Anastas put on a walkman so that he could move the camera to the pace of the music Stone wanted.

After working as a camera and Steadicam operator for several years, Anastas got to shoot his first feature as a DP for Man on the Moon. Anastas found director Milos Forman to be simultaneously generous and demanding, with the capability of recognizing someone’s potential and holding them to it.

Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities anthology TV series is on Netflix.

Find Anastas Michos: http://anastasmichos.com/
Instagram: @anastasmichos_asc_gsc

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