May 4, 2022

Special Episode: Directors of festival docs To The End, TikTok, Boom. TV pilot Chiqui and short film Daddy’s Girl

It’s been a busy few months and we finally bring you our interviews with four directors of documentaries and shorts from Sundance 2022.

To The End is director and cinematographer Rachel Lears’ follow up to her 2019 documentary, Knock Down the House. It once again follows representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three women environmental activists pushing hard for climate change legislation- first with the Green New Deal, then with President Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Rachel wants people to watch the film and become inspired to engage in politics in the United States in order to build a better world.
To The End is currently playing at the Hot Docs film festival in Canada and is seeking distribution.
Find Rachel Lears:
Twitter: @jubileefilms Instagram: @racheliplears

As the title suggests, TikTok, Boom. is about how the social media app TikTok has exploded for both viewers and content makers. Shalini Kantayya’s documentary explores the phenomenon, from the young people who consume it to the influencers who are now themselves a brand. But the Chinese company behind TikTok, Bytedance, uses the app for data mining, restricts certain content deemed too political, and could pose security risks for anyone watching or using TikTok. Shalini researched, found the TikTok influencers and shot the documentary very quickly.
TikTok, Boom. also played at SXSW this year and has yet to be released. Shalini’s previous film, 2020’s Coded Bias is critically acclaimed and won several awards.
Find Shalini Kantayya:
Instagram @shalinikantayya

Chiqui was inspired by director and writer Carlos Cardona’s parents’ immigration story. The television pilot takes place in 1980’s New Jersey as the vivacious Chiqui and her husband Carlos have just arrived from Colombia and are looking for work. Carlos set out to make it as a feature film, but decided to develop the story into a television series instead. To keep it true to the look of the 1980’s he decided to shoot it on super 16mm and used Zeiss super speed lenses.
Carlos is currently developing Chiqui into a television series.
Find Carlos Cardona:
Instagram @carlos.cardona

The comedic short film Daddy’s Girl is writer and director Lena Hudson’s third short film. Alison is a young woman in her 20’s who is a bit aimless, and her father comes to help her move out of her wealthy older boyfriend’s apartment. Lena had been playing around with the idea of a father/daughter movie that would be short and filmable, especially during COVID.
Daddy’s Girl also screened at SXSW this year and Lena is developing it into a longer feature film.
Find Lena Hudson:
Instagram @lenahudson

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links:
All web and social media content written by Alana Kode

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The Cinematography Podcast website:
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

December 29, 2021

Seamus McGarvey ASC, BSC on the musical adaptation of Cyrano, shooting in Sicily during the pandemic and on an active volcano

Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey is very happy about being a DP, and his love of the job always takes him through the difficult times. When he sees a movie that actually works beautifully on screen, it makes everything worthwhile.

The new musical Cyrano is based on the stage play by Erica Schmidt, which caught the attention of director Joe Wright, who knew he wanted to adapt it into a film. Stars Peter Dinklage and Haley Bennett also reprise their roles in the movie as Cyrano de Bergerac and Roxanne. Wright used the stage play as a guide for what the film should look like, and hired his frequent collaborator, Seamus McGarvey as the cinematographer. The two have now worked on five films together. Seamus wanted the film to feel more intimate than a play, so he chose close up portraiture of the actor’s faces, capturing sensitive performances. Because of the pandemic, Wright felt even more strongly about the story of Cyrano being an outsider, craving love and human connection. They began shooting in the fall of 2020, creating a bubble of performers in the town of Noto, Sicily, with many background actors playing a few different parts. Since Sicily was still locked down for COVID with no tourism and few people out and about, most of the town became the entire set- the locations were all real houses and buildings. The crew was able to shoot with little distraction or interference, and with no bars or restaurants open, they became a tight-knit group.

In his adaptation of Cyrano, Wright was guided by the musical and wanted the dialog to roll naturally into song, which were recorded live during the shoot. Playback had to be done through earpieces for all of the performers so they knew when to sing and dance. Fortunately, all of the actors were such good singers that they didn’t have to do a lot of takes, and they had time to focus on rehearsals and blocking first. Seamus had previously shot the musical The Greatest Showman, and he enjoyed the experience on Cyrano of playing with the rhythm of photography with song, creating a beat to the pictures themselves. The “Every Letter” song sequence in Cyrano reminded him of working on music videos in his early career, and he and the crew had fun creating lens flares with flashlights throughout the scene. They worked with lots of candles and torches, with some LED torches with CGI flames for a nighttime staircase fight scene in the film.

The filming of Cyrano literally ended with a bang. Mount Etna is an active volcano, and Wright chose to film the final battle sequences up the side of it. The weather had turned unseasonably cold and it started snowing, creating a real problem for the set which had to be relocated. The snow would start to melt because the earth beneath was hot with molten lava. Finally, within days of completing shooting and beginning to wrap out of the location, Mt. Etna erupted and the sets were covered in ash. The entire crew quickly evacuated.

Find Seamus McGarvey: Instagram @seamiemc
Twitter: @mcseamus

You can see Cyrano opening in theaters December 31.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links:

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras:

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Be sure to watch our YouTube video of Nate Watkin showing how Assemble works!

The Cinematography Podcast website:
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

May 4, 2018

Ep 22 – Johnny Derango – Discusses shooting “Small Town Crime,” being an American Cinematographer “Rising Star of Cinematography,” SXSW, Shooting Reality TV, Re-shoots and Film School.

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 22 – Johnny Derango Director of Photography Johnny Derango Johnny Derango shot the indie feature “Small Town Crime” which had a 2018 theatrical release and is now available on streaming services.  Johnny was just named by American Cinematographer magazine as a “2018 Rising Star of Cinematography.” In the interview he discusses