January 12, 2024

Poor Things cinematographer Robbie Ryan, BSC, ISC

Poor Things is a brilliantly imaginative, comedic and visually stunning film about Bella Baxter, a young woman who is brought back to life by mad scientist Godwin Baxter. She experiences a personal and sexual awakening as she travels the world, discovering what it means to be a confident woman free of societal constraints. Director Yorgos Lanthimos and cinematographer Robbie Ryan had previously worked together on The Favourite. They wanted to push the boundaries of how Poor Things looked in every possible way. “He’s so prolific with ideas that you go, ‘Okay, you want to try that? Okay, let’s try that!’ And, he gives me a lot of challenges that I go off and find a lens that he’s trying to talk about,” says Robbie.

Robbie shot Poor Things in a variety of different formats and with a range of unusual lenses. The film is a period piece, so he and Lanthimos decided to use the 1:6:6 aspect ratio, which is closer in composition to portraiture. They also chose to shoot entirely on film, using KODAK 35mm black and white, color negative and Ektachrome Reversal film stocks. For Bella’s reanimation sequence, Robbie used a Vista Vision camera, which is a special widescreen format from the 1950’s. The 35mm film stock is turned on its side, so that the picture is ultra-widescreen and high resolution. The film is energized with purposefully intrusive cinematography, lenses and zooms. Robbie selected a Petzval lens once used on old projectors. He also placed a 4mm lens, made for 16mm cameras, onto a 35mm camera, to create an extreme fish-eye, vignetted frame. “Yorgos wanted even wider fish eye lenses that created a vignette, with a dreamy focus bokeh on it. We wanted another era feeling to it, with a painterly quality to it, and to have a lot of character. You’re jumping between so many different lens choices that would, they would definitely jar, but that’s what the attempt is- to jar the audience.”

On set, Lanthimos prefers to be able to use all 360 degrees of the entire space. He also didn’t want any lights on the set, so it had to be completely built and lit with every direction shootable. It was more freeing for the actors and for the camera, but it did present a challenge for shooting on film, which needs a lot more light to make images. Robbie had to use many practical lights throughout the set, with sky lighting in the ceiling, especially for the outdoor scenes.

Robbie is very proud of Poor Things, and he thinks it’s funny and more accessible than some of Lanthimos’ other work. “The universe that Yorgos has created is the one you want to enjoy and get into with this film,” he says.

Find Robbie Ryan: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0752811/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Listen to our previous interview from 2019 with Robbie Ryan on The Favourite and his other work. https://www.camnoir.com/ep32/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by ARRI: https://www.arri.com/en

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
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

July 7, 2020

John Brawley, DP of the Hulu series The Great, talks creating his visual manifesto for the satiric show and more

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 82: John Brawley

John Brawley began his career shooting television series in his native Australia, coming to the U.S. to shoot the USA series, Queen of the South. John approaches each project with a “visual manifesto,” or a set of rules for yourself and the crew to follow with the camera, lenses, lighting, and color story defining what you’re doing. John’s recent project, The Great, stars Elle Fanning as Catherine The Great and Nicholas Hoult as Peter, the (not great) king of Russia. John worked closely with series creator Tony McNamara, a fellow Aussie who also received an Oscar nod for writing The Favourite. While shooting, John, Tony and the production designer determined that all the light sources be consistently candlelight, daylight, or firelight. Since it was Catherine’s story, she was always in the center of the frame and her close-ups were always just a little closer. The UK is the home of period drama, but Tony McNamara wanted The Great to be “punk history” or satire, taking liberties with the Catherine The Great story, both in costuming and language. He and John also resisted the urge to do period cliché visuals- for example, they did not use any “sweeping” crane shots and avoided using excess smoke for atmosphere. The Great was just renewed for a second season.

Find John Brawley: http://johnbrawley.com/
See some tech tests from John’s projects: https://johnbrawley.wordpress.com/
Instagram: @johnbrawley

See The Great on Hulu: https://www.hulu.com/welcome

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep82/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com

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

February 24, 2019

Ep 32 – Robbie Ryan, BSC, ISC – Oscar nominated Cinematographer for The Favourite, talks shooting with natural light, short films and more

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 32 – Robbie Ryan, BSC, ISC “Cinematographer’s cinematographer” Robbie Ryan, BSC, ISC discusses his Academy Award nominated work on “The Favourite.”  He breaks down using natural light to compose shots and the love of making shorts. Find Robbie Ryan on IMDBBen’s Short End is Blackmagic Design DaVinci ResolveIllya’s Short End is