October 18, 2023

Ahsoka cinematographer Eric Steelberg, ASC

Cinematographer Eric Steelberg, ASC has always loved movies, which is what led him to a career as a director of photography. He tries to find compelling film and television projects, putting his own stamp on the story’s visuals.

Back in 2006, Eric was at the beginning of his career as a DP when he shot the small independent film, Quinceañera which won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury prize at Sundance that year. It was shot in HD, which was very new technology at the time, especially for smaller films. After Quinceañera, Eric’s career began to take off. He’d been a frequent collaborator with director Jason Reitman, whom he met shooting commercials and smaller projects, but not films. Working on Quinceañera gave Eric more credibility as a DP, so Reitman asked him to shoot his next film, Juno. At first it was an uphill battle to get Juno’s financiers, Fox Searchlight, to sign off on Eric, because they didn’t see him as experienced enough for the job. But Reitman fought for him, and it led to a long relationship with Eric as Reitman’s director of photography for Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult, Labor Day, Men, Women & Children, Tully, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Eric never dreamed he’d start at Juno and end up working on the Disney + Star Wars series, Ahsoka. Eric and director of photography Quyen Tran, ASC split cinematography duties. He began prepping the show with executive producer/showrunner Dave Filoni, frequently touching base with Q since she wasn’t able to come on set until later. Both Eric and Q have similar approaches to lighting and composition, and Eric feels it was the best version of a two DP collaboration that there could be. One of the biggest successes of their working relationship was doing their camera testing together and knowing they were aligned with the cameras, lenses and lighting for the show.

As a Star Wars fan, Eric was familiar with the source material and he felt so much joy working on a piece of the saga. He had never done a show shot on volume and blue screen stages, and Eric saw it as an opportunity to learn something new. As a DP, he feels his biggest job is listening, looking and paying attention to what the director and the rest of the team wants to see on the screen. Developing the look of Ahsoka began with the art department’s concept art for the show, but there was lots of room for creativity as the characters travel to different planets. Eric found Ahsoka to be by far the HARDEST show he has ever worked on, but he also feels extremely proud of his work.

Ahsoka is currently on Disney+.

Find Eric Steelberg: http://www.ericsteelberg.com/
Instagram: @ericsteelberg

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

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

August 18, 2020

Director and DP Brandon Trost: directing An American Pickle, shooting Crank: High Voltage, Halloween II, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, HBO pilot for Barry, comedy films MacGruber, The Interview and The Disaster Artist

Cinematographer and director Brandon Trost enjoys exploring different genres and styles of filmmaking, trying different things that push him outside of his comfort zone. Brandon grew up around film- he is the fourth generation of his family working in the movie industry. He attended LA Film School and soon began working as a cinematographer. One of Brandon’s early films, the action movie Crank: High Voltage, was shot much like a skateboarding video, with several small cameras strategically placed to capture the frenetic pace so that it would feel electric. Brandon loved working with director Rob Zombie on Halloween II, which was shot on 16 mm film for a very grainy and gritty look. Shooting the comedy film MacGruber was Brandon’s first experience working in the humor genre. He and director Jorma Taccone wanted it to look like Die Hard, taking all the action movie tropes to an extreme, which is what made it funny rather than choosing to shoot it like a conventional comedy movie. MacGruber helped launch Brandon’s career into shooting comedy movies This is the End, The Interview, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Neighbors and The Disaster Artist with Seth Rogan, Andy Sandberg, and James Franco. When shooting with comedians, Brandon found it’s important to be prepared for improvisation and to light the space so there’s flexibility for the actors to move within it, keeping shots fairly wide. For the films Diary of a Teenage Girl and Can You Ever Forgive Me? Brandon had the opportunity to switch gears again, working with director Marielle Heller. They chose a camera and lenses for Can You Ever Forgive Me? that gave the film a real, naturalistic, even unflattering look to Melissa McCarthy’s character. Brandon got to explore dark comedy again in the pilot for the HBO series, Barry. Creators Bill Hader and Alec Berg wanted the violence to feel very real, dark and yet funny, so Brandon chose to treat the pilot like a Coen brothers movie, using moody lighting and shooting with a single camera. An American Pickle is Brandon’s first time directing a large feature film. Frequent collaborators Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg asked Brandon to take a look at the script with an eye to directing, and the story appealed to him. Directing An American Pickle was challenging since Seth Rogan plays both main characters. Much of the film had to be shot twice- once with Seth Rogan as the character Herschel and then as the character Ben. Brandon found that choosing a director of photography when you’re also a cinematographer can be difficult, and he chose DP John Guleserian (Like Crazy, About Time, Love, Simon, the upcoming Candyman) to shoot the movie because he has a great sense of humor and is very collaborative.

Find Brandon Trost: https://www.brandontrost.com/
Twitter: @b_tro

See An American Pickle on HBO Max
Our interview with DP John Guleserian will be coming in October.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep87/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz