March 24, 2021

Dariusz Wolski, ASC on News of the World, working with Paul Greengrass, music videos, The Crow, Dark City, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more

Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski prefers to take a realistic, documentary approach to most of the movies he shoots. His latest film, the western News of the World, is primarily shot outside using natural light, in a style Dariusz likes to call “well-observed” documentary. As with many of director Paul Greengrass’s films, News of the World relies on a Steadicam and hand-held cameras to give it a more realistic and intimate feel. Daruisz watched a few Westerns to get ideas for his approach to News of the World, such as The Searchers and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Dariusz got his start after film school shooting music videos back in the 1980’s and 90’s, such as Suzanne Vega’s “My Name is Luka.”  One of his influences was the late cinematographer Harris Sevides, whose approach to music videos for Madonna and R.E.M. was softer and more cinematic. Daruisz and several future icons of cinema were all working on music videos at the time, and he worked with directors David Fincher, Alex Proyas and Gore Verbinski. They all wanted to make movies and were just making music videos to stay employed. As trained filmmakers, Dariusz feels they elevated the music video to an art, bringing a film sensibility to it with longer shots and cinematic lighting.

Though Daruisz found it hard to break into film at first, his work on music videos and commercials eventually got him there. Director Alex Proyas hired Dariusz as director of photography for the films Romeo is Bleeding, The Crow, and Dark City. The two used a dark and gritty music video aesthetic for shooting 1994’s The Crow. Tragically, star Brandon Lee was killed by a faulty blank bullet during filming and the movie was finished without him, using early face replacement digital technology. For Dark City, Dariusz’s next film with Proyas, he was influenced by films such as Metropolis and German expressionist art. He used sodium vapor lights on the set, which created a very orange and surreal glow. To add to the sickly green colors in the film, they decided not to use the correct fluorescent tubes in the automat scenes, or color correct the result.

Dariusz went on to work with director Gore Verbinski on The Mexican and Pirates of the Caribbean. At the time, Pirates was anything but a sure thing. It was up against the biggest stigma in Hollywood- every pirate movie that had been made up until that point was a huge flop. Plus, the character Captain Jack Sparrow was a complete antihero, and though Johnny Depp was a known actor, he wasn’t yet a huge movie star. After shooting several Pirates movies, Dariusz went on to work with Tim Burton on Sweeney Todd and Alice in Wonderland, then with Ridley Scott on Prometheus , The Martian, and Raised By Wolves, all science fiction movies or series that are heavy on special effects. For Dariusz, even if a film is science fiction, it needs to feel as though it is grounded in its own reality, so it was important to be in constant communication with the VFX supervisor to figure out how they would collaborate on set.

News of the World is playing in some theaters and is available to stream on VOD.

Find Dariusz Wolski: @dariusz_wolski_official

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep118/

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September 8, 2020

Mandy Walker, ASC, ACS on Mulan, Hidden Figures, Australia, Tracks, Shattered Glass, working with directors Niki Caro and Baz Luhrmann

Mandy Walker believes that her job as a cinematographer is not just to make pretty pictures, but to enhance an emotion with lenses, camera placement and lighting. She works on a gut and emotional level for films, getting across the feelings of the characters- a DP’s arsenal of tricks should only help convey what’s going on in the scene. For Mulan, Mandy and director Nikki Caro wanted to take a different approach from the Disney animated version, and were free to interpret the film as they wished. Mandy watched several Chinese action films such as House of Flying Daggers and went on location scouting trips to China to find the look and inspiration for the film. Mandy grew up in Australia and always loved photography, film and art, so she felt a passion to become a cinematographer right from the beginning. She skipped film school and began as a production assistant and loader in Australia, learning as she went on films such as Lantana, which was shot using almost only available light. Shattered Glass, which tells the true story of a journalist who made up the majority of his articles, was her first American film. Working with Baz Luhrmann on Australia was a huge jump into bigger budget movies, and she learned how to organize and delegate an entire camera department with multiple cameras. For the film Hidden Figures, Mandy worked closely with the costume designer and makeup artists to ensure that how the characters were dressed and what they looked like matched the feel of what each scene is meant to convey. She watched a lot of archival footage from NASA, some of which was used in the film, and was thrilled to meet Katherine Johnson, one of the real-life subjects of the film.

Mandy Walker is currently working with director Baz Luhrmann again on a forthcoming biography film about Elvis Presley.

See Mulan on Disney Plus

Find Mandy Walker: https://www.mandywalkerdp.com/
Instagram: @mandywalkerdp

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep90/

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WIN a Sony A7SIII, Gitzo tripod and $100 Hot Rod Cameras gift card! Worth over $4,000, for one lucky winner! Follow us on Instagram @thecinepod and click on the link in bio to enter by September 29, 2020.

Website: www.camnoir.com
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October 1, 2019

Salvatore Totino, ASC talks Any Given Sunday, Cinderella Man, Frost/Nixon, The Da Vinci Code, Spider-Man: Homecoming, working with Oliver Stone, Ron Howard, and more

Sal Totino grew up in Brooklyn NY and began his career as a music video and commercial DP before landing his first feature on Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday. He’s worked with director Ron Howard on eight films such as The Missing, Cinderella Man, Frost/Nixon and The Da Vinci Code. Sal has two upcoming films out soon- The Postcard Killings and The Tax Collector.