June 23, 2021

Cinematographer Dan Stoloff on shooting The Boys on Amazon Prime, The Americans and Suits

Over his long career, cinematographer Dan Stoloff feels he’s always learning as a DP. Every job, even if it seems small, is an opportunity to meet people and build relationships.

Dan’s latest project, The Boys season two on Amazon Prime, plays with the idea that superheroes in that world are actually just corrupt and possibly psychotic people with special powers, who behave in ways that are anything but super. They have celebrity, play politics, and use publicists and the media to manipulate their image. A small group of people- “The Boys” in the show’s title- band together to expose the superheroes and the corporation they work for. Dan likes that the show stays relatable and not to fantastical. When he came on board for the second season of The Boys, Dan knew he wanted to change the look as the story moves forward. The first season presented a slick, neatly packaged corporate world for the superheroes which was shot with a Steadicam, while the grittier world of the regular guys who are trying to expose and take down the supers was done handheld. For the second season, the two worlds have started to clash and unravel, so Dan gave everything a more ragged look. He decided to adhere more closely to the graphic novel of The Boys, sometimes using black silhouettes and contrasts such as subtractive lighting, positioning the actors against a dark background. Dan also enjoyed that season two presented a variety of scenes to shoot with different cameras, equipment, lighting scenarios and lenses, such as a big-budget hero movie, newscasts, an awards show, a country farmhouse and a gritty basement.

In Dan’s early career, he moved from Boston to New York, after having shot several claymation films. He began shooting comedy projects for Broadway Video, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michael’s production company, and got a call to shoot The State, a 1990’s MTV sketch comedy show shot on 16mm. But Dan hadn’t considered television as a serious place for artistic expression until The Sopranos opened his eyes to the possibilities of a quality series. By then, the mid-budget independent features that Dan had worked on started to dry up, and he began seeking out jobs on television series. After landing his first television series, Memphis Beat, Dan found he likes the precision, continuity, and security of TV. He went on to DP the show Fairly Legal and then worked for nearly five seasons as the cinematographer of the USA show Suits. On Suits, Dan learned a lot about shooting through multiple levels of glass, playing with reflections and bouncing outdoor light to make it look more natural even within an office building or conference room.

Prior to The Boys, Dan shot season six of The Americans on FX. In season six, more of The Americans takes place in Russia, and some of the street scenes and exteriors were actually shot there, though most of the interiors were shot on a soundstage. Dan wanted to differentiate between the two countries, keeping the colors to a green and cyan palette for Russia so that it felt cold, while in contrast the American scenes were shot in full, rich color.

You can find Dan Stoloff: http://danstoloff.com/
You can watch Season Two of The Boys streaming on Amazon Prime.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep129/

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March 18, 2020

DP Kira Kelly on working with director Ava DuVernay, her Netflix series Self Made, 13th, Queen Sugar, East Los High

Cinematographer Kira Kelly had years of experience before director Ava DuVernay approached her to shoot her documentary, 13th. For 13th, DuVernay was interested in creating artful, composed shots rather than the typical “talking heads” of most documentaries, and pushed Kira and the team to get creative about how it was framed. The film examines the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery, yet the mass incarceration of African-Americans continues to this day as its own kind of slavery. 13th was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2017. Kira collaborated with DuVernay again on the second season of the critically-acclaimed series, Queen Sugar. When she was first starting out, Kira worked as a gaffer before moving into the camera department and establishing herself as a cinematographer, shooting a small independent film called Were the World Mine. Producer/director Carlos Portugal noticed her work and hired her to shoot four seasons of Hulu’s Emmy-nominated series, East Los High.

Kira Kelly’s latest show is a limited series for Netflix called Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madame C.J. Walker, starring Octavia Spencer. The series is based on the real-life story of an African American washerwoman who builds a hair product empire to become the first female self-made millionaire. Self-Made is on Netflix beginning March 20. https://www.netflix.com/title/80202462

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep67/

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March 10, 2020

Jakob Ihre, FSF: Chernobyl cinematographer on shooting the incredible HBO series, his early career, working with director Joachim Trier

Jakob Ihre believes that making movies is very personal, and it’s important to create a connection to the material that the audience can feel. He graduated from the National Film and Television School in London knowing that he wanted to do smaller, quality projects that told personal stories. Jakob collaborated with fellow NFTS graduate Joachim Trier on several films, including Reprise, Louder Than Bombs, Oslo, August 31 and Thelma. The 2015 film, The End of the Tour, about writer David Foster Wallace, marked the Swedish cinematographer’s first English language movie.

The HBO TV series Chernobyl came to Jakob through the series’ director, Johan Renck. The two were friends but had not had the chance to work together. Writer and creator Craig Mazin had a completed 600-page script, and once Jakob read it, he knew he had to work on the project. The story was so gripping and mesmerizing, everyone involved felt a calling to tell the story in a way that was solemn about the material and accurate about what it looked like. Chernobyl shot for eight months in Lithuania and Ukraine and has won multiple awards.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep66/

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Hot Rod Cameras is giving away TWO professional, cinema quality Aputure MC lights! One for you AND a friend you tag! Go to http://hotrodcameras.com/giveaway to enter. Contest ends March 30, 2020.