June 8, 2022

Director Carey Williams and DP Mike Dallatorre on directing and shooting the film Emergency

Emergency is a comedy about three men of color- college roommates Kunle, Sean, and Carlos, who are about to go out for an epic night of spring break partying when they find a white girl has accidentally stumbled in and passed out on their apartment floor. Concerned about what might happen if they call the police, they decide to take the semi-conscious girl in their van and drive around town for hours, trying to find a safe place to leave her and not get in trouble. Meanwhile, the girl’s friends chase after the men as they track her phone and call the police.

Director Carey Williams and cinematographer Mike Dallatorre met about twenty years ago and have worked together on several music videos and other projects. Emergency began as a 2018 short film directed by Carey and shot by Mike. The short won a jury award at the Sundance Film Festival and Best Narrative Short at SXSW. Carey and writer KD Dávila worked together to expand the story into a feature, and Temple Hill Entertainment and Amazon Studios produced it before the feature premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

As two men of color themselves, both Carey and Mike have had personal experience with being profiled and detained by police officers. In Emergency, once the roommates are caught and detained by the police, Mike and Carey decided to make the film feel extremely terrifying, shooting the encounter in slow motion and selectively out of focus. Mike deliberately kept the police officer’s faces out of frame so that they feel like scary monsters in a horror movie.

Having worked together for so long, Mike and Carey had an easy shorthand way of talking through the shotlist and visual feel for each scene, and put together a look book as a reference. Emergency is Carey’s biggest movie to date, while Mike brought a lot of experience with seven other features under his belt. As a visual director, Carey always wanted to know what the movie would look like and feel like. The most important piece of the movie for Carey was to show the relationship between the friends, their emotions and vulnerability as they go through a crisis together.

Emergency is currently playing in theaters and on Amazon Prime.

Carey Williams http://cdubfilms.com/
Instagram @cdubig

Mike Dallatorre: https://www.michaeldallatorre.com/
Instagram @dp_miked

Hear our previous Cinepod interview with Mike Dallatorre: https://www.camnoir.com/ep70/

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep171/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by Aputure: https://www.aputure.com/

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

February 2, 2022

Cinematographers Daniel Grant, CSC and Steve Cosens, CSC on shooting the series Station Eleven on HBOMax

Station Eleven is an HBOMax series based on the book by Emily St. John Mandel. The story focuses on several characters who are survivors of a devastating flu pandemic that wipes out most of the human population, completely collapsing modern civilization. The series mixes together the storylines of characters whose past and present timelines interconnect, weaving together the time during the pandemic, the days and months afterward, and then how the characters have adapted twenty years into the future. Art, music and theater have thrived in a small band of actors and musicians known as the Traveling Symphony. Kirsten, played by Mackenzie Davis, is the main character and a lead actor in the Traveling Symphony, going from settlement to settlement performing Shakespeare. Each community still remains under threat of hostile invaders, and a dangerous cult whose beliefs are based on a story from a graphic novel written before the pandemic appears to be on the rise.

Daniel Grant, CSC and Steve Cosens, CSC, both Canadian cinematographers, were hired as DPs for four episodes apiece for Station Eleven. They were happy to know that they’d be working closely together because they were familiar with each other’s work and comfortable with each other’s aesthetic. Executive producer Hiro Murai directed the first block of episodes- Episodes 1 and 3- with Christian Sprenger as the director of photography, and they established the initial look of the show. Murai and Sprenger shot two episodes in Chicago as COVID hit, and then production shut down for several months. Daniel and Steve were brought on to shoot the next blocks in Toronto, Canada, which felt weird and surreal as they developed the look and feel of a fictional post-pandemic world, while living through a real global pandemic.

As Daniel and Steve began prep, they were able to contribute their own ideas for the look and feel of Year 20 in Station Eleven’s post-pandemic world. Steve noted that the pacing of the show was very deliberate, and they would purposefully let shots hold for several beats. Each shot was nicely framed and the lighting was very naturalistic and organic- it was not a slick show with fast edits. With less humans around, they wanted to depict the earth returning to the natural world in the future, instead of the typical post-apocalyptic barren scorched landscape look. They wanted Station Eleven to feel positive and life-affirming, although still fraught with potential dangers.

Since the main storyline follows a roving band of theatrical performers, the show was always on the move with many different locations, and Daniel and Steve had to fuse the challenges of the logistics with the creative. Many episodes required different seasons or the same location dressed for different years. The hardest episodes and locations to shoot took place at the airport, set during Station Eleven’s pre-pandemic and then twenty years after the pandemic. The two cinematographers stayed in close contact and were true collaborators, sharing information and communicating to make it easier for each other as they switched off shooting in the airport location. Steve and Daniel would often have early morning phone calls to constantly feed each other information about the shoot day, and would watch each other’s dailies to match each other’s shots.

Find Daniel Grant: https://www.danielgrantdp.com/
Instagram: @danielgrant_dp

Find Steve Cosens: https://www.stevecosens.com/
Instagram: @cosenssteve

You can see all episodes of Station Eleven on HBOMax

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep157/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Sponsored by Assemble: Assemble has amazing production management software. Use the code cinepod to try a month for free! https://www.assemble.tv/
Be sure to watch our YouTube video of Nate Watkin showing how Assemble works! https://youtu.be/IlpismVjab8

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz