Interview: Wonder Woman 1984 cinematographer Matthew Jensen on IMAX, practical stunts, and his love of Panavision Primos

I’ve got a new interview up over at Filmmaker Magazine with Wonder Woman 1984 cinematographer Matthew Jensen. The super hero sequel was shot on a multitude of formats, including:

  • 35mm (as the main format)
  • IMAX (for the opening and closing scenes)
  • 5-perf 65mm (for heavy dialogue scenes during the IMAX sequences)
  • Alexa 65 (underwater shots in the Amazon Olympics set piece)
  • Alexa XT (for the Washington Monument sequence, when an ISO of 1280 was needed)

Here’s Jensen breaking down one of the film’s practical stunts, part of a chase scene set in Cairo:

That (chase scene) was shot in Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. I think the 2nd unit part of the chase was 15 days of shooting, then the 1st unit would come in and shoot little bits of it, particularly with Chris and Gal. The main thing we wanted to do was shoot in the real sun, so 1st and 2nd unit were very close to one another—we would be shooting under similar conditions and I think that helped the sequence blend together. So, while 2nd unit was shooting, we were also working in a parking lot not too far away getting close-ups, things like Gal getting squeezed between two trucks. There’s a top-down shot of her between the trucks—it’s really her and those are real trucks. We shot that in the parking lot. The pavement moving [below Gal’s feet] is a digital effect and [one of the trucks attempting to crush her] is a mechanical truck with a hydraulic arm pushing towards her.

Shot Behind the Shot: Mank (2020)

A car interior set-up from David Fincher’s Netflix film Mank, shot on stage with LED screens to provide backgrounds and interactive lighting. Here’s Mank cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt on his approach to stage-bound driving scenes, from an interview I did with him for Filmmaker Magazine.

Another bit from the same interview. Messerschmidt on lighting Amanda Seyfried in the style of a 1940s movie star.

Check out more of the Shot Behind the Shot series.

Pic of the Day: Japanese poster for The Outsiders (1983)

Above you’ll find the Japanese release art for Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders (1983), via Posteritati.

The adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s 1967 coming of age novel – penned while Hinton was still in high school – began its journey to the screen when a school librarian in Fresno, California sent a petition to Coppola signed by more than 300 students asking him to make a movie of their favorite book.

Here’s a 1983 New York Times article about that classroom petition as well as Variety’s look back at the movie for its 35th anniversary.

Pic of the Day: Candyman (1992) storyboards

Below you’ll find a few of director Bernard Rose’s storyboards for Candyman (1992). Rose also adapted the film’s source material “The Forbidden,” a Clive Barker short story about an urban legend that lurks in a Liverpool housing estate.

Here’s Rose on shifting the setting to Chicago for the film, from an interview with The Guardian….

“I found a story in Clive Barker’s Books of Blood collection that I thought had potential: “The Forbidden,” about a middle-class women fascinated by a Merseyside housing estate. I knew Clive a little, so he gave me a free option. After the nightmare he had had on Hellraiser, where it was redubbed into American English, I decided to set the film in the US.

Propaganda Films, a forward-thinking production company who were doing Twin Peaks, bought it on the spot. I picked Chicago to set it in quite randomly, simply because it was a place I’d heard of. I asked the Illinois Film Commission where the worst public housing estate in the city was and they said without pausing, Cabrini-Green.

They wouldn’t let us go there at first without a police escort. The social divide was really extreme compared to anything in a Liverpool housing estate. But despite its reputation, most people there were just getting on with their lives. The fear people had of walking around there was the very essence of racism – it is ultimately based on the fear of the other, or the unknown.”

Check out more Pics of the Day and more Storyboards on the blog.

The images below come from Scream Factory’s excellent Blu-ray release of the film.

Pic of the Day: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

A cavernous castle set from the Errol Flynn swashbuckler The Adventures of Robin Hood, Warner Bros. first major film to use Technicolor’s three-strip process. Originally set to star James Cagney, the movie was the most expensive in the studio’s history at the time with a price tag of more than $2 million.

More Pics of the Day

Here’s a short video from the George Eastman Museum explaining the three strip process…

Pic of the Day: 1941

Steven Spielberg (riding the camera crane, frame left) on the set of 1941, a box office misfire sandwiched in the middle of an otherwise unbroken streak of Spielberg-directed hits – Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.

The pic comes from an appreciation of William Fraker (Rosemary’s Baby, Bullitt) in American Cinematographer magazine. Fraker was nominated for six Oscars during his career – including nods for Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects for 1941.

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