Five Frames with The Final Girls cinematographer Elie Smolkin

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The Film: The Final Girls
The Cinematographer: Elie Smolkin
The Tools: Shot on the Red Epic with short Angenieux zooms and Cooke S4 lenses
The Plot: On the one-year anniversary of her Scream Queen mother’s death, a young woman (Taissa Farmiga) and her friends are transported into her mom’s most famous movie – a campy camp slasher à la The Burning.

The deconstruction of the 1980s slasher film began before the corpse of the short-lived subgenre was even cold. Student Bodies (1981) started digging the grave. Scream (1996) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012) disinterred the body and scattered the pieces.

So why tune in for another poke at the carcass of the stalk-and-slash flick? Because The Final Girls is more than just another mocking of the slasher film’s “sin equals death” conservatism.

It’s a PG-13 comedy that captures the spirit of the “dead teenager” movie without the gruesomeness. It’s a visually inventive delight that, rather than emulating the look of Friday the 13th, presents its alternative reality as a Technicolor world awash in purples and hyper-saturated greens. And, most importantly, it has a heart at its center thanks to an emotional turn from Farmiga as the grieving daughter.

The Final Girls cinematographer, Elie Smolkin, broke down a few shots from the film for us.

Check out other interviews in the Five Frames series here. Continue Reading ›

Five Frames: Knock Knock cinematographer Antonio Quercia en español

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The Film: Knock Knock
The Cinematographer: Antonio Quercia
The Tools: Shot at 4K resolution with the Canon EOS-1D C and Canon Cinema Prime lenses.
The Plot: Dire consequences await married father of two Keanu Reeves when – alone for Father’s Day weekend – he allows a pair of attractive girls into his house on a dark and stormy night.

The plan for this interview with Knock Knock and The Green Inferno cinematographer Antonio Quercia was for his answers to be translated from Spanish to English via Google and Microsoft Word translators. Turns out – particularly given the jargony nature of film production – that didn’t work out too well.

Neither of those translation tools produced text that was remotely usable. But since Antonio took the time to answer the questions, I’ve decided to present his interview in Spanish. Continue Reading ›

Pic of the Day: Contamination (1980)

Contamination dvd coverArrow Video’s cover art for their new Blu-ray release of Luigi Cozzi’s Contamination (1980), one of my favorite gory Italian knock-offs. This one borrows a bit from Alien, including extraterrestrial eggs so similar to Ridley Scott’s classic that I can’t believe nobody got sued.

The disc features a commentary track, making-of documentary, and collector’s booklet.

Interview: Ashby director Tony McNamara

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An excerpt from an interview I did with Ashby writer/director Tony McNamara for Filmmaker Magazine. The film stars Nat Wolff as a suburban Virginia high schooler taken under the wing of ex-CIA assassin Mickey Rourke. Check out the entire interview over at Filmmaker.

“…On the day we shot the boxing scene (where Mickey teaches Nat to take a punch), Mickey was very concerned about getting hit because, weirdly enough, he hates fight scenes in movies. Because, from his point of view, there’s always a bad stunt coordinator and you end up getting hit. I think he’s been accidentally punched in the face, a few times so he was very adamant and he brought down his own guy from New York. He kept saying to me, “If that kid hits me in the face, I’m going to hit you in the face.” (laughs) But then once we started, because he’s a boxer, his boxer’s instincts kicked in. Even when I’d say cut, he’d keep throwing jabs and Nat was like, “We’ve stopped! We’ve stopped!” – Tony McNamara