Look Book: Ex Machina’s inspirations

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When filmmakers are in preproduction, they often put together a “look book” – a collection of images from other filmmakers, painters, photographers, etc. that serves as visual inspiration. The idea behind this new semi-occasional column is to peek into a movie’s look book to reveal some of its forbearers. Today we’ll be looking at Ex Machina. Here’s a quote from cinematographer Rob Hardy about the film’s inspirations – taken from an interview I did with Hardy for Filmmaker Magazine (which you can read here in it entirety):

What’s so remarkable about (Ex Machina writer/director) Alex Garland’s writing is that you read it and it elicits such a strong vision. So in a strange way we had very few references. There were perhaps two that came up in conversation simply because we were trying to demonstrate an idea. One of them was the photographer Saul Leiter, the 1950s New York street photographer. He shot a lot of things through shop windows and a lot of his work was based on reflections. His color work is just extraordinary. The other person was [Kazimir] Malevich, who is a Russian painter who worked with abstract geometric shapes and forms. For me, that informed very much the way in which I would light the set and control those lines and those reflections. I could make frames within frames and position Ava and Caleb in a way that would be not just visually pleasing but also serve the feelings we were trying to elicit….

Continue onward for galleries of Leiter and Malevich’s work in addition to a few frame grabs from Ex Machina. Check out the rest of the Look Book series here. Continue Reading ›

Cake cinematographer Rachel Morrison

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From the moment she began hijacking the family camera as a grade schooler, there was little doubt Rachel Morrison would live her life peering at the world through a viewfinder. The only question was whether Morrison would be adjusting the aperture on a still camera or movie camera.

Morrison spoke to Deep Fried Movies about the path that led her to choose the latter, a decision that has worked out well thus far for the cinematographer of Fruitvale Station and the new drama Cake starring Jennifer Aniston. Continue Reading ›

Behind the Scenes: Ex Machina (2015)

I’m in the process of finishing up an interview I did with Ex Machina (2015) cinematographer Rob Hardy for Filmmaker Magazine and I thought I’d share this collection of production stills and concept art I culled together during my research for the piece.

The film was shot mainly with the Sony F65 (the Sony F55 was used for some of the handheld work and GoPros were used for surveillance camera footage) and Cooke Xtal Express lenses, which are 1930s-era spherical lenses that were re-housed and adapted into anamorphics in the 1980s. As for the concept art, most of the pieces were done by the artist known as Jock. Continue Reading ›

Pic of the Day: Ben-Hur (1959)

A.Arnold 'Buddy' Gillespie in the miniatures tank for BEN HUR (1959) (matte shot)

Special effects legend A. Arnold Gillespie in the model tank set of Ben-Hur (1959). The biblical epic’s effects earned an Oscar – one of the film’s record 11 Academy Awards. Gillespie also lent his talents to The Wizard of Oz, North by Northwest and Forbidden Planet.

Pic courtesy of the fantastic blog Matte Shot – A Tribute To Golden Era Special FX.

Behind the Scenes: The Avengers

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The latest constellation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe hits screens this weekend with Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). It’s predestined to make a billion dollars at the box office regardless of whether anyone actually digs it or not, but for me it marked a step backward from Joss Whedon’s 2012 tentpole starter. I could’ve done without Black Widow morphing into a googly-eyed romantic and the digression to Hawkeye’s idealized bucolic utopia with pregnant wife and two moppets in tow. And if you’re taking a grade-school-age kid – one of those little tykes who make this franchise transcendently lucrative by gobbling up toys, Underoos or whatever Avenger-branded accoutrements are on shelves these days – you probably could do without the grim forced sterilization monologue or the zucchini-related sexual innuendo. On the plus side, you get a droll James Spader-voiced evil robot as the villain. And that’s fun for children of all ages.

Continue onward to peruse a gallery of production stills from both of Whedon’s Avengers flicks. Check out more of Deep Fried Movies Behind the Scenes galleries here. Continue Reading ›