The Shot Behind the Shot: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Elm Street

I was planning on running this as part of the blog’s annual October horror movie tribute, but with the passing of Wes Craven yesterday it seemed appropriate to just go ahead and share it. The pic above and the quote below both come from this fantastic Rolling Stone oral history of Craven’s original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

“Jim Doyle [Elm Street’s mechanical special effects designer, wielding the glove in the picture above] was in a scuba suit underneath me. I was sitting on a two-by-four across a bathtub that had the bottom cut out, and beneath me was a tank made out of plywood, filled with water. It was a challenge to keep it at a temperature that wouldn’t completely be unreasonable; you would get slightly cold just sitting there. What I remember mainly are the sounds. Wes told Jim, “I’m going to bang on the bathtub when I want you to stick the claw out.” So Jim is blindly plunging that thing between my legs. One time it’s too far to the right, next time it’s too far to the left, then it’s way too fast — and Wes just patiently waited until he got the take that he wanted.” – Heather Langenkamp

Check out more in the Shot Behind the Shot series here.

The Gift cinematographer Edu Grau

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Beginning with this chat with A Single Man and The Gift cinematographer Edu Grau, I’ll be doing a weekly interview column for Filmmaker Magazine entitled Shutter Angles.

In The Gift, Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall play a newly-relocated-to-L.A. couple terrorized by one of Bateman’s former high school classmates (the film’s writer/director, Joel Edgerton). Here’s a sample from the Filmmaker interview, which references the frame above – a slow push in to a bottle of wine Edgerton has sent as ..wait for it…a gift.

“I told Joel I thought maybe this scene should play differently than what we’d been doing. I had this idea of doing this very simple shot, tracking in on a bottle of wine and concentrating on that detail. And he said, yeah, it sounds great, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. When we shot it, it was like, “Oh, this really works.” So we didn’t shoot anything else.

I also wanted, lighting wise, to emphasize this feeling of THE BOTTLE. When we were shooting, the movie wasn’t called The Gift. It didn’t have a title yet. We weren’t even sure that the gifts were that important. So it’s funny how, looking back at it now, it’s like, “Whoa, this is an important shot.” But we didn’t realize it at the time.” – The Gift cinematographer Edu Grau

Check out the interview in its entirety over at Filmmaker.

Behind the Scenes: Mission:Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)


“The first thing I try to communicate to my crew is that there will be no shaky-cam and no rack zooms, because those techniques are only used to hide the fact that there is no energy. When you eliminate those gimmicks you’re confronted with the reality of the shot you have in front of you, and nine times out of 10 you say to yourself: “This just isn’t working.” Then you have to find ways of infusing the shot with energy and excitement, and ask yourself what you can do to sustain the shot so that you’re not relying on staccato editing.” Mission:Impossible – Rogue Nation director Christopher McQuarrie states his principles of action cinema in an interview with Film Comment.

As he’s morphed from movie star to aging action hero, Tom Cruise has become more Evel Knievel than thespian. After five Mission:Impossible outings, I can tell you virtually nothing about Cruise’s super spy character Ethan Hunt. He’s a cipher whose personality shifts from film to film, retaining only a very Cruise-like intensity.

Cruise’s latest act of daredevildry involves hanging off the side of an Airbus A400M military plane as it takes off. Any doubt that Cruise himself is the man clinging to that plane should be alleviated by the photo above, which (on the left) shows an airborne Cruise harnessed with safety cables. To the right is the final color corrected image, with the cables painted out in post.

The film was shot largely with Panavision Millennium XL2 35mm film cameras and Panavision C Series anamorphic lenses. The Arri Alexa 65 was employed for an extended underwater set piece. Continue Reading ›

Behind the Scenes: Ant-Man (2015)

Behind the scenes of Ant-Man

A few photos from the set of Ant-Man (2015), a welcome shrinking-down of the rapidly expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe in terms of scale, stakes and bombast.

The film was shot mainly with Arri Alexa XT digital cameras and Panavision Primo V prime lenses, though its intricate effects work required Oscar-winning cinematographer Russell Carpenter (Titanic, True Lies) to employ everything from the high-speed Phantom Flex to the Canon 5D Mark III DSLR. You can read about the film’s production in the August issue of American Cinematographer Magazine and in the next issue of the quarterly effects bible Cinefex.

For more Marvel behind the scenes pics, check out our spreads featuring set photos from Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers. Continue Reading ›

Behind the Scenes: Trainwreck (2015)

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“A general way of looking at it is when you turn the camera on with Judd, (the film magazine) is going to roll out. There’s no quick, grabbed thing. The camera is rolling for 15 minutes and when there are two 35mm cameras rolling for 15 minutes, it’s a lot of film…That’s very much the way that Judd works.” – Trainwreck cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes.

I had the opportunity to interview Trainwreck director of photography Jody Lee Lipes (Tiny Furniture, Martha Marcy May Marlene) for Filmmaker Magazine. Check out the story here. Continue onward for a gallery of behind the scenes pics from the movie, which was shot mainly on Arricam LT and Arricam Studio 35mm cameras with Kodak stock and Cooke 5i lenses. Continue Reading ›