Behind the Scenes: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Based on the Quaalude and greed fueled memoir of Jordan Belfort, who began amassing his fortune by peddling highly unregulated penny stocks to working-class suckers before graduating to securities fraud and money laundering, The Wolf of Wall Street marks the fifth collaboration between director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The movie was initially set up at Warner Brothers back in 2008, but was ultimately independently bankrolled by Red Granite (the LA-based company behind Out of the Furnace and Friends With Kids). The Wolf of Wall Street garnered five Oscar nominations – including best picture – but also met with some resistance from those who felt Scorsese didn’t provide an appropriate amount of finger-wagging at the bad behavior of Belfort and his cohorts. Here’s Scorsese’s thoughts on the matter…
“You may want to see a film about a character on Wall Street who goes through all this and has regrets, who is redeemed. It may make you feel good. But is that real? And is it necessary? Why does the character have to be redeemed? The idea of redemption is important to me, and to a lot of my pictures. But is Jake LaMotta redeemed? I may think so; you may not. It’s very personal. Is Henry Hill redeemed? After everything he goes through (in “Goodfellas”), all he says he regrets is that he isn’t a wiseguy anymore.” – Martin Scorsese, from an interview with NJ.com
Wolf was shot by cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (25th Hour, Brokeback Mountain, Babel, Argo). Prieto largely employed 35mm film and an Arricam Lite camera, but also used digital in the form of the Arri Alexa for low light situations and green-screen visual effects shots, which numbered more than 400. Scorsese and Prieto also utilized different lenses, filters and lighting schemes to differentiate the various stages of DiCaprio’s rise and fall. Those looks are discussed at length in an article in December’s American Cinematographer Magazine, which can be read online here. The film’s complete script can also be downloaded here.