Interview: Gotham cinematographer Crescenzo Notarile

Check out this interview I did for Filmmaker Magazine with Emmy-nominated Gotham cinematographer Crescenzo Notarile ahead of tonight’s Season 3 premiere on Fox. Notarile talks about Gotham’s signature style, the challenges of hiding lights from the show’s wide-angle lenses, and what he learned from working on Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America.

Here’s Notarile on Once Upon a Time in America cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli.

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An interview with Swiss Army Man cinematographer Larkin Seiple

Here’s a link to an interview I did with Swiss Army Man cinematographer Larkin Seiple for Filmmaker Magazine. And here’s a quick sample of Larkin talking about working with the various animal critters in the film:

Filmmaker: Do you have any horror stories about the bear or the raccoons?

Seiple: The raccoons were good. I believe their names were Boris and Natasha. Raccoons can really only either grab something or run away and each of the raccoons had a specific move that it could do. So they weren’t too bad, we just had to do a lot of takes and they were constantly trying to escape, which made the owners nervous because we were in a giant forest.

The bear was challenging to shoot in that we didn’t have a lot of time with it. We had to set up an electric fence around the bear wherever we were shooting just in case something went wrong, which is nerve-wracking to shoot any sequence where you’re surrounded by an electric fence for your protection. The owners also seemed a little intimidated by the bear. (laughs) They looked very nervous when he wasn’t in the cage. Its main lure was ice cream sandwiches. They would throw five or ten of them back into his cage whenever they finished a take. He loved them. The bear’s name was Tag and he was very sweet but you could hear him rolling around in the cage and you thought, “My god, how much does he weigh?” The suspension on the truck was just shaking.

Five Frames: Bone Tomahawk cinematographer Benji Bakshi

The Film: Bone Tomahawk
The Cinematographer: Benji Bakshi
The Tools: Shot on Red Epic Dragon
The Plot: In this western, four disparate men (sheriff Kurt Russell and deputy Richard Jenkins, accompanied by Patrick Wilson and Matthew Fox) embark on a rescue mission to retrieve Wilson’s wife from a tribe of cannibalistic cave dwellers.
Further Reading: Check out my interview with Bone Tomahawk director S. Craig Zahler for Filmmaker Magazine.

How was your experience with the Red Epic Dragon?
Benji Bakshi: The Dragon was a serious improvement from previous models. Color was much more accurate and the latitude has improved, which was essential for our day exteriors. As always I tend to underexpose with Red, which gives more room in the highlights. The Dragon was improved in the shadows as well versus previous models, but in testing I saw noise at the toe. Knowing we intended to ride the edge of darkness, I set up a LUT to crush the shadows, which forced me to put light there. On set sometimes people would mention it was very dark, but I knew when the LUT was removed it would reveal lots of detail in the shadows, which proved to be the case. Normally I lift the shadows by using atmosphere (haze) but since our sets weren’t airtight the haze would have drifted in shot so in general I didn’t use it. So the LUT took the place of physical atmosphere to put light into the shadows. Continue Reading ›

Five Frames with The Final Girls cinematographer Elie Smolkin

 

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 ›

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: Trainwreck (2015)

“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 ›